Elections amidst expectations, worries

Published: December 29, 2018 22:09:25 | Updated: December 31, 2018 22:05:31

Amidst great expectations and lots of worries, the nation goes to the 11th parliamentary election today (Sunday). More than 100 million voters, nearly half of whom are women, are expected to exercise their voting rights. What will come out at the end of the polling day remains everybody's guess. Some pre-poll events that were hardly relished by most voters, however, have added certain elements of uncertainty to polls atmosphere this time. This should not have been the case, particularly when after a decade the people are getting an opportunity to take part in, what many like to describe, a participatory election.

Today's election certainly is not a routine and normal one given the events preceded it. There prevailed strong doubt about the participation of one of the two main contenders of power--the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies. But following some dramatic developments, the party and some other political forces beyond its traditional allies formed a greater alliance and decided to take part in the election.

Yet normal electioneering was frequently punctuated by accusations and counter-accusations by rival parties. The pre-poll atmosphere was not congenial as violent incidents claimed a few lives and left hundreds injured across the country. The Jatiya Oikya Front (JoF) alleged widespread attacks by the ruling party men on their candidates and police harassment during electioneering. The Election Commission (EC) that is constitutionally empowered to take all necessary measures for the sake of holding a free, fair and participatory election apparently failed to rise to the occasion. Rather, the people watched with dismay the EC exposing its internal bickering and division.

Atmosphere during the days ahead of today's polling was not that ideal and that has triggered a sense of fear among the electorates in general. Hopefully, the EC, the administration and the law enforcing agencies would do their best to allay fear and uncertainty, and ensure a healthy atmosphere where the voters would be able to go to the polling centres across the country without any obstruction and intimidation and exercise their voting rights freely. And the EC does also need to ensure fair and proper counting of votes and proper declaration of results.

Only a peaceful and credible election would be able to meet the expectations of the people and ensure the much-needed atmosphere for achieving higher economic growth. Country's economy has done exceptionally well in recent years. Appreciation and plaudits have also come aplenty from international media and specialist organisations recognising the country's achievements in economic sector and human development indicators. But any questionable poll results might put all in danger, in terms of political stability and economic development.

Besides, electorates would want the new government to take up some important tasks that its predecessors failed to accomplish. They have been desperately longing for quality governance that could ensure a radical change in all spheres of national life. For instance, if good governance is there at the state level, things would automatically start improving in the all-important financial sector leading to return of discipline in the banking sector and decline in the size of non-performing loans (NPLs).

And one can also expect transparency and accountability in the corporate sector with good governance in place. However, materialising all these expectations would largely depend on strengthening national institutions and their proper functioning. Until now people's expectations have been belied. Hopefully, the new government would fulfill their hopes.  

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