The Financial Express

Is election violence becoming neo normal?

Is election violence becoming neo normal?

Violence in municipality polls leading to death of at least two persons --- one of them a councillor-elect in Sirajganj --- has definitely mired the system of people's representative at the local government level. This is no national election and the stakes here are not equally high for securing state power. But the race still gives an ample indication of popularity of an individual candidate as well as the political party to which s/he belongs, provided that the election is free and fair. All elections ought to be a measure of the people's free will. Unfortunately, such a free will is getting undermined by intimidation, violence, money power and even voting frauds in most countries yet to develop a strong and durable polling system. Even the oldest democracy of the United States of America has exposed cracks and barely maintained its resilience, thanks to the resolve of officials of a few crucial states in the face of ultimate provocation.

What should be a civilised norm and tradition is now becoming a hostage to bullying, white lies, pretensions and blood-letting violence. Even at a time when the world was reeling from pandemic, protest rallies in Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan exposed the ruling cliques' intrigues for establishing their monopoly on power. In the latter Central Asian country, to everyone's relief, the election results were annulled immediately. Outgoing US president tried unsuccessfully to do what no other president in its history ever did; he also wanted to do the same but from the wrong side. On January 6 last, his supporters comprising mostly white supremacists and neo-Nazi racists, evidently at the president's instigation, stormed the Capitol, the seat of US government and five people, including a police officer lost lives in clashes inside the building. In its scope and moral bankruptcy, this Capitol building attack could not have been worse, particularly when a sitting president who has lost the presidential race engineered the attack.  

Worldwide the picture of election for local or national representatives is awfully depressing. How shocking, a popular mayor who was elected four times in Poland was stabbed on stage in front of hundreds of people attending the annual Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity! This happened to Gdansk mayor on January 13, 2019. The mayor was a critic of the Polish president. Such violence is no longer confined to banana republics or countries ruled by authoritarian rulers, it has become more like an acceptable evil of elections in countries boasting democratic systems. But should it be the norm?

That politics is for power has become an axiom. Political manoeuvring is allowed only to outfox rivals but if principles, norms and tradition become a casualty, people receive a wrong message. When election violence takes lives, there are indeed reasons to be suspicious of the credibility of the political system. This is responsible for growing apathy in a sober section of electorate to politics and what is known as popular election. So long America led in democratic practices but after Trump's insane attack on the system, its credibility has also diminished. This has not only done a monumental disservice to that country's democracy but also trivialised institutional codes and bindings elsewhere to encourage power-hungry people to grab or retain power by any means. 


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