Constitutional views of a legally inexperienced person

Constitutional views of a legally inexperienced person

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One. In the 52-year history of Bangladesh, no election has been free and fair under any partisan government, and even the most optimistic among us have no reason to believe that will happen in the future. This will happen. In fact, all the political fights and clashes that have taken place in the last 25 years have their roots in the electoral system itself. Many lives have been lost, much property has been damaged, economic potential has been damaged and scope for foreign interference has been created. Given the political realities, it is necessary to make a provision for elections under a caretaker government in the Constitution to get out of this vicious circle. The ongoing debate on ‘unelected government’ is meaningless. We will have to choose between three months of unelected government or five years of government.

B. Let’s take a look at the data (percentage of votes/seats) related to four fair elections held in Bangladesh. In the 1991 election, Awami League got 30.80 percent votes, BNP got 30.81 percent, Jamaat-e-Islami got 12.13 percent and Jatiya Party got 11.92 percent votes. In that election, Awami League got 88 seats, BNP got 140 seats, Jamaat got 18 seats and Jatiya Party got 35 seats.

In the 1996 elections, Awami League got 37.44 percent votes, BNP got 33.61 percent, Jamaat-e-Islami got 8.61 percent and Jatiya Party got 16.40 percent votes. In that election, Awami League got 146 seats, BNP got 116 seats, Jamaat got 3 seats and Jatiya Party got 32 seats.

In the 2001 elections, Awami League got 40.13 percent votes, BNP got 40.97 percent votes, Jamaat got 4.28 percent votes and Jatiya Party got 1.12 percent votes. In that election, Awami League got 62 seats, BNP got 193 seats, Jamaat got 17 seats and Jatiya Party got 4 seats.

In the 2008 election, Awami League got 48.04 percent votes, BNP got 32.50 percent, Jamaat got 4.70 percent and Jatiya Party got 7.14 percent votes. In that election, Awami League got 230 seats, BNP got 30 seats, Jamaat got 2 seats and Jatiya Party got 27 seats.

These figures illustrate some issues.

1. There are two major parties in Bangladesh which enjoy huge public support. And there are two parties which have public support to some extent.

2. Whatever the results, both the Awami League and BNP have about one-third committed voters. Furthermore, votes come from people unhappy or angry with the current government for legitimate reasons. These voters are not loyal to any particular party and they want change.

3. No party that won the election got half or more than half the votes. Even in the Awami League’s landslide victory in 2008, it got less than half the votes. In other words, we have always been ruled by a government representing less than half the votes. This should not be a problem in the Westminster system, because in a democratic system the country is run on a kind of consensus. But in our country, the winning party considers itself the sole ruler who has the right to act as per his wish for five years. Not only this, even if they win less than half the votes, they still flout the Constitution as per their wish. At the same time, both major political parties consider each other enemies and giving any leeway to the opposition is considered weakness, even defeat.

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