Bangladesh Elections – Your Questions Answered

Tomorrow Bangladesh holds its 5th national election. The main two parties are the Awami League (Leader Sheikh Hasina) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP Leader Khaleda Zia). These elections have come under the media spotlight after the BNP and its allies have decided to boycott the election.

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What is the risk?

– The Awami League is expected to win by a huge majority as a result of the opposition’s boycott. This will certainly undermine the credibility of the election. Violence is also expected to be an issue tomorrow as political workers from the parties clash.

Why has the Bangladesh Nationalist Party decided not to take part?

– The country has previously held elections with a neutral caretaker government to ensure that the election process is fair. But, in this election, the Awami League have refused to create a neutral caretaker government. This is believed to undermine the fairness of the election.

Impact of the boycott

– 154 out of the 300 seats are uncontested, which means the Awami League would win without trying. However, it is believed that continued protest and violent clashes will result from the election.

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The main people

– The leader of both the Awami league and the BNP have been rivals for the past two decades as power shifted between the two parties. This election is likely to increase this tension dramatically. The third party’s (JP) leader H M Ershad has declared that the JP will also not be participating in the election furthering the complications.

What other issues are there?

– Violence, unemployment and poverty is high and afety and wage levels are low, which is not being helped by political instability. It is reported by The Asia Foundation that 75% of voters would like a neutral caretaker government during the election, so it will be interesting to see whether voter turnout will be on the same level as previous elections.

World Political implications

– Countries including the USA and the UK have refused to send observers to Bangladesh. This has weakened relations geopolitical and dented Bangladesh’s global image.

The election

– In the previous election there was a 70% voter turnout, but this is expected to be much less tomorrow. Although in 2008 the results were announced within 24 hours, the announcement of tomorrow’s results will depend on how peacefully the election is carried out.

What are your views on the elections? Should the Awami League set up a neutral caretaker government to maintain the peace?

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