Lessons from the Bangladesh polls
The News, February 02, 2009
Bangladesh has just concluded one of the most peaceful, orderly and fair elections for its national parliament, Jatiya Sangsad, with a record 87 percent voter turnout. This was made possible mainly because Bangladesh made impressive strides in electoral reforms during the past two years. The Bangladesh Election Commission (BEC) became a truly independent body as a result of these intensive electoral reforms undertaken by the caretaker government, in close collaboration with a new chief election commissioner. He is not only reform-minded, dynamic and an experienced administrator but he also has an impeccable reputation of integrity.
The extensive electoral reforms were the result of a comprehensive dialogue between the BEC and the political parties. Sixteen political parties were involved in three rounds of dialogue before the reforms were introduced.
A dialogue between the Election Commission and political parties is a rarity in Pakistan. Last time the Election Commission consulted political parties was for a couple of hours, and that too at the direction of the Supreme Court.
As the time to take the critical decision of appointing a new chief election commissioner in Pakistan draws nearer (the current one will complete his three-year term in March), Pakistan’s political leadership may learn a few lessons from Bangladesh—the country’s former eastern wing.
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