A Lecture on Party Democracy and Financing of Political Parties in Germany:relevance for Bangladesh

Date: 18 May 2010

Party financing must be transparent (Published in The Daily Star, May 18, 2010)

Speakers tell roundtable

Staff Correspondent

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday said financing and spending activities of political parties should be transparent and strictly monitored.

The suggestion came at a roundtable on “Party Democracy and Financing of Political Parties in Germany: Relevance for Bangladesh” organised by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) at the BEI conference room in the city with BEI President Farooq Sobhan in the chair.

They said the issue of financing political parties needs to be addressed as it has a direct link to corruption in the political scenario of the country.

In the keynote speech Dr Ulrich Von Alemann, a political science professor at the Heinrich Heine University in Germany, said political parties are necessary to uphold the democracy of a country, though they are blamed for corruption and inciting unrests.

The speakers added that political parties are necessary and restrictions should be imposed on their funding.

Jatiya Party (Ershad) Lawmaker Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud said the political parties in Bangladesh spend around $ 70 to $ 80 million during the election campaigns where as in Germany the expenditure does not exceed $60 million.

The speakers suggested that the state should monitor funding the political parties closely to curb corruption in the political scenario.

They termed that Bangladesh went through bitter experience on democracy after the death of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.The common people cast tactical vote to elect their chosen candidate, they added.

The speakers also recommended the decentralisation of administration to strengthen local government infrastructure in the best practice of democracy.

BEI President Farooq Sobhan said Bangladesh has a lot of lessons to learn about party democracy from Germany as well as its neighbouring countries.

He also pointed out that there is a much lack of youth participation in the parliamentary affairs and said scopes are shrinking for the grassroots to actively join politics.

The former foreign secretary mentioned that a total of eight parliamentarians out of the 345 Members of the Parliament are aged below 40, and as much as 80 percent of them are businessmen.

German Deputy Head of Mission Rolf Dieter Reinhard, Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert McDougall, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekhar Zaman and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury, among others, spoke