A Seminar on “Electoral Process in Bangladesh: Violence as a Threat to Democratic Institutions” jointly organized by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and the Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS) held on November 19, 2013 in Dhaka

Date: 19 November 2013

There is a strong causal relationship between political violence and electoral violence in Bangladesh. The Election Commission of Bangladesh needs to be strengthened and empowered to curtail the three stages (Pre, During and Post Poll/ Election violence) of electoral violence in Bangladesh. This was discussed in a seminar on “Electoral Process in Bangladesh: Violence as a Threat to Democratic Institutions” jointly organized by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and the Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS), Sri Lanka with the support of Global Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). This seminar was held on November 19, 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The distinguished participants have stressed on the issue that the nature of politics and dynamics of political parties are generating violence in Bangladesh. In this country ethnical violence does not persist based on election and even if then in a very negligible manner. But democratic violence exists in a large extent. Discussants focused on the point that pre-poll and post-poll violence are more harmful and give a threat to the stability of the society. Hence the authorities should focus on these stages of election, which normally gets unobserved and overlooked along with the Election Day.

They have further highlighted on the issue of election commission’s proper intervention and steps to have a free and fair election in Bangladesh. One of the former election commissioners of Bangladesh has suggested to find out the violence prone areas of Bangladesh and based on that the commission should deploy more or less law enforcing agencies. Discussants also mentioned that the government has to provide support to the election commission. Without government’s support election commission would not be able to carry out these actions properly.  Some of the discussants have suggested to have staggered elections in Bangladesh to curtail or even avoid electoral violence as then the authorities can have more law enforcement agency personnel deployed at the election centers as opposed to holding all election for all constituencies in one day. Participants also said that the election commission should take other stakeholders such as NGOs, civil society to help them out in conducting a free and fair election. Lastly the distinguished participants stressed on the point that democratic political parties should practice democracy within the parties first and then automatically democracy will be carried out properly in the country. Along with that the judicial system needs to be taken care of and maintaining neutrality of civil service is important to have a level playing field in the country, which in turn, will help to have a free and fair election process. They finished off by saying, citizens of the country should be provided with proper education on vote.

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