The Election Commission (EC) has moved one step forward in gaining the credibility of all quarters by presenting the Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) polls in a free and fair manner, experts said.
The government has also earned praise for extending all-out cooperation to the EC in holding a free, fair and credible election with the participation of voters, they said.
As neither any candidate nor any opposition party like Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) raised any allegation about the GCC polls, the EC is now more confident about presenting such fair elections in future.
Before the GCC polls, many had said it would be the acid test for both the EC and government to prove their credibility with seven months left for the parliamentary elections.
The experts have said the EC fared much better in the election, which was held in a free, fair and peaceful manner with people’s satisfactory participation.
As major opposition BNP did not participate in the city election, it had been easy for the EC to handle the challenges, they said.
Former Election Commissioner Brig Gen (Retd) Dr M Sakhawat Hussain told the Daily Sun that this GCC election was better than the previous two elections.
“There were no major allegations over the election while people had been able to cast their votes and all the candidates accepted the results that highlighted a fair and peaceful election,” he said, adding that the EC faced a less challenge as major political party BNP did not participate in the election.
The EC would have gained some experience had the election been held with ballot papers as the next general election will be held using ballot papers and there will be no CCTV cameras, the election expert said.
He also said there will be no competition in the elections in four more city corporations to be held in June as BNP is not taking part there.
The former election commissioner expressed the hope that the EC will hold a good election in the four cities — Khulna, Barishal, Rajshahi and Sylhet. Independent candidate Zayeda Khatun, mother of former Mayor Zahangir Alam, won the GCC election defeating Azmat Ullah Khan of Awami League by 16,197 votes.
The voter turnout in the election was 48.75 percent which was considered adequate for a local government election.
A peaceful environment encouraged voters to come to the polling centres and cast their votes through electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Talking to the Daily Sun, local government expert Tofail Ahmed said an election cannot be measured by only what happens on the election day.
“Everyone saw that the election was good on the election day. But the criteria to measure the election should be what happens from three months before the election day,” he said.
“The opposition party (BNP) didn’t take part in the election, which spoiled the election environment. There’s a problem in the country’s entire election process. The election day can’t portray the overall election environment,” the expert said.
“There’re faults in the election process and those are not related to the capability of the Election Commission. The EC has no control over the country’s political arena and they can’t decide the political situation,” he said.
If the political situation deteriorates, the EC cannot manage the election, Tofail said, adding that if the behaviour of voters, candidates and police is good, the EC can manage the election.
The overall governance system must work for a better election, he said.
The GCC election does not give any indication that the EC can hold a good election in future, added the expert.