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Party Candidate Selection Process in Bangladesh

Party Candidate Selection Process in Bangladesh

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Published by Mahiuddinprodeep

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Published by: Mahiuddinprodeep on Jan 11, 2010
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Research Report
Candidates Selection ProcessAn Analysis of Post 1990 Parliamentary Elections inBangladesh
Dr. K.M.MahiuddinAssociate ProfessorDepartment of Government & Politics Jahangirnagar UniversitySavar, Dhaka.
This is a study on party candidate selection with particular reference to Bangladesh. The mainquery of this study is how parties select their candidates for the parliamentary elections.Drawing on a theoretically in-framed case study of Bangladesh, the present study examinesthe impact of candidate selection process where the political parties are not internallydemocratic.Candidate selection is the process by which political parties decide who will be on the ballot paper as their recommended candidates. The way in which they make that choice is mainlydetermined by their own rules of procedures or by the state law. In most of the democracies political parties are free to make their own rules of procedure for the purpose of selectingcandidates while there are some countries where the constitution, electoral law or the political parties’ law determines the criteria for selecting the party candidates.Despite differences in procedure, party candidates are selected in Bangladesh by the parliamentary board comprised of the top-brass party leaders. The major parties set up acentral selection board for the purpose of selecting party candidates for parliamentary pools.The name and composition of the board are similar, for example, both the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Bangladesh Awami League form parliamentary boards with elevenmembers headed by the respective party chiefs. These two parties have developed a practiceof receiving applications from the aspirant candidates in a prescribed application form. After scrutinizing these applications aspirant candidates are called for an interview by the parliamentary board. Although, parliamentary board is, according to party constitution,supreme decision making body, party chiefs in practice takes the final decision after consultations with other members of the parliamentary board. Like the two major partiesJatiya Party chairman acts as the chairman of the parliamentary board and has the final sayregarding selecting candidates, parliamentary board formally approves his decisions only.
In the recent ninth parliamentary election, Bangladesh Awami Leagueempowers the grassroots party committees for making a candidate list forthe respective constituency. Other parties did not follow any procedure forchoosing candidates at any level through internal elections. Although AL
candidates were theoretically chosen by the grass root party committee,the basically hierarchical nature of party organization gives the partycentral office significant influence through approval procedures. Thepresent study therefore attempts to analyze the formal procedure of thecandidate selection process and examines the role of party rank and file inthis process. Keeping in mind the above discussions, the present studyfocuses on the candidate selection process with particular examples andillustrations from the post 1990 parliamentary elections.
The present study reveals that political parties in Bangladesh are not democratic internally.Although political parties have democratic principles in their constitution, but in practice mostof the major parties do not follow these principles. There had been a great gap between thetheoretical role of the parliamentary board of political parties and the personal power andauthority of the party chiefs. The study concluded that parliamentary candidate selection wasnot made through democratic process. Real power and authority regarding the selection of candidates are centralized to the central party leaders particularly the party chief decides whowill be contested in the election as the party candidates.The study shows that two major political parties the BNP and the AL awarded nomination tothose candidates who were able to contribute huge amounts of money to the party fund and tospent money in the election campaign for winning the polls. Through “
mononoyan banijya”
or "nomination trade" many businessmen-industrialists got the nomination and became theMembers of the parliament. Such practice not only affected the image of the parties, it alsocreated a new political class who intended to use their parliamentary position to make money.Due to the absence of democratic principal in the party governance party members couldhardly say anything about party policy. Members who criticized their party leaders or challenged their decision had been either expelled from the party in the name of partydiscipline or not nominated for the election. The party candidates who are elected to the parliament are also controlled by the party chiefs personally rather than institutional norms.This practice prevented the parliamentarians to participate in the parliamentary processeffectively. For strengthening the parliamentary parties political should be democraticinternally, in this regard the study makes necessary suggestions.

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