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Research Report

Candidates Selection Process

An Analysis of Post 1990 Parliamentary Elections in


Bangladesh

Dr. K.M.Mahiuddin

A ssocia te P rofess or
D ep a rtm ent of G overnm ent & P olitics
J a ha ng irna g a r Unive rsi ty
Sa va r, D ha k a.
E-mail: mahiuddinbd@yahoo.com
Abstract

This is a study on party candidate selection with particular reference to Bangladesh. The main
query 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 examines
the impact of candidate selection process where the political parties are not internally
democratic.

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 mainly
determined 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 selecting
candidates 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 a
central 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 eleven
members headed by the respective party chiefs. These two parties have developed a practice
of 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 parties
Jatiya Party chairman acts as the chairman of the parliamentary board and has the final say
regarding selecting candidates, parliamentary board formally approves his decisions only.

In the recent ninth parliamentary election, Bangladesh Awami League


empowers the grassroots party committees for making a candidate list for
the respective constituency. Other parties did not follow any procedure for
choosing 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 party
central office significant influence through approval procedures. The
present study therefore attempts to analyze the formal procedure of the
candidate selection process and examines the role of party rank and file in
this process. Keeping in mind the above discussions, the present study
focuses on the candidate selection process with particular examples and
illustrations 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 most
of the major parties do not follow these principles. There had been a great gap between the
theoretical role of the parliamentary board of political parties and the personal power and
authority of the party chiefs. The study concluded that parliamentary candidate selection was
not 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 who
will be contested in the election as the party candidates.

The study shows that two major political parties the BNP and the AL awarded nomination to
those candidates who were able to contribute huge amounts of money to the party fund and to
spent money in the election campaign for winning the polls. Through “mononoyan banijya”
or "nomination trade" many businessmen-industrialists got the nomination and became the
Members of the parliament. Such practice not only affected the image of the parties, it also
created 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 could
hardly 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 party
discipline 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 process
effectively. For strengthening the parliamentary parties political should be democratic
internally, in this regard the study makes necessary suggestions.
Contents

CHAPTER I
Introduction and Methodology 1

CHAPTER II
Methods of Candidate Selection 8

CHAPTER III
Political Parties in Bangladesh: Structure and Procedures 16

CHAPTER IV
Candidate Selection Process in Bangladesh 29

CHAPTER V
Conclusion 42

Bibliography
CHAPTER I

Introduction and Methodology

Introduction

This is a study on party candidate selection with particular reference to Bangladesh. The main
query 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 also
examines the impact of candidate selection process where the political parties are not
internally democratic.

Candidate selection is one of important functions of the political parties. This role
distinguishes political parties from the other organizations, such as interest group or pressure
group. Richard S. Katz notes, “Selection of candidates to contest elections is one of the
functions that separate parties from other organizations that may try to influence electoral
outcomes and governmental decisions, but also in the sense that the candidates it nominates
play an important role in defining what the party is.”1 In democratic polities, political parties
play the central role in nominating legislative candidates. According to Pippa Norris political
parties shape the recruitment ‘supply’ of potential candidates through providing social
networks, training, civic skills, and organizational experiences that are valuable in the pursuit
of elected office.”2 Although parliamentary candidates are mainly chosen by the political
parties there is a chance for the individual citizen to stand for election. In many countries
independent candidates who meet the certain requirements, specified by the electoral law, can
stand for elected office without any party backing or affiliation but in the most democracies
like the USA, the UK and Germany only few independent candidates are elected to the
parliament and they are usually provided with minimum financial assistance and support that
party provide.

1
Katz, Richard S. (2001), “The Problem of Candidate Selection and Models of Party Democracy”, Party
Politics, Vol. 7, No.3, p.278.
2
Norris Pippa (2005), “Building political parties: Reforming legal regulations and internal rules”, Research
Report for Strengthening Political Parties, Stockhom: International IDEA, p.20.
The nature of nominating procedure determines the nature of the party. Many scholars like
M. Duverger, Gallagher, E.E. Schattschneider argue that the candidate selection process both
affect and reflect the distribution of power within the party. According to Schattschneider,
“the nominating process has become the crucial process of the party. He who can make the
nominations is the owner of the party. This is therefore one of the best points at which to
observe the distribution of power within the party.”3

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 mainly
determined 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 selecting
candidates while there are some countries where the constitution, electoral law or the political
parties’ law determines the criteria for selecting the party candidates.

Criteria for the selection of candidates for elections can fall in two categories: open (or
democratic), where the party’s rank-and-file members and sympathizers take a vote to
nominate their candidate and closed (or undemocratic), consisting of a closed-door decision
at the elite level of the party.4 In the open democratic process, candidates are selected by
direct voting of all party members from the concerned constituency which is called primary
election. Primary election is conducted within the party to select its candidates. In the closed-
door process candidates either can be selected party committee of the concerned constituency
or national executive committee. Where candidates are selected by the committee of the
concerned constituency there is a chance of toadyism and favoritism and where candidates
are selected by national executive committee parties exercise greater control.5

In the United States, aspiring candidates for the House and Senate seats are nominated
through a primary election. The party rank and file participates in primary elections to select
their candidates. In Gallagher words: “Virtually no other political parties in the world
nominate candidates to the national legislature through party elections”. 6 In most of the

3
Schatterschneider, E.E. (1942), Party Government New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, p101.
4
Gilles Serra, “Why Primaries? The Strategic Choice of a Candidate Selection Method” paper presented at the
annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in September 2007.
5
Prasai ,Khagendra, "Inner Party Democracy", Paper presented at the seminar on "Democratization of
Political Party", December, Nagarkot
6
Gallagher, Michael, “Conclusion”, in Candidate Selection in Comparative Perspective: The Secret Garden of
Politics, eds. Michael Gallagher and Michael Marsh, London: Sage, 1988, p. 238.
European countries, candidates are generally selected in committees or conventions where a
group of party activists interview the candidates and select among them. A few parties allow
all enrolled party members to hear the candidates and then vote on them in party meetings,
but more parties have national executive committees to choose 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 a
central 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 eleven
members headed by the respective party chiefs. These two parties have developed a practice
of 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 parties
Jatiya Party chairman acts as the chairman of the parliamentary board and has the final say
regarding selecting candidates, parliamentary board formally approves his decisions only.
The party constitution (Article 25/4) makes it mandatory for the party members to comply
with the direction of the party chairman.

In the recent ninth parliamentary election, Bangladesh Awami League empowers the
grassroots party committees for making a candidate list for the respective constituency. Other
parties did not follow any procedure for choosing 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 party central
office significant influence through approval procedures. The present study therefore
attempts to analyze the formal procedure of the candidate selection process and examines the
role of party rank and file in this process.

Objectives of the Study

Since the independence of the country, because of continuity and discontinuity of the
functioning of parliamentary system, in a broader sense political regime can be framed in
three different time spans. The year between 1972 and 1975 was a period of the beginning of
parliamentary democracy with an authoritarian party rule. Since the military intervention the
years between 1975 and 1990, are marked as strong executive system under military regime.
During this period undemocratic practices and political stalemate weakened the growth of
party system. However, in the beginning of 1991, parliamentary system of government has
been established on the basis of political consensus and model of the caretaker government
adopted in the constitution for holding free and fare elections. But the lack of transparency in
the candidate selection process generates electoral corruption. Civil society, media, NGOs
and donor agencies therefore make emphasis on democratization of candidate selection
process. Major political parties also agreed to bring changes in the parliamentary candidate
selection process.

Keeping in mind the above discussions, the present study focuses on the candidate selection
process with particular examples and illustrations from the post 1990 parliamentary elections.
This study will examine the candidate selection process focusing on the following two issues:

1) How do the parties select their candidates for parliamentary pools?


2) What conditions do matter for selecting candidates?

This study particularly focus on the perceptions of internal party structure as a factor
determining of candidate selection, and pose it as a major hypothesis for this research.

Data and Methodology

This study analyzes the candidate selection process by examining party structure and legal
basis. Information will be mainly collected from the primary and secondary sources. Party
constitutions, reports and Rules of Procedure which are used for operating parliamentary
parties are also examined. Research reports, books and articles published in home and abroad
are also reviewed. Because of time constraint and limited financial support the present study
specifically focuses on the candidate selection process of the two major political parties- the
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Bangladesh Awami League (AL) with necessary
illustrations.
The present study took about one year. The first three months were spent for collecting
literatures and building up a theoretical framework. Following three months were spent for
building up instruments for data collection and collecting information from the library, JS
archives and political party offices. Data compiling, analysis and interpretation took next
three months. The last three months were spent for report writing and editing.

Theoretical Framework

For the purposes of analyzing parliamentary candidate selection process I rely on a model
developed by Richard Matland that illustrates the legislative recruitment process. Matland’s
model is marked by four stages: beginning with eligibility, moving to aspirant, then to
candidate, and finally, to elected Member. In between these four stages there are three crucial
barriers that candidates must overcome before they can enter a legislative career. First, they
need to select themselves to stand for election. The decision to stand for election is influenced
by three factors: personal ambition, resources and opportunities to run for office. Second,
they need to get selected by party members as the candidate. Finally, they must be elected or
rather “selected” by the electorate. In the legislative recruitment process political parties act
as useful and necessary gate-keepers narrowing down the list of candidates to a small enough
pool.

Matland argued that the opportunities of legislative recruitment depend on the nature of the
electoral opportunity structure; that is, the party context, the political context and the social
context. The party context is the current party conditions, its rules, policy on representation
and ideology. The political context refers to the opportunities for election, level of
competition, number of spaces available, rate of legislative turnover and the electoral system.
Finally, the social context includes the political culture, specifically social values, attitudes
and norms that affect the demands for various characteristics of candidates.
Source: P. Norris (1996), “Legislative Recruitment”, in L. Leduc, R. Niemi and P. Norris, eds., Comparing

Legislative Recruitment Process

Ambition

Eligible Aspirants Candidates MP

Party Gatekeepers
Resource
Voters
s GGGaGGateGate
keeper

Democracies: Elections and Voting in Global Perspective. London: Sage, p. 196.

Justification of the Study

The quality of candidates selected determines the quality of deputies (parliament members) elected,
of the resultant parliament, often of the members of the government and, to some extent, of a
country’s politics. A change in parties’ selection procedures in any given country might thus have
direct consequences for the way politics operate here. Moreover, the way in which political parties
select their candidates may be used as an acid test of how democratically conduct their internal
affairs. (Gallagher and Marsh, 1988, p.1)
Though the candidate selection process is crucial important for understanding the
composition of the parliaments and the behavior of their members, 7 until1990s only a few
research studies dealt with this issue. But there is a growing literature studying the candidate
selection process and its consequences. Several empirical studies have found that analyze the
candidate selection process of the developed democracies. For example, Leon D. Epstein,
Richard S Katz, Kasse Max and Pippa Noris analyze the candidate selection process of the
Western political parties, Rahat and Hazan focus on the Israelis political parties, IDEA
research group conduct a survey research to identify the problems of democratization of
candidate selection process in South Asia. Although number of studies have been conducted
in abroad focusing the candidate selection process, there is no particular study in Bangladesh.
In this context the present study will generate ideas about the candidate selection process.

7
Rahat, Gideon, “Candidate selection: the choice before the choice”, Journal of Democracy, Volume 18,
Number 1 January 2007, p.158.
CHAPTER II

Methods of Candidate Selection

One of the most important functions of the political parties is to select their candidates for the
elections of the parliament and other representative bodies. The way through which political
parties nominate their candidates is mainly determined by their own internal rules and
procedures while in some democracies the constitution, the electoral law and the political
party laws determine the way that the parties are to select their candidates. This chapter
analyzes the legal framework and the different methods of candidate selection process of the
selected developed and developing countries to elicit the different variables and factors which
determines the candidate selection process. These variables and factors will then be examined
in the case of Bangladesh.

Legal Framework

In most established democracies, candidate selection is an internal matter of the political


parties. They are free to set rules for the nomination of the person who will run as their
candidate in a given election. For example, in the UK, Canada and Japan political parties are
free to make their own rules for choosing their own candidates. In few countries like the
United States, Germany, New Zealand, Norway (until 2002), and Finland laws lay out a
general guide line for candidate selection. They have legal provisions requiring that political
parties follow democratic procedure in candidate selection. The Political Parties Act which
proclaimed in Pakistan 2002 directs the political parties to maintain internal democracy. In
other South Asian countries, there are some rules and regulations relating to the formation,
registration and recognition of parties but there is no legal provision for regulating the
candidate selection process. Though the legal provisions in the South Asian specifies that
who will be eligible to stand for election but the process of candidate selection is entirely left
to the political parties.

Many countries like Canada, Finland, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh political
parties are required to be registered to the election commission. Only registered political
parties are eligible to put up their candidates for the parliamentary elections. In many
countries, political parties adopted the quota system to reduce sex and ethnic inequality. For
example, in Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Brazil political parties reserve certain number of
seats for the women. For example, Article 114 of the Constitution of Nepal requires every
party participating in parliamentary elections to reserve five percent of the total seats for
women. Nepal has a mixed system of proportional and Fast Past the Post electoral system. In
accordance with Section 7(3) of the Electoral Laws, every political party willing to
participate in the election should have submit a candidate list to the election commission
ensuring proportional representation of Women, Dalits, Oppressed tribes/
Indigenous tribes, Backward regions, Madhesi, including other groups for
election under the Proportional Electoral System where the Political Parties
shall be voted upon considering the entire country as a single election
constituency.8

Congressional Candidates Selection

In the US congressional elections, candidates run for the House of Representatives in 435
separate single member districts and for the Senate in 50 different states. Until the early
twentieth century, nominations were entirely the responsibility of party organization.
Significant reform was brought in the party democracy in the early 1990s by the
progressives.9 They argued that party organization should operate according to the same
principle that governs elections: power should rest with ordinary voters rather than with party
bosses. The progressive movement brought two significant changes: one was the direct
election of U.S. senators, who had been earlier chosen by the state legislators and the second
change was the introduction of the primary election as a method of choosing nominees. 10
Primary election system gives rank-and-file voters opportunity to select party nominees for
public offices.

The American constitution empowers individual state to determine their election laws for
selecting candidates for the congressional elections. Most states conduct closed primaries, in
which participant is limited to voters who declare their affiliation to the party a specified
period prior to the election. Other states follow the method of open primaries. Open primary
is a form of direct election where participants either do not need to declare party affiliation as
8
Election to Members of the Constituent Assembly Act, 2064 (2007), enacted by the Nepal Parliament, June
22, 2007.
9
The Progressive Era in the United States was a period of reform which lasted from the 1890s to the 1920's.
10
Patterson, ThomasE., The American Democracy, New York: Mc Graw Hill, 2003, p.242.
a pre-requisite to participating in a primary election or may do so on election day. A few
states follow a third form of primary called ‘the blanket primary’. The states provide a single
primary ballot listing the name of the candidates of both the Democrat and the Republican
but voter can select a candidate of either party. In open, closed or blanket system, party
members, independents and new voters can participate in the selection of party’s nominees.
The candidates who receive the largest numbers of votes become the party’s candidate even if
the state or local party leaders would have preferred someone else. Some states prohibit a
candidate who loses a primary from running as an independent or third party candidate. The
system of making congressional nominations through primary elections also severely limits
the influence of party organizations on the selection of House and Senate candidates.11

Candidate Selection Methods: Germany

Germany has mixed system of the First Past the Post and proportional representation. Half of
the seats of the Bundestag are filled by the FPTP system from single member constituencies
and rests of the members are elected through party lists. Each voter has two votes: one for
constituency member and another for the party list. The candidate selection for both the
single-member constituencies and the party list is regulated by the Law on Political Parties
and the Federal Electoral Law. The Law on Political Parties defines the way of selecting
candidates for election to all levels of government and the Federal Electoral Law lays out a
detail framework for that purpose. Article 17 of the Law on Political Parties states:
“Candidates for election to parliament must be chosen by secret ballot. The nomination
procedure is governed by the election laws and the party statutes.” The Federal Electoral Law
lays out a general framework for candidate selection. Article 21 of the Federal Electoral Law
requires a party candidate to be selected by either an assembly of party members or an
assembly of party delegates elected by an assembly of party members from their own ranks.
In all cases, candidates and delegates must be elected by secret ballot. The procedures
prescribed for the nomination of candidates in a constituency are broadly applicable to the
nomination of Land lists. The party law decentralizes the candidate selection process and
requires that candidate should be selected according to democratic procedures, protecting the
rights of the party members and potential candidates.

11
Patterson, Thomas E., opcit., p.243, Gerber, Elisabeth R. & Morton, Rebecca B. (1997), Primary Election
Systems and Policy Divergence, Legislative Studies Quarterly 14: 465-486.
Candidate Selection Methods: Britain

The selection of party candidates for the British parliamentary elections is very much an
internal party affairs. The party’s rules for the selection of candidates differ, but in each case
selection is a function of the local party organization, subject to a degree of central control.
Unlike the parties of the United States, a system of primary elections is not applied in the
selection of party candidates. A choice is made by the local constituency party committee but
the central party committee supervises the whole process, they have also power to intervene.

In the Conservative party, the National Union’s Standing Advisory Committee on Candidates
(SACC) is responsible for finalize the procedures to be followed for the selection process.
Candidate selection process begins with the submission of names to the local party office
concerned. Any individual party member who wants to be included to the list applies himself
or suggests someone else. Once candidates get on to the approve list they may apply for
vacancies in various constituencies. In the constituency level, the selection process involves
four basic steps: application, short listing by selection committee, and further elimination by
the Executive Committee before final approval by the Special General. In the general meeting
party members are allowed to vote for selecting their candidates. Once the candidates are
selected in a general meeting, select report is sent to the Central Executive Council for final
approval. Though the Central Executive Council can veto the decision, it almost never does.12

The Labour Party applies same general principles for selecting their candidates for the
parliamentary elections but the National Executive Committee (NEC) exercise less control
than the Conservative party committee. The selection process begins with receiving
applications from the members. In the following stage, the NEC prepares and approves a
‘parliamentary panel’ of prospective candidates. The list is sent to the local party office to
select their candidates although the party’s local branch is not obliged to choose candidates
from the panel list. In the third stage, the candidate is chosen by individual party members on
the basis of one member, one vote. Finally, the choice which is made by the local branch is
sent to the NEC for endorsement. If a sitting MP wants to be reelected may on certain

12
Maor, Moshe(1997), Political Parties and Party Systems: Comparative Approaches and British Experiences,
Rutledge, p.127.
conditions be endorsed as a candidate without having to submit to a ballot of party
members.13

In the Liberal the selection process involves five different stages: initial application;
acceptance on the regional approved list; application to a constituency; short list and final
selection process. In the last two stages, grassroots level party members have the opportunity
to select their candidates. The details of Liberal candidates selection process is laid down in
the party’s Rule Book. In accordance with the provisions of the Rule Book, a ‘candidate
committee’ is set up by the state party for making a candidates list from the paid up members
of party. Once the candidate list is prepared a sub-committee is appointed to make a short list
from the approved candidate list. Candidates are finally chosen by the local party members
on the basis of one member, one vote. If a sitting MP wishes to be a candidate, s/he requires
endorsement by the majority at a general meeting of local party. If s/he fails to receive their
consent, the MP may request a ballot of all local party members. In the selection process, the
national party committee has no power to veto a local party decision.

To sum up, candidate selection in Britain is an internal matter of the political parties. The
three parties, the Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal apply almost the same principle.
The selection of candidate for particular constituency is the responsibility of the concerned
local party, but with the supervision of central party committee.

Candidate Selection Methods: Examples of other European Countries

In New Zealand, political parties select their candidates in accordance with the provisions of
the Electoral Act 1993. This Act lays out a general framework for candidate selection.
Section 71 of the Electoral Act makes it mandatory for the registered parties to follow
democratic procedure in candidate selection. Act specifies in section 71 that candidates either
will be selected by the party members or delegates. Each registered party has own candidate
selection rules and these rules are made available for public. In Norway from 1920 until
2002, parties selected their candidates through regional conventions comprising selected
delegates. Similarly in Finland, candidates are selected by their party members.

13
Turpin, Colin & Tomkins, Adam (2007), British Government and the Constitution, Cambridge University
Press, p.540.
To sum up, the US primaries, which are regulated by the individual state, remain rare in the
European countries. From the British examples it is revealed that the national party
committees provide a list from which the local party committees propose the name of
candidates, but the national committees have been able to retain ultimate control over
candidate selection. In the German system, both local and national party elites have
considerable influence in the process of candidate selection. Where the electoral system is a
mixed of FPTP and PR, the local party elites have considerable influence in constituencies
and national party elites can influence in selecting the party list candidates.

Candidate Selection Methods: South Asia

As in Britain, the selection of party candidates in South Asia is an internal party affair.
Political parties in South Asia are not formally obliged to select their candidates for
parliamentary elections through internal election. All countries in South Asia, except Sri
Lanka and Nepal, follow the First Past The Post (FPTP) system. Sri Lanka adopted a system
of Proportional Representation (PR) system in 1978 and Nepal has a mixed system of FPTP
and PR. In a PR system, parties are required to submit a candidate list for each multi-member
electoral district. Whether the election system is FPTP or PR, despite differences in
procedures the method of candidate selection is almost similar. Candidates are usually
selected by a committee called parliamentary board, central election committee or candidate
selection committee. This committee is set up with the top brass party leaders. Although,
selection committee has given supreme power to select candidates from the list of panel or
applications forwarded by the local party office, in most parties, the party chiefs (presidents,
chairpersons or general secretaries) may consider any other names that are important for the
party in the constituencies. The following paragraphs describe the candidate selection process
of some South Asian parties.

The Indian National Congress set up a Central Election Committee (CEC) to supervise the
candidate selection process. This committee provides a guideline for the Pradesh Congress
Committees (PCCs) which will be followed in selecting best candidates from the activists.
Candidate election process begins with receiving applications from the intending candidates.
It is obligatory for the PEC to consult the District Congress Committee. After assessing the
view-points of the members of the DCC, the PEC prepares a panel of names not exceeding
five members in each constituency and forwards it to the CEC. While forwarding the panel,
the PEC indicates the reasons for its recommendations and point out how far the individuals
recommended give representation to the minorities, women and persons working in the labor
field.14

A typical Congress candidate, according to the CEC guideline, is one who is an active
Congress worker with two years standing as primary member. But the Congress President has
the authority to relax the terms of two years primary membership in suitable cases. The
relaxation of this condition is not only applicable in case of persons with outstanding ability
whose service may be needed for the country but also in case of those members of political
groups or parties which have recently joined the Congress. There are other conditions that
the applicant must fulfill. Applicant must be devoted to the party’s policy, has demonstrated
his capacity to support party interest and represents groups that the party wishes to attract into
its ranks.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) set up a central election committee to oversee the process
of candidate selection. The members of this committee are usually nominated by the party
chief. Like the Congress, securitizing the applications of the aspirant candidates party
committee at the constituency level first prepare a panel and then send it to the Central
election Committee for final selection. The Committee takes the final decision considering
the candidate’s loyalty to party, image and probability of winning the election. Some times
the committee consults and discusses with the provincial leaders to ensure participation of
different factions of the party and society.

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) set up a Candidate Selection Committee (CSC) for the
purpose of selection of candidate for the election of the Constituent Assembly. Ram Bahadur
Thapa ‘Badal’, secretariat member of the central committee, was appointed as the coordinator
of this selection committee. The main task of this committee was to select candidates on the
basis of the proportional representation of caste, class, region and gender for the proportional
representation. The committee also selected candidates for the single member district. In
choosing the candidates for the PR list, political parties follow the quota system framed by
the Election Commission.15 In the beginning of the selection process, the CSC sent a circular

14
De Souza, Peter Ronald, India’s Political Parties, New Delhi: 2006, pp.240-53.
15
According to the Constituent Assembly Members Election Act, 2007, candidate lists submitted by political
parties for the Proportional Representation election must cover at least 10% of the seats to be elected under the
Proportional Representation system i.e. there must be at least 34 candidates submitted on a candidate list. The
to the constituency or district level party committee to recommend three or four persons for
consideration. Finally candidates were chosen by the CSC from the panel made by the local
party committee. With regards to the selection of candidates, it was claimed by Thapa that
their main consideration was commitment towards party. For the NC and other parties
popularity in the constituency and possibility winning election were also considered while the
selection was made. The party leaders who were found difficult to win popular elections, but
were considered important for the party, were put in the party list.

Though the Political Parties Act 2002 stipulates that the candidates for the parliamentary
election will be selected through democratic process but the parties in Pakistan did not follow
such rule for selecting party candidates for the last general election. Traditionally parties set
up a committee with the top party leaders who are well connected to the constituency. The
committee makes recommendations to the party chief whose decision is final.

To sum up, in choosing the candidates for the parliamentary elections, political parties in
South Asia do not follow any democratic methods that practiced in the developed
democracies like the USA, UK and Germany. Though the parties appoint a select committee
for this purpose but the party chief takes the final decision. Consultations with party top
leaders at various levels take place to ensure participation of different fractions of the party.
During the process of selecting candidates the party leaders first consider the winnability of a
candidate which in turns depends on the candidate’s connection to the constituency, the social
standing, the financial capacity and the public image. Following other factors are also
considered important: candidate’s position in the party, length of party life and relationship
with top brass party leaders.

candidate lists are also required to consist of at least one-third women.


CHAPTER III

Political Parties in Bangladesh: Structure and Procedures

Political parties in Bangladesh have distinct characteristics in terms of their internal structure,
ideology and functioning. Some of the parties are democratic and liberal; some parties are
social revolutionary while some others stand for establishing Islamic sharia law. All parties
are not made from the same mould. Some of the parties originated during the British colonial
period and led the independent movements while some parties were established in the course
of legitimacy of military regime. Since the independence, Bangladesh has shifted from one
system to another. The year between 1972 and 1975 was a period of the beginning of
parliamentary democracy with an authoritarian party rule. The years between 1975 and 1990
were marked by a continuous power struggle within the army. Military rulers consolidated
their positions by creating new political parties and holding national elections.16 During this
period undemocratic practices and political stalemate weakened the growth of party system.
Since the restoration of parliamentary form of democracy in 1991, the donor agencies, the
civil society and the media have given emphasis for democratizing the political parties. This
chapter intends to analyze legal framework, the internal party structure and the procedure,
ideology, support base and fund management which have a functional link to the process of
candidate selection.

Legal Framework

In many democracies of the globe political parties are regulated by the political party law and
the electoral law. These laws or acts are enacted by the government to determine what
constitutes to regulate the formation and the activities of the political parties. In many
countries independent election commissions are established with oversight authority so that
commission can inflict stringent regulations and checks on parties to enhance transparency
and accountability within the party system. For example, political parties in Germany
according to the Article 21 of the Basic Law must be organized through democratic norms
and practice. Similarly, political parties in Thailand are required by election law to have

16
Mitra, Subrata K. and Enskat, Mike, “Introduction’’, in Mitra, Subrata K. and Enskat (ed.), op cit., pp.20-
21.
internal elections for party posts and policies. According to this law parliamentarians who
feel they are the victims of “undemocratic” party decisions have the opportunity to file an
appeal to the Constitutional Court.17 In many countries like the USA, Germany, France, India
Norway and the UK party law regulate the raising and spending of party funds. The
procedure for raising and spending party fund is detail laid down in the party constitution.
Political parties are legally binding for making annual audits party fund and financial reports
make available to the public in order to enhance financial transparency and accountability.

As there was no binding for the political parties to be registered, it is really hard to work out
the actual number of parties in Bangladesh. Amending ‘the Representation of the People
Order (RPO)’ the Bangladesh Election Commission issued a rule name ‘Registration of
Political Parties Rules’ in 2001. According to registration rules political parties who are
intend to participate in the election must be registered to the election commission. The
criteria and conditions for the registration of the political parties are detail laid down in the
Registration of Political Parties Rules. Numbers of changes have been made in the draft
proposal discussing with 16 political parties. To meet the criteria set down by the amended
RPO, most of the political parties will have to amend their constitutions. The conditions for
registration include, among others, the parties will have to submit a draft party constitution
for the registration but they have to submit a ratified constitution to the Election Commission
within six months from the first sitting of the ninth parliament. Among the other conditions,
minor parties, who have never won any parliamentary seat since 1972, will have to prove that
they have a functional central office with a committee and branch offices in at least 10
districts and 50 Upazilas or metropolitan cities to be qualified for registration. The rules also
make mandatory for the political parties to detach their associate organizations (i.e students,
workers and professional fronts) from the parent organization and dissolved overseas
organizations.18

17
The 1997 Thai Constitution introduced new election laws, under the Organic Law on Elections. For details:
Thornton, Laura L. , “Political Party Strategies to Combat Corruption (executive summary)”, The National
Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and The Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats
(CALD), p.5, 2001.
18
The Daily Star, Dhaka, 12 October 20
Party Structure and Leadership Selection

Like other organizations, political parties are pyramidal in structure. The party chief called
president or chairperson stands in the top and exercises control over those units lower down
pyramid. The parties where power and responsibilities are delegated from top to downward
through a series of stratified layers of committees and exercised it in a democratic manner can
be identified as democratic. Though party chief attains political power through democratic
method, exercises it in authoritarian and totalitarian manner is referred as authoritarian. In an
authoritarian party structure, power and authority are centralized to the party chief and s/he
enjoys sole authority to nominate candidate for the national elections, determines party
manifesto and other issues. If the parties are not organized through democratic process and
leaders and members do not believe in democratic culture it must be adversely affected the
development of democracy. It is therefore argued that if the parties are internally democratic
they can enhance a necessary viable democratic culture within the party as well as society at
large.19 It means that the party which internally practices democracy has the opportunity to
make some contributions towards building a democratic society.

Party structure is generally paramedical, major parties include AL, BNP, JP and JIB are
comprised following the government administrative hierarchy, the national or central
committee is the pivot of the structure and then they have divisional, district, Upzila (Sub-
district), Union and village committees. At the municipal and city level they have municipal/
city council and municipal/city word committees. All parties have their sister organizations
such student, labour, employees, women and professional groups. Though they have their
own constitution and manifestoes, they are operated under the discipline of the main party.

The political parties in Bangladesh (include AL, BNP, JP, JIB and CPB) have written rules
and regulations that define the way they are structured and govern their internal functioning.
Though democratic rules are provided in their constitution for the purpose of the selection of
their leaders and candidates, actual practice needs to be examined to analyze the inner party
democracy in Bangladesh.
Article 8(KA) of the BNP’s constitution prescribes that the BNP chairperson will be elected
by direct vote of the members of the National Council for a term of two years and the

19
Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (2004) Institutional Development Handbook: A Framework
for Democratic Party-Building. The Hague: NIMD.
chairperson can be removed if two thirds of the national council demands so and three fourths
of the national council votes in favor of this demand. Although in theoretically National
Standing Committee (NSC) is the most powerful authority in the party but in practice
chairperson exercise all power.

BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia entered into politics after the death of her husband and
became vice-president in 1983 and president in 1984. However, party chairperson is to be
elected by the party council but the elections have never been held in the BNP last thirteen
years. BNP’s former secretary general Abdul Manan Bhuian said in an interview that they did
not fell necessity for holding the council, as they did not want to change the leadership.20 As
shown in the following table ‘National Standing Committee’ is the highest policy making
body in the BNP consisted of 15 members nominated by the chairperson. To control and
coordinate the duties and responsibilities of party’s committees at various levels BNP has a
National Executive Committee with 251 members. Most of the positions of the party central
committee as well as branches and affiliated bodies were filled through appointment or
nomination by them or through their trusted ministers and members of parliament.

According the AL constitution, including the party president, presidium members,


organizing secretary and treasure, all office bearers are to be elected to their posts by the
councilors at the triennial council meeting. Although the AL holds its council meeting at
very three years, no one contests for the post of party president while other positions were
filled through elections. According to the AL’s constitution, the presidium (15 members)
enjoys supreme power but in theoretically party president’s decision is final. Most of the
presidium leaders have a tendency to show their loyalty to the party president. After the
presidium the Central Council (consisted of 73 members including the party president,
members of the presidium, the general secretary, secretaries, treasurer and 26 members
appointed by the party president in consultation with presidium members) is however
supreme decision making body it depends on the party president.

The fourth largest party of the country is Jatya Party (JP). Following the footsteps of Gen.
Ziaur Rahman, the JP was established by former President Gen. H.M. Ershad to civilianize
his military rule. In accordance with the provisions of the party constitution, the JP Chairman
20
New Age, September 4, 2006.
completely dominates the decision making process of his party. Although central committee
is the supreme policy making body, it mostly work under the direction of the party chairman.
According o Article 46 of the JP’s constitution, party chairman has absolute power to form,
suspend or abolish committees at all levels. The chairman also has absolute power to appoint
anyone to any post or suspend anyone from any post, with the power to replace any official of
the party with any person of his choice. He also enjoys absolute power of interpreting the
constitution. Therefore, Kohanerc noted that the formal rules establish a ‘single man’
dictatorship in the JP.21

Table 3.1: Highest Executive Bodies of the Major Political Parties in Bangladesh

Party Highest executive body Method of selection


BNP National Standing Committee All (15) members are nominated by the
chairperson.
AL Central Council Comprised of 73 members. Of them 26
members are appointed by the party
president in consultation with other office
bearers.
JIB Central majils-e-sura Elected by the Rokons.
JP Central Working Committee Members are elected by the council
Source: Compiled by the author based on the study of Political Parties in South Asia: The Challenge of
Change, Stockholm, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral assistance (IDEA), Sweden, 2007.

The JIB is headed by Amir-e-Jamat who is elected for three-year term by the direct secret
ballot of the rokons. It is worth mentioning that Central majils-e-sura members first elect a
three-member panel for the Amir-e-Jamat. If the he is unable to carry out his duties for more
than six months, he will consult with the central work council and select one person from the
Naib-e- Amirs and made him the temporary Acting Amir. Within six months the Acting
Amir will arrange for elections for a new Amir for the remaining period. But the majils-e-
sura can postponed the election for a reasonable period and extend the term of the Acting
Amir, but this period cannot exceed the time limit for the normal election period.

21
Kochanek, S.A. (2000), “Governance, Patronage politics, and democratic transition in Bangladesh”, Asian
Survey, Vol. 34, No.11, pp.530-550.
The political parties in Bangladesh adopted many democratic principles in their constitutions
but these are not properly followed. For example, in the last several years the BNP and the
JP did not call any council for electing their party chairperson. Although the AL called its
council meetings in every three years, no one contests for the post of the party president. The
leadership of the two major parties-BNP and AL is routinely passed on to Begum Khaleda
Zia, widow of late President Ziaur Rahman and Sheikh Hsina, daughter of Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman. It is observed that the BNP, the AL and the JP are highly personalized and
centralized. The entire party including the parliamentary wing revolves around the party
cheif. Parties have to be treated by founders or their successors as their personal property,
like business or companies.22

Although, all political parties have provisions in their constitutions to hold the party chief
accountable to the party members, but this provision has never been applied. Since power is
centralized to the party chief, there is a little chance for disagreeing or raising question about
the decisions taken by the party chairperson or president. If some one oppose to the decision
party chairperson can take disciplinary action against him/her. Such insecurity some times
causes in a party split or in some members leaving the party join to another. 23

Situation is different in other parties where party positions are filled according to the rank and
file. For example, the leaders of the JIB and the CPB are elected in accordance with
respective party constitutions. The leaders of the affiliated organizations of these parties are
also elected by the members of the respective organization.

All parties have provisions in their constitution to ensure party accountability. If any
member or leader violates party constitution or discipline party can take disciplinary action
against him/her. According to the party constitution party chairperson and specific
committee can take disciplinary action against the party man. However, in recent years issue
of disciplinary action has become a more serious problem. It has been observed that the
leaders or members who raised questions against decisions of the party chairperson are
expelled from the party in the name of ‘party discipline’. In the two major parties, party
chiefs control, supervise and coordinate all the activities of the party. However, they in turn

22
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral assistance (IDEA), op cit., p.107.
23
Ibid., p.101.
accountable to the national executive or working council, but these committees cannot and
do not take stand against decision taken by the party chief. They act as a rubber stamp or ex
post facto validation to the decision taken by the party chief.24

Ideology

Parties in Bangladesh cannot be distinguished on the ideological lines as ‘centre’ ‘right’ or


‘left’ continuum usually applied in the Western democracies. However, some scholars
located the parties following the Western continuum. For example, the BNP and the JP are
identified as centre-right party while the AL is referred as centre-left party. Ideology can be
examined from the election manifesto. In the post-1990s parliamentary lections, the Awami
League called for a mixed economy and a secular orientation, while the BNP advocated a
more Islamic outlook, introduced the policy of economic liberalization and privatized some
state-owned enterprises. The basic ideologies of the JP are mostly similar to those of the
BNP. The JP led by the former President Gen. H.M. Ershad supported Bangladeshi
nationalism, free economy and presidential form of government. While Gen. Ersahd was in
state power Islam was declared as state religion in the Constitution through the Eighth
Amendment. In the election manifestos, JP advocated to reforms the existing laws in line
with the principles of the Quoran and Sunnah but they claimed that they intended to protect
the rights of all religious groups.

JIB is a pro-Islamic party committed for establishing Islamic ideology in to the state system.
It was originally established in Lahore in 1941. The JIB was constitutionally (Article 38)
banned along with other three Islamic political parties in 1972 because of its anti-independent
movement role. It is worth mentioning that during the liberation war the JIB supported the
Pakistani army and participated in many killings. The JIB appeared in politics publicly in
1979 under the Political Parties Regulation Act, 1976.

In the election campaign, party leaders use various terms such as nationalist, democratic,
secular, socialist, religious and liberal to describe their parties. But most of them do not have
well articulated ideology. It is worth mentioning that although JIB believed in different
ideology they worked with both AL and BNP. It is observed that the major parties- BNP,
24
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral assistance (IDEA), op cit., p.101.
AL, JP and JIB kept their ideology flexible for winning the elections. In the recent past
elections ‘issues’ and ‘money’ play more important role than ideology and program.

Table 3.2: Profiles of Major Political Parties in Bangladesh

Party Self-description Support basis


(year of foundation)
BNP Nationalist, democratic and All sections and classes of people, but get
(1978) liberal greater support from religious, military
and business group

AL Liberal, democratic, secular All groups of people, including ethnic


(1949) and nationalist and minorities

JIB Islamic and conservative but Religious and business group


(1979) pragmatic
JP(Ershad) Nationalist, believed in All sections and classes of people but
(1986) Islamic Shariah Laws business group and a section of people
benefited from Ershad government

CPB Left, socialist Working class and oppressed people


(1948)

Source: Compiled by the author based on the study of Political Parties in South Asia: The Challenge of Change,
Stockholm, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral assistance (IDEA), Sweden, 2007.

Support Base

Political parties in Bangladesh are mass parties in nature. Membership is open to all and any
one can join any political party. Although, JIB defines themselves as mass party, they are
generally called cadre party and membership is only open for the Muslims. The JIB’s
constitution stipulated that any mentally stable man or women who regularly performs faraz
(obligatory works) and wajib (obligatory works of lesser importance) of sarait can apply for
the membership. It means that Muslims who follow the Islamic norms only can be qualified
for the membership. But the other parties are secular and pluralistic.

Although, the BNP, the AL and the JP drew their workers and supporters from all strata of
society, retired civil-military bureaucrats and business group are associated with BNP and JP
while ethnic and minority groups work in favor of the AL while the JIB relies on the section
of religious peoples aspirant to see the Islamic ideology in the state principle. Two major
parties do not have any statistics about their membership strength and they do not make any
campaign or program for collecting the membership. However, the JIB does not disclose
their membership strength, but they have different kind of programs for collecting members.

Fund Management

Securitization of raising and spending party fund is increasingly gaining attention in party
research. Because parties without financial transparency have greater chance to impede to
the financial discipline of the state. In several reports featured by the TIB, NDI, IDEA and
other organizations political parties in Bangladesh are blamed for selling nomination and
political leaders including the parliamentarians are accused for large scale corruption. In this
circumstance, following the footsteps of other countries, development agencies are now
emphasizing in Bangladesh to enact rules and regulations for ensuring party financial
accountability.

Political parties in Bangladesh raise fund for maintaining party offices, utility services,
publicity and campaigning from the donation of party members, ministers, parliamentarians
and well wishers. But it is alleged that businessmen and industrialists including the bank
defaulters are the major contributors of party fund. Way of raising fund and spending is
almost similar of the major two parties. Industrialist, business men, parliamentarians,
ministers and party leaders are the major contributors. It has been reported that on an
average BNP spent yearly TK. 80 million and AL spent yearly Tk. 120 million for
maintaining their offices and organizing program including conference, meeting, rally and
etc. Including the party chief central leaders, parliamentarians and ministers contribute 20 to
25 percent of the total expenses and remaining fund is collected from the donation of
businessmen and industrialists. They also collect fund from their well wishers and
parliamentarians for organizing special programs like death anniversary of their former
leaders, conference, rally and hortal. Both AL and BNP disbursed TK. 5, 00,000 to 6, 00,000
lacks to their students’ wing for organizing their own programs. Poor and disable dedicated
party workers also receive donation from their parties. It is also observed that these two
major parties while they were in state power collected fund by granting development
projects and awarding regulatory approvals. Ministers, MPs and senior party leaders
collected money from different ways for their election expenses.
BNP has 5/6 accounts in different commercial banks. According to the party constitution, the
party treasurer is responsible to collect and maintain the accounts of the party funds.
Constitution also makes sure that bank account/s will be jointly operated by the signatures of
any two of the following three -- Chairperson, Treasurer and General Secretary, but the
Treasurer's signature must be there and there must an audit of the party funds every year. But
it is reported that last fifteen years BNP did not submit any audit report and party treasure
neither signed in any bank check last five years nor render his authority to any other person.
Because of his illness he could not go to the party office last five years. The question is who
operates party fund in the absence of the treasurer.

AL operates three accounts in two commercial banks (Mercantile Bank and United
Commercial Bank) in the joint name of party president, general secretary and the treasurer.
Party constitution stipulates that all fees and donations and income and expenditure of all
level of units must be kept in any scheduled bank and the funds must be audited. One daily
reported that party fund is audited regularly prior to the council meeting while another daily
news paper claims that they yet do not appoint any professional audit firm to scrutiny their
accounts. But both make sure that party treasurer does not actually operate party accounts. He
signs all checks at a time and keeps them to the party presidents so that she can spent money
as she needs.

Unlike the two major parties, JIB is seen more transparent in financial affairs. It is observed
that membership fee is the major source of their fund. According to the party constitution,
every member deposit 5 to 10 percent of their monthly income to the party fund. As it is
calculated, JIB has 52, 000 members of them 22, 000 Rokon and 30,000 advanced members
(going to be Rokon). They regularly contribute to the party fund except the insolvent or poor
members. Donation of the well wishers and like minded businessmen-industrialists from
home and abroad is another source of income. JIB yearly received TK.300 million from their
members as membership fee and Tk. 10 million from well the wishers and their members
settled in abroad. JIB members also contribute to party jakat fund for helping and
rehabilitating the poor party members. It is reported that their yearly expenses is bellow than
their yearly membership fees. Organizing seminar, meeting, conference, maintaining party
office including office rent, staff salary, vehicles, telephone and electricity bills are the major
heads of expenses.
Although, donation is one of the major source of party funding in Bangladesh but donations
are made public. Political parties according to their constitution are obliged to audit their
financial activities, but no party follow this rule properly. The two major parties do not make
any report on financial affairs. Although, party treasurer is responsible to operate party fund
but they do not have chance to perform their duties properly. Either party chief or his/her
nominated person operates party fund. Unlike the two major parties, the JIB operates and
maintains party fund according to party constitution.

It is generally agreed that irregular party funding is widespread where the overseeing
mechanism is weak. Donor agencies including the World Bank and international NGOs
proposed several mechanisms for bringing transparency to the party fund. The mechanisms
proposed include the public disclosure of all donations and sources of party funding and ban
on the use of state resources for party purposes. They suggested to enact laws regarding
receiving donation and spending on elections, by party nominees and the parties themselves.
Some countries have specific rules about securitizing and monitoring party fund. In the
developed democracies all transactions of the party are disclosed to the public through
printing and electronic media. However, the Bangladesh Election Commission makes it
mandatory for the candidates to disclose their financial information but there is no law
governing the party fund and the parties do not feel it necessary to disclose party fund to the
public. After the incident of 1/11, civil society, media, donor agencies and even some
political leaders demand to disclose financial affairs on the website of the party for ensuring
accountability and transparency.

Public Access to Party Information

For strengthening inner-party democracy party deliberation process must be transparent and
people should have access to information. Parties in Bangladesh maintain a contact with their
members though varying degrees. Major parties publish papers and bulletins as well as
maintain a website to keep closer the party members and the public with the party policy and
programs. Party members who are interested can contact to the party central leaders through
their local leaders. Though all parties do not hold their national convention regularly, the
party leaders visit local party offices and hold meetings with their members in special
occasion particularly prior to the election and movement. In such meetings party members
can express ideas and concerns.

Party convention or council is one of the main ways to contact party members. Although, all
parties have provisions in their constitutions to hold party convention at regular basis, but the
BNP did not call any council last fifteen years. Similarly the JP did not call their party
convention regularly. The AL and the JIB hold their party convention regularly. It has been
observed that in the AL party convention members expressed their views and opinion
vigorously. Most the members who had a chance to speak at this meeting highly criticized
their central as well as local leaders.

Dilemma of Party Reform

Since the independence, Bangladesh has shifted from one system to another. The year
between 1972 and 1975 was a period of the beginning of parliamentary democracy with an
authoritarian party rule. The years between 1975 and 1990 were marked by a continuous
power struggle within the army. Military rulers consolidated their positions by creating new
political parties and holding national elections.25 Despite the restoration of parliamentary
form of democracy in 1990s the authoritarian tendencies on the part of the ruling party and
the agitational politics of the opposition resulting unstable political system.26 Therefore,
donor agencies, civil society and media are giving emphasis for ensuring accountability and
transparency in political parties. It gets momentum in 2007 when the military backed Non-
Party Caretaker Government in many ways forced the political parties to reform their
organizational structures.

The BNP’s Secretary General, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, first disclosed a set of party reform
proposals in mid June 2008 aimed democratization of the party leadership. As a section of
leaders of the BNP, the AL presidium members Abdur Razzak, Tofail Ahmed, and Suranjit
Sengupta also come to the public with separate reform proposals. Following their footsteps
the JP formed a sub-committee to bring changes to its constitution. Though they first

25
Mitra, Subrata K. and Enskat, Mike, “Introduction’’, in Mitra, Subrata K. and Enskat (ed.), op cit., pp.20-
21.
26
Suri, K.C. et. al, op cit, pp.42-45.
proposed for curbing the authority of the party chairman/president but they came back to their
previous position arguing in favor of their party chief.
CHAPTER IV

Candidate Selection Process in Bangladesh

There is significant variation among political parties as to which actors choose


candidates for the parliament and what methods they employ to do
so. This chapter intends to examine how the political parties in Bangladesh select their
candidates for the parliamentary elections and who are involved in this process. This study
also identifies the factors that have considerable influence in selecting the party candidates.
With necessary illustrations the present chapter focuses on the social standing of the
candidates who were selected by the party in power for the last parliamentary election held in
2009.

Legal Framework

Bangladesh has a unicameral legislature consisted of 300 members elected through a first-
past-the-post system in single-member constituencies and 45 women members selected by
the parties based on their share of seats in the legislature. The Bangladesh Constitution does
not specify the basic type of electoral law for selecting the parliamentary candidates. The
Constitution makes no reference to political parties, other than mentioning parties in the
context of parliamentary functions. A significant change has been made in the
‘Representation of the People Order’ to ensure free and fair election. The ‘Representation of
the People Order 1972’ amended in 2008 incorporating some new provisions. The new laws
have made registration with the EC mandatory for a political party willing to participate in
parliamentary polls. Another new provision is also added in the RPO seeking to democratize
the candidate selection process. In accordance with the provision of RPO, political parties are
not allowed to nominate candidates for the parliamentary elections without having grassroots
committees' recommendations in this regard. Members of ward, union, thana, upazila and
district committees of a party have to prepare jointly panels of prospective candidates for the
constituencies concerned. The candidates will be finally selected by the party central
committee or parliamentary board from the panel made by prepared by their grassroots
committees. According to the RPO provision, parties cannot pick contenders from the
parliamentary constituencies without getting proposals from the grassroots leaders. Including
two BNP and AL all major parties intended to participate in the parliamentary election
incorporated the mandatory RPO provision in their constitution to qualify for registration
with the Election Commission. Finally the electoral laws regarding nomination of candidates
were not implemented in the last parliamentary election held in January 2009. The BNP and
JP selected the candidates following their traditional procedures meanwhile the Awami
League (AL) selected almost all its candidates from grassroots panels.

Who Makes the Selection?

Like the Indian National Congress or the BJP, political parties in Bangladesh set up a central
selection committee called ‘Parliamentary Board’ to select the candidates for the
parliamentary election. This board performs as a gatekeeper of candidate selection. For
example, the AL constitution in its Article 27 makes it mandatory for the party to set up a
Parliamentary Board to supervise the selection process. The district or constituency level
party committee makes a panel scrutinizing the applications of the aspirant candidates the
final decision takes the Parliamentary Board. The board has eleven members including the
party president, general secretary and the deputy leader of AL’s parliamentary party are the
members of the board by virtue of their offices and other members are elected by the council
from among the AL Council members. This parliamentary board is however given all
authority to select candidates; the party chief takes the final decision.

In line with the provision of the BNP’s constitution, a parliamentary board is appointed under
the leadership of the party chairperson. The party’s standing committee members and in the
selection of a candidate for particular district, the president of the district committee, three
vice-presidents and general secretary are appointed as members for that meeting. The
parliamentary board enjoys supreme authority to select any person from the list sent by the
grass root committee. The board can also nominate any persons outside the list if s/he is
important for the party. Although, parliamentary board is constitutionally supreme decision
making body, BNP’s Senior Joint Secretary President Traeq Zia, son of Begum Khleda Zia,
had considerable influence in selecting candidates for the eighth parliamentary election. In
selecting the candidates for the ninth parliamentary election, Tareq Zia could not play any
rule. It is said that the military backed NCG forced him to leave the country in the name of
medical treatment. In his absence a group party leaders who were to close party chief
supervised the candidate selection process.
Like the two major parties, JP also has a parliamentary board with eleven members. Party
chairman acts as chairman of the PB and general secretary is the ex-officio secretary of the
PB. Other nine members are selected by the party chairman. Although PB is constitutionally
empowered to select the candidates, but in practice party chairman chose the candidates, PB
formally approves his decisions only. Article 25 of the JP constitution asserted that the party
chairman will chose parliamentary leader, deputy leader, chief whip and whip from the
reliable members of the JP parliamentary party and they will work in the parliament
consulting with the party chairman. Article 25(4) makes it mandatory for the members of the
JP parliamentary party to comply with the direction of the party chairman. Such
constitutional provisions authorized the party chairman to control parliamentarians tightly.

Selection Process

The party first appoints a parliamentary board in according to the provision of the party
constitution. The parliamentary board selects the candidates through interviews. It is
observed that aspirants were appeared to the parliamentary board for a formal interview but
there was no written procedure or grading system for selecting candidates. The parliamentary
board organized selected the candidates after an instant evaluation. During the interviews PB
evaluates the applications submitted by the aspirant candidates. Selection process begins with
collecting the application from the party office. Before the election, aspirant candidates first
have to buy a prescribed nomination application form from the party central office and to
submit it to the party office within a specific date with detailed particulars. The parliamentary
board evaluates the applications during the interview of the nomination seekers.
Parliamentary board makes a rank order of the nomination seekers evaluating their qualities,
previous parliaments experience, financial capacity, service and loyalty to the party,
popularity and possibility to win the election. The parliamentary board collects the necessary
information about the candidates from the local party office bearers. Both the BNP and AL
send a survey team to the constituency to collect information and assess party strength. After
assessing all of these factors the parliamentary board finally declares the candidature. For the
first time the AL Parliamentary Board selected candidates based on the recommendations
made by the grassroots level committees. Selected candidates receive a formal nomination
letter from the parliamentary board along with the signature of the party chief. The candidates
then submit a copy of the party nomination to the district's Returning Officer to inform that
his party has given him/her the nomination for allocation of the party's polls symbol.
Fig.4.1: Party Candidate Selection Process

Party announces the date for collecting and Aspirant Candidates collect the application
submitting
Both the BNP and the application
the AL form
start their candidate selection process
form and submit it to with selling
the party office. application form

from their central party office. In the last ninth parliamentary election, the AL started the
three-day
Grassroots sale of nomination
level party papers
committee makes a on November 5 the
PB sends in copies
the morning with selling a form for
of the applications
panel from the name of aspirant candidates to the grassroots committee.
ALand
chief Sheikh
submits it to theHasina. Since
party central morning nomination aspirants from across the country started
office.

coming to the AL central office accompanied by their supporters. They submitted their
application form to the party’s central office by 5:00pm on November 7. The central office
PB takes an interview of individual
sentnomination
a copy of the and
seekers application form to the presidents
evaluates their and
PB finally general
declares secretaries
candidature of their respective
and gives
application form. nomination through a formal letter.
upazila or thana units. The local-level leaders prepared a panel of maximum five prospective
Source: Adopted by the Author
nominees in extended unit meetings and sent their names to the AL parliamentary board by
November 9. The PB evaluated the applications during the interviews and selected the
candidates from the panel sent by the local party office. From the survey of 150 constituency
candidate panel lists it is calculated that the PB selected 30 candidates ignoring the list
prepared by the grassroots level committees. During the selection of candidates the
supporters of the leaders who were denied nomination went out on demonstrations in protest
as their candidates were not nominated for the election. The following Table 4.1 shows that
most of the candidates (80%) nominated by the AL were recommended by the grassroots
level party committees. Only 30% candidates were selected whose name were not in the
panel sent by the local level party committees and most of them were elected to the
parliament.

Comparatively the BNP started their candidate selection process later than the AL. They
started sale of nomination forms on November 25 with party leaders and three days later
completed interview of all those seeking its nominations but did not disclose names of the
candidates to avoid intra-party rift. The BNP did not send the applications to the local level
party committees for their opinion. The PB collected necessary information by using
preliminary reports from its internal candidate evaluations team and independent surveys.
The Table 3.1 shows that the highest numbers of application forms were sold by the BNP
amid a wide criticism against the party leaders for amassing wealth illegally.

Table: 4.1 Candidates Selected by the AL for the Election 2008


Panel Position Nominated Elected Not Elected
First 84 78 6
Second 17 17 0
Third 10 10 0
Fourth 7 6 1
Fifth and bellow 2 0 2
Out of List 30 26 4
Total 150 137 13
Noted: Data is calculated on 150 seats on the basis of purposive sampling. Source: Author

Table: 4.2 No. of Candidates Selected by the BNP and the AL for the Election 2008

Application form Application form Nominated


Sold Submitted For Constituencies
BNP AL BNP AL BNP AL
Dhaka 1800 2301 1200 90 88
Chittagong 500 443 275 54 55
Sylhet 55 95 40 17 18
Rajshahi 370 452 276 56 55
Barisal 300 206 150 20 19
Khulna 155 261 128 25 34
Total 3180 2758 2069 262 269
Source: Compiled by the Author based on news papers reports.
Who Got the Nomination?

The ninth parliamentary election was held on December 29, 2008 under the military backed
Neutral Caretaker Government (NCG). In this election, a total of 2,460 nomination papers
were filed by contestants nominated by 39 political parties and 391 independent candidates.
Finally 1555 candidates contested for 299 general seats of them 58 were female candidates.
The Bangladesh Awami league (AL) put up 269 candidates and distributed rest of the seats to
its allies meanwhile the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) contested in this election making
alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB), the Bangladesh Jatiya Party (JP) and the
Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ). The both alliances led by BNP put up candidates in this election with
mutual understanding and contested with the same symbol but keeping their own party
manifesto. Among the 300 constituencies highest number of nominations were filed (235) for
the eights constituencies of Dhaka Metropolitan city.

Like the previous parliamentary elections, most of the candidates of the ninth parliamentary
elections were business-industrialists. Highest number of candidates of such profession
contested in the ninth parliamentary election with the ticket of the BNP. Since 1975 both
civil-military government offered various incentives to enrich the wealth of the business-
industrialist class and they in turn used their wealth to capture political power and use it for
their further enrichment.

As the major parties including the AL, the BNP and the JP preferred to select moneyed men
to contest in election many local levels party leaders and activists did not get the party
nomination. During the selection candidates parties mainly made emphasis on winability of
the aspirant candidates rather than their political experiences and seniority. A prominent
journalist of the country observed that political parties sell nominations to financially affluent
people or businessmen who are contributing huge amounts of money to get nomination
without having any political background.27

Traditionally, the Bangladesh parliament was dominated by the members who had served
their parties for a long time and acquired experience in professional politics. But the number
of professional politicians has been gradually declining in the JS since 1975. Military

27
Karim, Rezaul (2004), “Party Nomination on Sale”, The Daily Star, 13th Anniversary issue, December, 2004.
intervation and rise of business industrial class in politics weakened their positions. As shown
in the Table 4.3 only few candidates were politicians by profession.

Table 4.3 Professional Background of the Candidates of the Election 2008

Profession BNP AL JP JIB


Business 157 114 36 15
Law 20 36 8 1
Military Bureaucrats 10 15 1 -
Civil Bureaucrats 20 17 3 -
Doctor, Eng and others 11 30 6 10
Politicians 4 5 2 2
Agriculture 18 23 2 6
Others 16 5 3 4
Total 256 245 61 38
Source: compiled by the researcher based on reports published in various national dailies and magazines.

Over the last two decades, civil and military bureaucrats appear as the dominating force in
politics. Military intervention in politics in 1975 and onwards encouraged them to enter the
political arena either after finishing their tenure or by resigning from their profession. The
Table 4.3 shows that both AL and BNP nominated a large of candidates who were retired
civil bureaucrats. Like the civil bureaucrats retired military officers is also dominating group
in the party. This time large number of former military officers (40 candidates) was
nominated by the major political parties including the BNP, the AL and the JP while 23
former military officers were nominated for the 8th parliamentary elections. It is worth
mentioning that the JIB did not nominate any candidate of such profession to contest the
ninth parliamentary election. The Table 4.3 shows that highest numbers of retired military
officers were nominated by the AL. AL led 14 party alliances nominated 16 retired army
officers for 18 constituencies while the BNP nominated 10 former army officers for 10
constituencies. Among the former military bureaucrat candidates, Gen. H. M. Ershad was
nominated for three constituencies. Initially the BNP and the AL nominated 17 candidates
each and other parties nominated 15 candidates of such profession for 54 constituencies. The
Liberal Democratic Party nominated two retired military officials for three constituencies and
the Bangladesh Kalyan Party nominated two retired army officers including the party
chairman for four constituencies. In the 2001 general elections, major political parties
nominated at least 23 former army officers. Of them, the BNP nominated 13 candidates,
Awami League 8, Jatiya Party 4 and Jamaat-e-Islami 1. In the suspended 2007 general
elections, the parties nominated at least 18 candidates. Of them, the BNP nominated 11
candidates, Awami League 5 and Jatiya Party nominated 2 candidates.

Table 4.4 Women Candidates Selected by the Parties for the Elections (1991-2008)

Party Contested Elected

No. of Seats No. of Candidates No. of Seats No. of Candidates

AL 20 18 18 16

BNP 15 13 5 3

JP 2 1 - -

JIB - - - -

Others 26 25 - -

Total 62 58 23 19
Source: Compiled by the author based on reports published in various national dailies and weeklies.

Though the number of women candidates in comparison with the number for the last three
parliamentary elections has been increased, women are still minority in the parliament. In the
seventh parliamentary election, the parties nominated 36 female candidates for 48 general
seats and in the eighth parliamentary election 38 female candidates contested for 46 general
seats. The Table 4.4 shows that the highest number female candidates were selected for the
ninth parliamentary election. Altogether 62 female candidates were selected by the parties for
58 general seats. The parties have nominated 25 of their leaders including the party chiefs and
others were either wives or daughters of party leaders who had been convicted under the
Emergency Power. For example, the BNP selected eleven female candidates for the
constituencies of their convicted husbands. Farida Akhter of the Ubinig (a non-government
organization) criticized the parties for nominating women candidates, in many cases, ‘only to
guard the constituencies of ineligible male leaders.’28

Factors Influenced the Candidate Selection

There are several factors that have considerable influence in the selection of party candidates.
During the process of selecting candidates following factors appeared to be important:

28
New Age,
Parties in Bangladesh first considered the candidate’s ability to win the election. This in turn
depends upon the candidate’s image in the constituency, his/her connection with the local
elites, ability to influence the voters and ability to bear the high election expenses. As the
political parties gave maximum emphasis on 'seat politics' the candidates who have such
capacity were nominated by the parties for the election.

The candidates who have contribution to the party and have a relationship with high-level
leaders were also preferred in selecting the candidates. More important the candidates who
are close to the party chief or relatives were selected as the party nominee. In the

The ninth parliamentary election held in a different background. As discussed earlier, military
backed interim government forced the party leaders to go against their party chiefs. In this
circumstance, parties nominated candidates based on actions of candidates before and after
the 1/11 changeover. Many top ranking leaders who came with strong backing of military
backed interim government for party reform were not given nomination for the last
parliamentary election. Though AL selected some reformist leaders as their nominees the
BNP chairperson was very much against selecting them for the parliamentary election.

Mononoyan Banijya

However, political parties in Bangladesh have PB and institutional procedure for selecting
candidates for the parliamentary elections, but practically they do not exercise a democratic
selection procedure. It is observed that aspirants are appeared to the PB for a formal interview
but there is no written procedure or grading system for selecting candidates. The PB
organizes an ostensible interview board and after an instant evaluation they offer the
nomination, which is undemocratic.29 In practice, party chief can award nomination to any
one considering his/her social status and ability to win the poll. In the post-1990s
parliamentary elections, regretting the candidacy of the dedicated party workers two major
political parties the BNP and the AL awarded nomination to those candidates who were able
to contribute huge amounts of money to the party fund and to spent money in the election
campaign for winning the polls. Besides this, many candidates have paid huge sums of
money to party leaders for lobbying in favor of his/her candidacy. A national daily paper

29
Hossain, Amran, Parties and Party System in Bangladesh, unpublished Ph. D thesis, the University of
Sheffield, England, 2007, p.65.
reported that both the BNP and Awami League sold 40 to 50 nominations each in the eighth
parliamentary elections held on October 1, 2001 at a cost of up to Tk 5 crore. Through such
nomination trade, many corrupt businessmen and black money owners obtained nomination.30

Through “mononoyan banijya” or "nomination trade" many businessmen-industrialists got


the nomination and became the Members of the parliament. The Table 4.2 shows that the AL
nominated 114 candidates were business-industrialists and the BNP nominated 157
candidates of such profession. A section of retired civil and military bureaucrats joined the
major parties just before the election with the intention to contest the upcoming elections with
party nomination. As it is calculated, AL nominated 16 former army officers while 10 former
military bureaucrats contested in the election with the ticket of BNP. They were given
nomination because the parties have apparently given maximum emphasis on 'seat politics'.

The parties received also a huge amount of money from the aspirant candidates by selling
application form. For example, the BNP earned about Tk 4.43 crore from the sale and
submission of nomination papers. To become an electoral candidate, the aspirant aspirants
paid Tk 1,000 for buying each form and Tk 20,000 while submitting the form to the party’s
central office. The money BNP earned from submitting nomination forms was a higher than
the AL earned. The AL earned about Tk. 2.07 crore by selling a total of 2,758 nomination
forms each for at Tk.7, 500.

Who were Elected

With the taking of power by the military backed interim government the general election of
2007 was postponed for an undefined period. The constitution of Bangladesh, however,
provides holding election within 120 days of formation of the Caretaker government. The
military backed interim government worked on ‘minus two formula’ which means ousting AL
Sheikh Hasina and BNP chief Begum Khaleda Zia. They tried to recast the political system of
the country with their selected peoples but they failed to establish them in the political arena.
On 15 July 2007, the Election Commission published a road map for the election, promising to
hold the election before the end of 2008. A general election finally took place on 29 December
2008 which was originally scheduled for January 2007.

30
The Daily Prothom Alo, Dhaka, Januray 14 & 15, 2007.
In this election, the AL obtained the majority with overwhelming victory in 230 constituencies
and its allies obtained 32 seats. The BNP came up as the major opposition party with 30 seats
and its allies elected only from 3 constituencies. The strength of parties in the Jatiya Sangsad,
as it emerged after the general election of December 2008 is as follows:

Table 4.5 Result of the Bangladesh Jatiya Sangshad Election, December 2008

Alliances Party Candidates Elected Change


Grand Bangladesh Awami League 245 230 +168
Alliance
Jatiya Party 46(+15) 27 +16
Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal 3 3 +2
Workers Party of Bangladesh 6 2 +1
Four Party Bangladesh Nationalist Party 256 30 –163
Alliance
Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh 34 (+4) 2 –15
Bangladesh Jatiya Party-BJP 2 1 –4
Islami Oikyo Jote 2 - -
Jamiat-e-Olama-e-Islam 2 - -
Independents and others 5 –2

Total 300
Source: Electoral Commission of Bangladesh seat-wise tally Election commission homepage

The social standing of the parliament members shown in the Table 4.4 indicates that the
Business-industrial class remained the dominant group in the ninth parliament. The second
largest group of the parliamentarians is retired civil-military bureaucrats. Many of them
entered politics just before the election. On the contrary the percentage of professional
politicians gradually reduced in the parliament, as it is calculated altogether 16 candidates of
such profession were elected in the ninth parliament. Members from other professions (such
as framers, professionals, trade union and students leaders) are still marginalized in the
parliament.

In the Western parliaments, most of the parliamentarians have strong academic background
because higher studies or expertise on subject matter is one of the preconditions for securing
a parliamentary mandate. Unlike the developed democracies, political parties in Bangladesh
did not apparently consider the academic background in selecting the candidates for the
election. Electoral laws although does not mention anything about the educational
qualification of the parliamentary candidates. Though are many parliamentarians who have
no formal education but there are many parliamentarians who studied in the universities.
Figure shows that majority of the members (85.6%) of the Fifth JS were graduates while only
14.4% of the members were undergraduates. Similar picture was also found in the Seventh
and the Eighth parliament. In the ninth parliamentary election, few candidates were
nominated by the major political parties who have no formal education. Therefore it is seen
that most of the MPs have graduate and post-graduate degree.

Like many of other parliaments of the world, the Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad is also male
dominated. In the election of 2008, out of 52 women candidates only 19 candidates were
elected from the general seats. In the eighth parliamentary election, parties nominated 27
women candidates for 37 general seats. Among them only six women candidates (16%) were
elected for 13 general seats. Women representation in the Ninth parliament is higher than the
previous one because this time number of reserved seats for the women has been increased
from 30 to 45. The nomination process and the electoral principle of reserved seats for
women render women’s participation in the legislature dependent on the patrons of the male
elites of the party in power. “Women MPs are often told by male MPs that they are selected
and not directly elected and thus they indirectly remind them of their vulnerable position”.31
The donor agencies, NGOs, civil society and academia are therefore advocating for making
the parliament more “woman-friendly”.

31
Bhuiyan, Rbia (1999), “The Representation of Women’s Issues in the Parliamentary Committee System”, in
Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad and Institute of Parliamentary Studies, Parliamentary Committee System,
Conference Report, Dhaka, 1999, p.221.
Table 4.6 Social Composition of the Members of the Jatiya Sangsad

Background 5th JS 7th JS 8th JS 9th JS


Occupational Background
Businessmen 160 144 171 169
Former Army Officers 17 18 5 15
Former Civil Servants 6 6 3 14
Lawyers 56 51 11 44
Doctors, Eng., Journalists 42 27 11 20
Politics 6 12 7 16
Others 13 42 6 22
Educational Background
Postgraduate 38 40.25 42.38 111
Graduate 46 45.28 47 135
Undergraduate 16 10.37 10 45
Others - 4.1 0.62 9
Parliamentary Experiences
No Experience 204 120 87 163
Experience of one JS 51 81 86 60
Experience of two JS 21 99 82
Experience of three JS 12 - 31
Experience of four JS 12 - 12
Experience of five JS - - 2
Source: Talukder Maniruzzaman, Politics and Security of Bangladesh, Dhaka: University Press Limited, 1994,
pp. 150-57, Nizam Ahmed, op cit., p.70, A S M Samsul Arefin, Election in Bangladesh (1970-2001), Dhaka:
Bangladesh Research and Publications, 2003. Data on the eighth and the ninth parliament is calculated by the
author.
CHAPTER V

Conclusion

As it is observed in this study political parties in Bangladesh are not democratic internally.
Although political parties have democratic principles in their constitution, but in practice most
of the major parties do not follow these principles. There had been a great gap between the
theoretical role of the parliamentary board of political parties and the personal power and
authority of the party chiefs. It is already discussed that all political parties in Bangladesh
have parliamentary boards but parliamentary candidate selection is highly centralized.
Parliamentary candidate selection was not made through democratic process.

In the post-1990s parliamentary elections, regretting the candidacy of the dedicated party
workers two major political parties the BNP and the AL awarded nomination to those
candidates who were able to contribute huge amounts of money to the party fund and to spent
money in the election campaign for winning the polls. It is observed that money, maoussel
and social status played a vital in the nomination process. Therefore, undemocratic means of
candidate selection process in recent years termed as ‘nomination trade’. It is widely
publicized that many candidates have paid huge sums of money to party leaders for lobbying
in favor of his/her candidacy. Through “mononoyan banijya” or "nomination trade" many
businessmen-industrialists got the nomination and became the Members of the parliament.
Such practice not only affected the image of the parties, it also created a new political class
who intended to use their parliamentary position to make money.

It is discussed that political parties in Bangladesh have parliamentary boards but


parliamentary candidate selection is highly centralized. Parliamentary candidate selection was
not made through democratic process. Therefore the civil society, the donor agencies, NGOs
and academia are working and advocating for making the political parties democratic
internally. The Bangladesh Election in this regard amended the RPO adding that parties
should make their nomination through the election at constituency level. In this election, the
Awami League selected the candidates based on the recommendations made by the grassroots
level committees but the BNP did not follow such approach by referring to the shortage of
time to consult with its workers at the local level.
Due to the absence of democratic principal in the party governance party members could
hardly 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 party
discipline 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 process
effectively.

For making the political parties democratic internally following principles should be
practiced in the party governance:
- Political party must be democratic in their internal structure;
- Party convention or council should be held regularly;
- Party top brass leaders should be accountable to the party members;
- Party members should have participation in the party policy or decision making
process;
- In the selection of candidates political parties should emphasis on political
professionalism rather than the personal choice and loyalty ;
- Parties should introduce the primary candidate selection method so that party
members can participate in selecting the candidates;
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Shaptahik 2000

Shaptahik