DHAKA: As Bangladesh prepares for elections with out opposition, incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is poised to win and proceed her modernization imaginative and prescient at the price of vital democratic backsliding, critics say.
The South Asian nation of virtually 170 million folks will vote on Sunday in a ballot anticipated to offer the ruling Awami League its fourth straight parliamentary time period.
No main rivals are in sight for the prime minister as most have both confronted mass arrests of members or introduced in protest that they won’t participate within the vote.
The primary opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Get together estimates that police have arrested some 20,000 of its members and supporters in latest months. The BNP is boycotting the election as Hasina rejected calls for to permit the polls to be held below a impartial caretaker authorities.
Earlier than the Awami League’s win in 2009, the Bangladeshi system inspired three-month non-partisan governments to conduct elections and forestall irregularities throughout polls.
The apply was abolished by the ruling social gathering with a constitutional modification in 2011, and as Bangladeshis will go to the polls on Sunday, the candidates on the poll will all be from the Awami League, its allies and independents.
“The election will decide the longer term course of Bangladeshi politics. Whether or not an efficient multi-party system will exist after the so-called election is an open query,” Ali Riaz, a distinguished professor of political science from Illinois State College, advised Arab Information.
“The persecution of the opposition, notably the BNP, signifies that the federal government is unlikely to permit any substantive dissenting voices, not to mention a formidable opposition social gathering. The nation is heading towards changing into a de facto one-party state.”
For Riaz, the results of the upcoming vote is a “foregone conclusion.
“Sheikh Hasina will win the election. Whereas Hasina and her social gathering converse of a imaginative and prescient for the longer term, which highlights a story of growth and modernization, these have grow to be hole phrases to the folks of Bangladesh, who’re struggling immensely attributable to value hikes and low revenue,” he mentioned.
Bangladesh Imaginative and prescient 2041 is a nationwide strategic plan introduced by the prime minister in 2020 that goals to rid the nation of poverty and develop a sophisticated financial system by 2041.
The Muslim-majority nation, as soon as one of many world’s poorest, has been lauded for attaining financial success below Hasina’s management since 2009, which put Bangladesh on monitor to graduate from the UN’s record of least developed international locations in 2026.
Although it has lately been hit by hovering inflation, Bangladesh stays one of many fastest-growing economies within the area.
The World Financial institution estimates that greater than 25 million folks within the nation have been lifted out of poverty within the final twenty years.
“The regime stability that we had for the final 15 years, really, has contributed towards financial development. Though we now have faltered, it was not attributable to our issues, however largely due to the worldwide financial points rising from COVID-19 and the warfare in Ukraine,” Naimul Islam Khan, a political analyst and media pundit, advised Arab Information.
Khan believes that credit score for the expansion ought to go on to Hasina, daughter of Bangladeshi founding chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“She has been very instrumental in exhibiting that Bangladesh has a future … this is likely one of the most interesting issues that Sheikh Hasina offers Bangladesh with,” Khan mentioned.
Dr. A.S.M. Amanullah, a professor of sociology at Dhaka College, has additionally noticed “main accomplishments” achieved by Hasina’s authorities all through the previous 15 years.
“The primary one is political stability within the nation. Secondly, she managed to keep up financial stability throughout her first two phrases. Thirdly, there have been some main infrastructural developments within the nation, like Padma Bridge, metro rail within the capital, the Karnaphuli River tunnel, and many others.,” he mentioned.
However democratic apply was no extra.
“There is no such thing as a democratic apply at any stage in Bangladesh. Be it on the native stage, be it on the nationwide stage, be it on the political social gathering stage, be it in social organizations or another authorities and non-government ones,” Amanullah advised Arab Information.
It was not at all times like this. Within the Nineteen Eighties, the incumbent prime minister fought for multi-party democracy as she joined arms with different opposition leaders, additionally her rivals, together with BNP chief Khaleda Zia, to carry pro-democracy avenue protests towards the navy rule of Gen. Hussain Muhammad Ershad.
Zia has been below home arrest on corruption fees for years.
“We don’t want to attend till Jan. 7 to see the outcomes of the election. The folks of this nation are usually not ready to see the outcomes of the election,” Amanullah mentioned.
“Election means uncertainty within the outcomes: No person is aware of who would win. However there is no such thing as a uncertainty over the lead to Bangladesh. All through the nation, there’s a certainty among the many voters that the ruling Awami League is coming to energy.
“The voting tradition of South Asia is misplaced right here.”