The coalition led by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League clinched a landslide victory with an over two-thirds majority in the nation’s 11th parliamentary elections on Sunday. The massive victory gave Hasina a third straight term but Bangladesh’s opposition rejected what it called “farcical” results and demanded a new vote. Western powers including the US and the EU on Tuesday denounced election day violence and a range of other irregularities that allegedly marred the electoral campaign, further fueling the opposition uproar.
Bangladesh is on the cusp of transformative social and economic change. At this moment, it’s particularly important for the country to curb political polarization and maintain social stability. Bangladesh should be vigilant about Western intervention as partisan confrontation may worsen.
The constitution of Bangladesh, which came into effect in 1972, stipulates a multi-party parliamentary system, and on that basis, the first election was held in March 1973. Since then, the country has had a conundrum familiar to many other developing countries -general elections are often shrouded in controversy due to fierce competition and confrontation between the ruling party and the opposition.
Loopholes in parliamentary systems have become more apparent than ever in recent years in Western democracies. Parties vie for political power for the partisan benefit rather than the national interest. In developing countries like Bangladesh where a strong government, effective governance and consistent policies are of great importance to meet development demands, the negative impact of a multi-party system are more prominent.
If not well managed, the system can result in conflicts and retard the country’s development. To overcome the negative effects of the multi-party system, Bangladesh should mull over how to build and strengthen consensus among relevant parties and reduce division.
Now it’s up to Hasina to call for Bangladesh’s political parties to abandon confrontation and unite to build the country. Recent years have seen remarkable economic progress and improvement in social indicators in Bangladesh, which constitute a key reason why voters have put their trust in Hasina for a third consecutive term. Bangladesh under Hasina last year had its economy expand at 7.9 percent, faster than its neighbor India. During the campaign, Hasina promised to accelerate economic growth to 10 percent in the next five years, slash the poverty rate to 9 percent by 2020 from 21.8 percent and create more employment opportunities. To achieve these goals, political stability is imperative.
It’s worth noting that Bangladesh under Hasina has maintained friendly cooperative relations with China. Lu Kang, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, extended congratulations to the Awami League on winning the election under the leadership of Hasina saying China would like to work with the new Bangladeshi government to move forward the China-Bangladesh strategic partnership of cooperation.
Bangladesh is an important country along the Belt and Road. China has invested $10 billion in infrastructure projects which will help the trade and investment environment, people’s livelihoods and create jobs for local people. Stabilising politics and reducing partisan confrontation will help reduce the political risks Belt and Road projects face in Bangladesh. The most effective way for political parties and politicians to win support is not political struggle, but to improve the well-being of the people.