General Elections have just been held in Bangladesh. The results are quite astounding. The Awami League party led by Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina won 98% of parliamentary seats. This achievement will make PM Sheikh Hasina take her position for the fourth time. But the opposition considers the ruling government has used all means to win the general elections. Even, some parties consider her government to be authoritarian.
The election this time was marked by the detention of a journalist from a local newspaper. This reporter revealed the potential for fraud after seeing one of the electoral districts having around 20 thousand votes. This was more than the List of Registered Voters in the region. Then, the police arrested the reporter on charges of violating the Digital Security Act. But, the law is considered controversial.
Indeed, under the current administration, Bangladesh's growth rate has been said to be good for the past four years. In 2014, the economic growth of the country with a population of 167 million reached 6.3 percent. In 2017, it increased to 7.4% mainly contributed by trade with the United States and the European Union. But domestic voices want a positive rate of economic growth accompanied by positive democracy. Now, that hope is not realized yet. Opposition accusations are that the government is blocking voters’ sympathy to the opposition, following the arrest of pro-opposition activists. The United States, which is the biggest investor in the country, is ambiguous. On one hand, it expressed concerns over violence and intimidation ahead of the election. On the other hand, the USA gave appreciation to voters in Bangladesh.
On January 10, the new government of Bangladesh will be sworn in to lead the country. Bangladesh needs to learn from other countries that encourage economic improvement without abandoning the fundamental principles of democracy. Some countries with Confucian culture prioritize economic improvement by neglecting democracy. We look forward to whether there have been changes in the development of democracy in Bangladesh by the newly-elected government.