Crisis of Confidence: A Critical Evaluation of the Role of Caretaker Administration in Elections Held Under Caretaker Governments in Bangladesh

Dr Wares Karim
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One of the major uncertainties looming the political horizon of Bangladesh is whether the main opposition party is going to take part in the next general election due to be held in January 2007. The uncertainty stems from the party’s (and its allies) most recent demands calling for amendments to the constitutional provisions concerning the formation and operations of non-party caretaker governments (CGs) and a number of significant reforms in electoral laws including in the composition and functioning of the Election Commission (EC) and its rejection of the newly prepared voters’ list. At the heart of the demand for reform in the system of caretaker government (CG) is an accusation that the head of the CG designate is biased to the current ruling party. The ruling party has allegedly amended the constitution to ensure that the person of their choice becomes the head of the next CG. The suspicion primarily is based on the role of the last CG in handling the October 2001 elections. This paper examines the role of the three past heads of CGs and evaluates the quality of the three elections held so far since the system of CGs has been installed in the constitution. It also attempts to explain the outcome of the last elections using a number of contextual variables.

Keywords: Caretaker government, elections, parliament.
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Crisis of Confidence

Dr Wares Karim

Senior Lecturer, School of Accounting, Victoria University of Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand

I was born in 1965 in a third world country - Bangladesh. I did my undergraduate and some post-graduate studies at Dhaka University in Bangladesh. I joined the staff of Dhaka University in 1989. I obtained a Commonwealth scholarship to pursue a PhD research in England in 1991. I did my PhD on corporate financial reporting at teh University of Leeds, UK. I returned to Bangladesh in 1995 and two years later I was offered a teaching position at Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. All my life I had a strong interest in politics and social issues. I studied Finance at DU and found that a lot of things we study do not apply in practice and vice-versa. But at least, Finance was closer to life than my current field, accounting, is. Nevertheless I kept my interest alive and carried out an empirical analysis on the last parliamentary elections held in Bangladesh in October 2001. My research was published as a book by the premier publisher in Bangladesh, UPL. I am still keen to study the determinants of electoral outcomes if elections are free and fair. I also have an interest in examining the quality of elections in developing countries.

Ref: I06P0440