What is electoral reform?


Electoral reform in Bangladesh is one of the most desired reform appeal recent times. Specially, after 9/11 it has started to formulized into a big picture because every times the democracy started to rule the country military laws forced to road and hampers the countries democracy. Now-a-days, politicians, bureaucrats, intellectuals and other professionals come forward to reform the law of electoral system with a fair means to sustain democracy into our country. It is necessary to form good governance into our country. Bad governance is without doubt the main cause of this crisis and politicians, elected through democratic process, are responsible for it.  This in turn suggests that our election laws have serious flaws that allow and encourage wrong people to occupy and operate key political offices of government. Naturally, these flaws must be pinpointed and corrective measures be taken to elect right people to these offices.

What is electoral reform?

It’s a change within the countries election process to meet the desired result or expectation over the period of time.

“Electoral reform is change in electoral systems to improve how public desires are expressed in election results. That can include reforms of: Voting systems, such as proportional representation, a two-round system (runoff voting), instant-runoff voting, approval voting, citizen initiatives and referendums and recall elections.” (1)

Electoral Reform Processes

There are some sort of fundamental things that why these electoral reform happens. First, we want a changed electoral system to take technical merit, i.e., we wish the law to define practical and consistent means to whatever ends the reform was intended to accomplish. Second, we want a changed electoral system to get a true break with the past when that is what people are demanding. Most of the time, especially in recognized democracies, people do not stipulate much of a break; in fact, the legitimacy of an electoral system often depends on enduring traditions deified by past practice. Finally, the outcome of a reform process should be viewed as legitimate by as many citizens as possible. The more legitimate the reform is, the

(1)     From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

better the electoral system can resolve the struggle for the right to rule and the longer the electoral system is likely to last.

An electoral reform depends to these three criteria depends a great deal on what process produces it. There are four basic types of electoral reform process:

1. Reform within a representative democratic regime,

2. Reform within an unrepresentative democratic regime,

3. Reform within a stable authoritarian regime; and

4. Reform during a transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

However, this type of reform or electoral reform should be taken under right steps to under go the certain position or holding position within the country. It is very much important for the countries democracy and other sort of judiciary criteria. Electoral reform happens in a certain period of time where all the expectation of comes to together and people have right to support the system. But sometimes authoritarian government holds that position to themselves to take control over them selves. As a example we say Myanmar, where Military rule have collapse the countries right to express their liberty.

Countries that experienced electoral reform:

There are certain countries that had been experienced electoral reform because of demand of people or to change the path of election or due to situation. Actually it happens in today’s world because people, political parties and institution raise a word called credibility of election. That’s when the reform formed in the name of electoral reform. We can that electoral reform is the demand of the time or to experience a new form of election.

Electoral Reform for Israel

There is only one way to bring about electoral reform in Israel — by a democratic “citizens revolt” in the form of a massive campaign of public mobilization. And exactly that’s happened afterward.

“What is needed is a half million to a million signatures on a petition that would demand a change in the electoral system. This should be presented to the Knesset by 50,000 citizens marching in Jerusalem. That is the only way to affect a break-down of the present resistance to electoral reform on the part of the powers that be.”(2)

Electoral Reform in Mexico

Mexico’s ruling party’s reversal in the July 1997 congressional and gubernatorial elections marks a great step onward in a lengthy and not always direct passageway toward democracy that stretches back nearly a quarter century.” Long regarded as an authoritarian regime because of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI) monopoly on important electoral victories and the capacity of the president to rule in effect as a six-year dictator. “(3)

Electoral reform in Canada

There are many efforts underway for electoral reform in Canada at federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal levels. At present the most dynamic are provincial. As of early 2006, two electoral reform referendums have been held. The British Columbia electoral reform referendum, 2005 to approve a single transferable vote. “In this referendum 57.7% of British Columbians (just short of the 60% necessary) voted in favour of the Single Transferable Voting system, while 43% voted against it. This left the Liberal government of BC open to the possibility of adopting the system due to the large mandate it received from voters. Both of BC’s major opposition parties—the New Democratic Party and the Green Party — support electoral reform.” (4)

(2)     Daniel J. Elazar articles

(3)     Joseph L. Klesner article

(4)     Gidengil, Elisabeth. 1996. “Gender and attitudes towards quotas for women candidates in Canada .” Women and Politics 16, no. 4: 21-44.  http://www.sfu.ca/~aheard/elections/reform.html

A Chilean example of adaptation to reform

Before returning Chile to democracy, General Pinochet reformed the electoral law to create 2-member districts all over the country. He assumed that this system would support the two largest parties–a conservative party sympathetic to him and the Christian Democratic Party–and practically wipe out the parties of the left. However, first three elections of the new democratic regime (1989, 1993, and 1997), the Christian Democrats and the left, allied against conservative parties, join together so that only one party from their alliance would present candidates in each district. This strategy preserved the smaller parties and permitted the left to survive.

A Venezuelan example of adaptation to reform:

In 1989, Venezuela moved from a PR system to a mixed-member proportional (MMP) system in which half the seats were filled in single-member districts. This reform was supposed to make national deputies more accountable to their local constituents and less obliged to national party leaders who had ranked candidates on party lists. But in 1993, national party leaders annoyed this reform by retaining control over nominations for the single-member-district seats and by ejecting deputies who broke party regulation.

Bangladesh electoral system:

Bangladesh started its journey with ups and down of government system. First it was Parlaimentary  system of government, than switched over to Presedential system and again to democrate government. Parliament consists of 300 hundred members elected in accordance with law from single-member territorial constituencies. Besides this there was a provision for 30 seats reserved entirely for women members up to the year 2000 who were elected according to law by the members of Parliament.

General Election of Members of Parliament :

The general election of members of Parliament is held within 90 days after previous government handed to caretaker government, whether by reason of the expiration of its term or otherwise than by reason of such expiration. (5) & (6)

Qualifications and Disqualifications for Election to Members of Parliament :

A person who can stand for election as a member of Parliament if he is a citizen of Bangladesh and has attained the age of 25 years. A person is disqualified for election as, or for being, a member of Parliament who-

(a) Declared by a competent court to be of mentally disorder;

(b) is an un discharged insolvent ;

(c) acquires the citizenship of a foreign state;

(d) has been, on conviction for a criminal offence, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release;

(e) which is declared by law not to disqualify its holders; or

(f) is disqualified for such election by or under any law.

(5)     Article 123 (3) of the Constitution

(6)     Bangladesh election commission official websites

The Representation of the People Order, 1972 provides that any elector of a constituency may propose or second for election to that constituency, the name of any person qualified to be a member under the Constitution : (6) a member if he/she –

(a) in the service of the Republic or of a statutory public authority a candidate holds any office profit

(b) is a bank debtor

Election Commission: the Constitution the superintendence according to Article 119, way and deal with  the preparation of the electoral rolls for elections to the office of President and to Parliament and the conduct of such elections vest in the Election Commission which shall, in accordance with this Constitution and any other law –(7)

(a) Office of President: hold elections ;

(b) Members of Parliament:  hold elections ;

(c) Parliament:  Delimit the constituencies for the purpose of elections ;

(d) the office of President and to Parliament: Prepare electoral rolls for the purpose of elections

The modes and procedures for holding elections to the members of Parliament are laid down in the Representation of the People Order, 1972,(8) as amended in pursuance of law.

(6) & (7) http://www.ecs.gov.bd/Bangla/

(8) “(1) Any elector of a constituency may propose or second for election to that constituency, the name of any person qualified to be a member under clause (1) of Article 66 of the Constitution :

Provided that a person shall be disqualified for election as or for being, a member, if he?

(a) is not listed in the electoral roll of any constituency;

(b) is not nominated by any registered political party or is not an independent candidate;

(c) is a person holding any office of profit in the service of the Republic or of a statutory public authority;

(d) is a person who is convicted of an offence punishable under Article 73, 74, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84 and 86 and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since the date of his release;

(e) is a person whose election to a seat is declared void on any of the grounds mentioned in sub-clauses (c), (d) and (e) of clause (1) of Article 63, unless a period of five years has elapsed since the date of such declaration;

(f) has resigned or retired from the service of the Republic or of any statutory public authority or of the defence service, unless a period of three years has elapsed since the date of his resignation or retirement;

(g) has been dismissed or removed or compulsorily retired from the service of the Republic or of any statutory public authority on the ground of corruption, unless a period of five years has elapsed since the date of such dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement;

(h) has been appointed on contract to the service of the Republic or of any statutory public authority or of the defence service immediately after his retirement from such service, unless

(7) www.thedailystar.net/forum/2010/November/bangladesh.htm

candidate for more than five constituencies:

A candidate for more than five constituencies cannot stand at a same time. In the election, a person being elected for more than one Constituency, he shall vacate all other seats except one, as per procedure laid down in law.

three hundred single territorial Constituencies:

The purpose of holding election of three hundred Members of Parliament, are geographical compactness of areas, administrative convenience and, as far as practicable, the distribution of population where parliamentary members of the country has been divided into three hundred single territorial Constituencies in accordance with the provision of the Delimitation of Constituencies Ordinance, 1976, as amended. The procedures and principles for delimitation of each constituency are laid down in the aforesaid Ordinance.

Electoral Roll:

Article 121 of the Constitution provides that there will be a one electoral roll for each parliamentary and no special rolls will be made further . Article 122 of the Constitution provides that only adults are eligible for the vote. A person shall be permitted to be enrolled as a voter on the electoral roll for a constituency encircled the purpose of election to Parliament, if he/she –(9)

(a) Bangladeshi citizenship;

(b) 18 or plus years old ;

(c) mentally sound mnded; and

(d) is or is deemed by law to be a resident of that constituency.

The Election Commission to cause the electoral rolls to be re-grouped, if necessary, for the purpose of election to different elective offices For the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls the procedures have been prescribed in the Electoral Rolls Ordinance,1982.(10)

Nomination :

Any member of the electorate of a Constituency may propose or second for election to that constituency, the name of any person qualified to be a member under the Constitution and the Representation of the People order, 1972.(11)

(9)      election commission official website .

(10)  Sub-section (8) of section 7 of the Electoral Rolls Ordinance, 1982

(11) “(3a) Every nomination paper under clause (2) shall be delivered along with the following documents, namely?

(a) in the case of an independent candidate, a list of signatures of one percent electors of the concerned constituency :  Provided that such list need not to be delivered if the independent candidate has previously been elected in any parliamentary election ;

(b) a certificate signed by the chairman or secretary or a person holding the same rank on behalf of the registered political party stating that the candidate has been nominated by that party :  Provided that any registered political party may primarily nominate more than one candidate and if more than one candidate are nominated, the name of one nominated candidate shall be sent to the Returning Officer in writing before the scrutiny of the nomination papers.

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(3b) Every nomination paper under sub-clause (2) shall be delivered along with an affidavit signed by the candidate which shalinclude the following information and particulars, namely?

(a) an attested copy of the certificate of his highest educational qualification ;

(b) whether at present he is accused of any criminal offence or not ;

(c) whether he has any past criminal record, and, if any, the judgement of the case ;

(d) description of his profession or business;

(e) probable sources of his income;

(f) a statement of property or debt of his own or his dependents;

(g) what promises he made before an election in which he was elected as a member in the past, and how many of those promises were fulfilled, and

(h) the amount of loan received by him alone, or jointly or by his dependents from any bank or financial institution, and the amount of loan received by him from any bank or financial institution as a Chairman, Managing Director or Director thereof.”|


A sum of Taka five thousand is deposited in cash or in the Government treasury by the candidate or any person on his/her behalf at the time of giving the nomination paper in the election commission office. In that nomination paper he/she have to enroll or write certain information about the spending information in the election and others important things.

three hundred seats reserved exclusively for women members:

Besides the provision of three hundred seats for members of Parliament, there are 30 seats exclusively reserved for women members up to year 2000 where a law had been made entitled ”The Representation of the People (Seats for Women Members) Order, 1973. According to Article 3 of the Order, the Election Commission divides the country into 30 seats or area for election of women members. The directly elected MPs were the electors for election of women members.(12)

Election to the Office of President :

The members of the Parliament in accordance with law elected the President of Bangladesh. The mode and procedures for holding election to the office of President are laid down in the Presidential Elections Act, 1991 and the Presidential Election Rules, 1991 made there under. The President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. (13)

Local Body Elections:

The local Government in every governmental unit of the Republic shall be hand over to bodies, composed of persons elected in accordance with law. Existing laws and rules leading the conduct of elections to different local bodies empower the Election Commission to conduct the following local level elections :

(12) as per provisions of Clause (3) of Article 65 of the Constitution

(13) Bangladesh election commission official websites according to Article 48 of the Constitution

(a) Union Councils

(b) Upzila Parishads

(c) City Corporations

(d) Municipal Committees

(e) Hill District Councils

Non-party Care-Taker Government:

The elected government at their expiration date they handed over their power to caretaker government for the purpose of  free, fair and credible general elections to Parliament, the Thirteenth Amendment Act, 1996 of the Constitution was made on 28th March, 1996. These caretaker government consists of 10 advisor following Chief adviser as its head where each of them appointed by President. The Chief Adviser is required to be appointed, in the manner stipulated in Article 58C of the Constitution. This care taker government primary concern is to render or help election commission to act independently under a fair government. The main advisor is elected as the last 2years Chief Justices or from the two last retired judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme court. The concept of Care-taker Government is a constitutional device to enable the holding of general parliamentary elections in a fair and impartial manner, free of any party influences on the Government machinery.

Electoral reform in Bangladesh:

In between the care taker government and election the credibility question raise whether it will be a fair election or not. Every time it happens the parties blame each other for not having a fair election. That’s when the people of Bangladesh need to step forward for an electoral reform in Bangladesh. There are some sort of suggestion came out form intellectual or election commission or political parties. The Daily Star and Independence newspaper published on march 02, 2007 about electoral reform. And the things contain five major reforms:

(i)      registration of political parties, (14)

(ii) Submission of candidate’s asset and personal details,

(iii) Severe provisions against loan defaulters

(iv) Reducing a candidate’s opportunity for running simultaneously from 5 to 3 constituencies, and

(v) Barring civil or military bureaucrats from contesting parliamentary elections within three years from retirement. These reforms will be executed by amending the Representation of Public Order, 1972.

(i) & (iii) are important but not enough to address the major concerns and loop points in our electoral laws. Reforms (iv) and (v)  seem contentious. Two-reform proposals to exhibit their irrationality and implications.


90A. For the purpose of this Order, any political party may be registered with the Commission subject to the conditions laid down in Article 90B.

90B. (1) If any political party desires to be registered, it shall?(a) fulfill one of the following conditions, namely?

(i) secured at least one seat with its electoral symbol in any parliamentary election held since the independence of Bangladesh; or

(ii) secured five percent of total votes cast in the constituencies in which its candidates took part in any of the aforesaid parliamentary elections; or

(iii) established a functional central office, by whatever name it may be called with a central committee (as a base for the organizing structure of the party in various administrative level in the country, effective) district offices in at least in one-third administrative districts, offices and at least one hundred Upazilas or Metropolitan Thana having a minimum number of two hundred voters as its members in each of them; and

(b) In addition to comply with the terms and conditions referred to in clause (1), political party, disiring to beregisteredwitht

commission, shall have the following specific provisions in its constitution, namely?

(i) to elect the members of the committees at all levels including members of the central committee ;

(ii) to fix the goal of reserving at least 33% of all committee positions for women including the central committee and successively achieving this goal by the year 2020;

(iii) to prohibit formation of any organization or body as its affiliated or associated body consisting to the teachers or students of any educational institution or the employees or labourers of any financial, commercial or industrial institution or establishment or the members of any other profession :

Provided that nothing shall prevent them from organizing independently in their respective fields or forming association, society, trade union etc. and exercising all democratic and polotical rights, and individual, subject to the provisions of the existing laws, to be a member of any political party.

(iv) to finalize nomination of candidate by central parliamentary board of the party in consideration of panels prepared by members of the Ward, Union, Thana, Upazila or District committee, as the case may be, of concerned constituency.

(2) If an independent member of parliament joins any unregistered political party, the fact of his joining shall not qualify that party for registration with the commission.

90C. (1) A political party shall not be qualified for registration under this Chapter, if?

(a) the objectives laid down in its constitution are contrary to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh ; or

(b) any discrimination regarding religion, race, caste, language or sex is apparent in its constitution ; or

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(c) by name, flag, symbol or any other activity it threatens to destroy communal harmony or lead the country to cessation; or

(d) its constitution reflects the objectives of maintaining and nourishing party-less or one-party system; or

(e) there is any provision in its consititution for the establishment or operation of any office, branch or committee outside the territory of Bangladesh.

(2) No political party shall be registered under a name, under which another political party has already been registered :

Provided that where more than one party apply for registration with the same name and no party has already been registered under such name, the Commission may, after giving the parties reasonable opportunity of being heard, register any of the parties with such name.

(3) Commission shall not register any political party banned by the Government.

90D. Any political party complying with the conditions laid down in Article 90A, Article 90B and not disqualified under Article 90C may apply for registration in the prescribed manner under the signature of its Chairman and General Secretary or any other person holding the equivalent rank :

Provided that the Commission may allow any political party to apply for registration which has a provisional consititution containing provisions as specified under sub-clauses (b)(i), (b)(ii), (b)(iii) and (b)(iv) of clauses (1) of Article 90B as well as complying with the provisions under Article 90C along with a resolution of the highest policy-making body of the party, by whatever name it may be called, to the effect that the party shall submit a ratified consititution within six months from the date of first sitting of ninth parliament.

90E. (1) The Commission shall, after taking a decision to register a political party, issue a registration certificate in the prescribed form and shall publish it in the Official Gazett


Electoral reform in Bangladesh is one of the desired expectations of its citizens. As a result they want to make the election commission freedom and constitutionally free to work and held the election within their own law and provision. No political parties can influence their right to manipulate the result of the election. That’s when different kinds of political crisis arise into our country. As a process we came across the hard time of 9/11 because of lack of law and proper implementation of law.


1.      Joseph L. Klesner, Kenyon College, Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., 28-31 August 1997

2.      Stephen D. Morris, Political Reformism in Mexico: An Overview of Contemporary Mexican Politics (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1995), p. 69.

3.       Gonzalez, Gustavo. 2001. “Politics-Chile: Women Notably Absent from Parliamentary Ballots.” Interpress Service, November 21.

4.       Kapur, Vatsala. 1998. “Women’s Contribution to the Democratization of Mexican Politics: An Exploration of Their Formal Participation in the National Action Party and the Party of the Democratic Revolutioni.” Mexican Studies 14, no. 2: 363-388.

5.       http://www.ecs.gov.bd/Bangla/

6.      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Bangladesh

7.      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_Election_Commission

8.      http://www.jcpa.org/dje/articles2/electref.htm

9.      http://www.federalism.ch/files/categories/IRCC/fall2005_review_south_asia.pdf