Ruling party Awami League has been preparing for the eleventh national elections to be held at the end of this year. And the ‘development model’ was considered as the main voting factor in that election campaign strategy. However, the position of many countries has taken a new discourse over the period of time. Various surveys and studies are showing that five factors have emerged as the biggest voting factors for the upcoming elections, rather than the ‘development model’. And these factors are expected to play a significant role in attracting the voters in favor of the political parties.
Now all the parties have started to work ahead of the 11th parliamentary elections of the country. Awami League (AL) has also started anew coming out from the previous plan and keeping the five factors in mind. The main voting factors that are being considered to play a determining role include:
1. The young voters will be the biggest factor of the eleventh parliamentary elections. Voters aged between 18 to 25 years are considered to have a big impact on the election results. At one point of time, most of the young voters were inclined to Awami League. But now such situation seems to have changed. Realizing this, Awami League has taken initiatives to persuade the young voters. A specialized team comprising IT experts has been formulated with a specific view to attracting the young voters to AL through the means of social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
2. The quota issue will also have a big impact on the upcoming elections. Since the beginning of this year students have been very active with the quota reform movement. Many activities related with the quota reform are still ongoing. In addition to the students and the job seekers, a large portion of the educated class of the country has support with this issue. After all, the number of the voters interested in the quota reform is not low. And considering this, it is very likely that all the political parties of the country will include the quota reform issue in their election manifestos. And the positions of the political parties in this regard will decide where the votes of this group go.
3. Recently, school students protested demanding safe roads across the country including the capital Dhaka. Along with the students this movement has also influenced many ordinary people. Though the safe roads movement has ended, people from all walks of life still have interest in it. Therefore, people now have become interested to know about the steps the political parties will take when they come to power. Hence, it is clear that promise of the political parties regarding the road safety plans will have a great impact on the election results. And likewise, the political parties are considering the safe road plans for their election campaigns.
4. Businessmen will also be one of the factors of the next elections. Business friendly policies, bank interest rates etc. will have great impact on the elections. The government has delayed the implementation of online VAT system thinking of the traders. The decision of dragging the bank interest rates within one digit is just about to be implemented. Other political parties are also designing different strategies to attract the businessmen.
5. Last but not the least, the position against corruption will be a crucial factor. People are now aware of corruption. People consider this as a major obstacle to the development of the country. The Awami League led government has always been strict as to corruption. And the draft manifesto of AL for the eleventh national elections included the party’s position against corruption. It has been said that Awami League would declare war against corruption when it comes to power again. At the same time, the position of the other political parties regarding anti-corruption will leave great impact on the upcoming elections. However, BNP has some discomfort over addressing this issue. It is because BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia has been sentenced for five years in jail after being convicted in a corruption case. Again, the party’s acting chairman Tarique Zia is very ‘famous’ as the son of corruption. BNP as a political party has allowed any corruption-convicted person to hold party’s leadership positions. Moreover, there are examples that BNP has legalized the corrupt persons by giving leadership positions in the party. Therefore, the logical question arises, how will the political party indulging in corruption talk about anti-corruption?
Apart from the aforementioned factors, international diplomacy will also be an important factor for the 11th parliamentary elections of the country. India’s approach to the political parties will shape the bilateral relations of these two countries. And this will reflect the India`s role in the elections. Likewise, the government`s relationship with the United States and China will determine its impact on the country.
According to analysts, India plays the biggest role in the politics of Bangladesh. And in such diplomatic position, the current ruling government is in a favorable position. This government has reduced the apprehension of militant attacks in the Indian territory curbing the separatists in the country’s border areas with India. That is why India has expressed its gratefulness to the government many times. But BNP has not yet made any commitment directly to curb militancy in any of its election manifestos. But this time BNP may make a commitment on this. Because, in the last few months, BNP has held a few rounds of meetings with the policymakers of India. The reflection of those meetings is expected to be seen in the BNP`s manifesto for the next elections.
Besides, analysts think Awami League should have to clear its position to normalize the recent escalated tension with the US. Besides, the European Union is very active on the question of human rights. AL should come up with specific plans in this regard as well.
The political party that can prepare the election manifesto considering the above voting factors will be able to attract the maximum number of voters in the next elections. It would soon be clear how much the election manifestos of the political parties can touch upon them. The election manifestos of the political parties may be announced before or after the announcement of the election schedule.