Real World Challenges
Edited by Tina Søreide and Aled Williams
Chapter 11: Pay up and off you go!' Buying political positions in Bangladesh
ëYou can now buy yourself an MP nomination the same way as you buy an air ticket to Singapore: pay up and off you go!í This statement by a Member of Parliament of Bangladesh illustrates a pertinent predicament in current Bangladeshi politics; public positions are up for sale. The expression came in an in-depth interview with an opposition Member of Parliament (MP) of the Jatiya Sangsad (House of the Nation). We were a group of researchers making inquiries for a study on accountability and representation of the parliament1 when the phrase came up in informal discussions on the roles of MPs in Bangladesh.That individuals can ëbuyí parliamentary positions is also described in a study by International IDEA: ëThe main sources of income for parties [in South Asia] are donations by companies and individuals, and membership fees. Money raised by an application fee from aspiring candidates for party tickets [can] be substantial during an election year. The Bangladesh Awami League reported most of its income by this method. In the 2001 elections it could gather a substantial sum of 24 million BDT (around 430†000 USD)í (International IDEA, 2007: 101ñ102 and footnote 23). In other words, the ruling Awami League, along with some other parties, has now developed a practice of receiving applications from aspiring candidates. The applications are scrutinized by a core group of leaders of various party organs, but the party president makes the final nominations (Amundsen, 2013).
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