I’m sharing findings of a study titled ‘Election under a Caretaker Government’ (2004, UPL, Dhaka) by a Dhaka University teacher Dr. Waresul Karim. This is probably the only of its kind the empirical study that analyzed election results of 1991, 1996 and 2001.
In making empirical analysis of the 2001 election, it used simple comparative analysis of votes received and seats won by the parties and also adopted statistical univariate and multivariate analyses, including 10 scenario analyses, rebel factor analysis, analysis of unusual movement of votes and multivariate analysis of party performance. It also contains conventional election analyses of margins, vote shares, seat-to-vote ratios, swings, hold-gain-loss etc.
The 478-page book has an eight-page conclusion. I’m sharing the key findings of the study that particularly looked into the October 2001 election:
1. The two most significant factors explaining the number of seats won by the two major parties are perceived terrorism and alliance arithmetic.
2. The Awami League emerged as the single largest party in the country by all standards, except in terms of number of seats in the parliament.
3. The AL victory margins in significant number of constituencies in both the 1991 and the 1996 elections were within the reach of an anti-AL alliance involving BNP and Jamaat alone. In other words, AL’s success in 1996 and 1991 elections were attributable more to its success in splitting anti-AL votes than in increasing its own vote share.
4. The anti-AL voters tend to cast their votes tactically, choosing the most electable anti-AL candidate regardless of the party affiliation of the candidate concerned.
5. The 4-part alliance in general and BNP in particular are more vulnerable to rebel or significant independent candidates than in the AL.
6. Constituencies experiencing higher increases in number of registered voters showed lower turn out and vice versa suggesting possible irregularities in preparations of voters’ list (this is unlikely this time)
7. Most of the decrease in JP share of votes contributed to increases in 4-party share of votes.
8. The alliance worked in high degree of effectiveness. Even votes commanded by anti-AL parties outside the alliance were attracted to the alliance.
9. Logical explanations could not be found to unusual increases and decreases in vote shares in most of the constituencies.
Interested readers may search for this book at UPL and other bookstalls.