Bangladesh will no longer have a constitutional provision under which the incumbent government yields to a caretaker administration of technocrats prior to an election.
The 345-member legislature passed the amendment by 291 to one, in a vote boycotted by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
Last month the Supreme Court ruled that the system of interim administrations was unconstitutional.
The Bangladesh provision has been in place since the mid 1990s. I am not aware of other democracies with such a provision. Predictably, the opposition is claiming that the constitutional change is a move by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to rig the election due in 2013.
Bangladesh is striking for how big its swings are. For instance, in 2008, the incumbent party lost 167 seats (out of 300 total). The scale of the swing in seats is a result of the use of FPTP; in votes the swing was 9.5 percentage points against the incumbent party. Notwithstanding the use of a “majoritarian” electoral system, without many relatively close districts seeing vote shifts in the same direction, the seat swing could not be so massive. Some earlier elections also had seen similarly large swings. I wonder if the caretaker provisions have had anything to do with the unusual scale of Bangladesh’s incumbency disadvantage in the past. If so, the opposition charges against this constitutional change may have merit.