From Facebook status writers to TV talking heads via op ed columnists, everyone is talking about the BNP chief’s speech. Unsurprisingly, the BNP supporters are positive about it, while AL-ers find the speech not-so-positive, focussing on the number of former caretaker government advisors still alive in good health and with interest to serve in a potential new caretaker government.
All that minutiae discussion completely misses the forest for the trees. The best take on Mrs Zia’s speech that I have come across is David Bergman’s. His title sums it up —Smart with an eye on the international community.
“Had it not been for the protests, now we would all be focusing on next year’s elections and looking at the government’s record in office and the opposition’s pledges,” said Zafar Sobhan, editor of the Dhaka Tribune, an English daily. “Now, all bets are off and elections seem a distant concern. It is hard to see how things will revert to politics as usual after this.”
That’s from Syed Zain-Al-Mahmood’s excellent Guardian report on Shahbag. That was February. Now it’s October. The protesters are long gone. And everyone’s focusing on the elections —when will they happen, how they will happen, will they really happen, who will win if they do happen, how big the margin will be.
Zafar was hardly the only one who thought that way about politics as usual. Across the ideological and political spectrum, there was a general agreement that politics-as-usual would end in the spring and summer of 2013 —the debate really was about what would replace it. Well, in the autumn of 2013, politics-as-usual is back with vengeance. And this post is all about politics-as-usual.
I have nothing to say about the when and how or whether of the coming election. Instead, let me focus on what the polls imply about the results of a hypothetical election held this winter. Some simple calculations – details over the fold – suggest that such an election will likely result in an unprecedented BNP landslide.