Essay: Electoral Corruption in Bangladesh

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This is an essay on electoral corruption in Bangladesh. Corruption is an age-old problem, but only recently has it started attracting the global attention of policy makers and development practitioners.

Introduction

Corruption is an age-old problem, but only recently has it started attracting the global attention of policy makers and development practitioners. Since there is no universally accepted indicator that measures corrupt practices, it is less clear how adequately empirical models can capture corruption. While there is no agreement in the literature on how to define the phenomenon of corruption, one thing is clear: corruption is a governance problem. Corruption is a result of weak state management and exists when individuals or organizations have monopoly power over a good or service, discretion over making decisions, limited or no accountability, and low levels of income.

The frequently cited World B-ank definition of corruption, used in this paper, is the abuse of public office for private gain. This does not necessarily mean that corruption exists only in the public sector.

Rather that corruption in the public sector is more important for the purposes of public policy in developing economies and the public sector should take the lead in establishing high standards of integrity and accountability.

Corruption or rent seeking is basically an institutional failure caused by market and/or policy inadequacy and it need not exist in government institutions alone and recent reports and studies have indicated its presence in private and NGO sector as they gain control and authority over resources in an imperfect system. The traditional view is that consumer sovereignty and presence of free entry or exit option will correct aberration from such conditions; the exit option by non-economic considerations is the modality for the government sector, but this is mostly constrained and voice as a solution is effective only in a democratic polity where transparency and accountability have become part of political and administrative culture. In an underdeveloped democratic polity even that option may not exist. In our deliberations the focus is primarily on the government and we shall adopt a narrow definition even though wider definition has been used in the literature on corruption.

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