British parliament and anti-floor-crossing provision in Bangladesh
Oli Md. Abdullah Chowdhury
In Bangladesh, MPs virtually can't go against their party decision even if they intend to do so. Although it is meant to ensure loyalty to the party under which banner they elected for, it has resulted in party autocracy. It is, nonetheless, true in case of our two major political parties as they have little democratic practice within the parties themselves. On earlier occasions, a number of MPs lost their membership as they cast their vote against party decision while voting took place within parliament.
On the other hand, MPs in England have overpowered Blair's effort to narrow civil liberty on November 9, 2005. Civil liberty groups and minority communities particularly Muslims were sceptic about the law as it would allow police to exercise wider power. Even though there had been call for restrain from his own party, Blairs seemed very obstinate. Even, he called two (2) of his cabinet colleagues from their foreign visit in order to cast their vote in favour of the propose bill.
It is not the opposition that defeated Blair. It is his own party men who cast vote against Blair. Thus, backbenchers sang the song of British Parliamentary democracy. Members of the British Parliament are at full liberty to decide their own mind regarding any motion tabled in the Parliament while it is not possible in Bangladesh due to constitutional obligation of MPs.
Therefore, MPs should have the liberty to cast their vote in parliamentary democracy. It could direct party leadership into right direction even. Politicians in Bangladesh might take lesson from the British example. They could think of amending Article 70 of the constitution of Bangladesh that prohibits floor crossing in the parliament.
The author is a legal researcher and human rights activists, at present working for light house project in London, UK