The origins of electoral symbols

Within the Sixties, archaeologists made a exceptional discovery in a landfill in Athens. They discovered a heap of about 8,500 ballots, doubtless from a vote tallied in 471 BC. Manufactured from terracotta, the ballots or ‘Ostraca’ had names written on them. Every shard was scrawled with the identify of a candidate the voter needed to see exiled from the town for the subsequent 10 years.

From about 487-416 BC, ostracism or “adverse voting” was a course of by which Athenian residents – male landowners – may vote to banish a political chief or ‘candidate’ with out a trial. If any ‘candidate’ obtained greater than 6,000 votes, then the one with the biggest quantity was exiled. 

If no politician obtained 6,000 votes, then all of them remained. If there was a reasonably even unfold of votes, nobody could be exiled, so normally solely very unpopular political leaders have been ostracised.

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This was in all probability the very first election system developed because the start of civilization. Within the modern world although, consultant governments emerged in Europe and North America starting within the seventeenth century.

Nevertheless it was within the 1820s when the electoral symbols gained recognition and significance within the US. The Democrats first used the donkey as their consultant image in the course of the presidential marketing campaign of Andrew Jackson. Quickly, electoral symbols turned an indispensable a part of common elections around the globe. 

Normal elections have been first held in British India in 1920 to elect members to the Imperial Legislative Council and the Provincial Councils. After the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the primary main election was in 1954 the place Jukta Entrance, a five-party alliance, contested the Muslim League within the East Bengal Legislative Meeting election with the boat image. The primary common elections have been held in newly unbiased Bangladesh on 7 March 1973.

In his ebook ‘Pakistaner Jonmo Mrittyu Darshan’, Professor Jatin Sarker talked about how the agricultural individuals of agrarian Bengal remembered the image or ‘marka’ moderately than the candidate within the Fifties. For them, the pictorial image was actually vital.

However are they nonetheless that essential?

Mujahidul Islam Selim, former president of the Communist Occasion of Bangladesh, believes that electoral symbols usually are not that essential these days as a result of the political tradition has advanced.

The image of the Communist Occasion of Bangladesh is a hammer and sickle.

“However the election fee didn’t allow us to use two symbols for the election, so we’ve got been utilizing the sickle image solely,” he defined.

Former election commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain believes that the principle cause behind utilizing an electoral image is to establish which political occasion a candidate represents and in order that occasion supporters recognise the candidate simply.

“The tradition of utilizing symbols to establish political events is a world one,” he added.

Most often, occasion loyalists forged their votes seeing the symbols – they don’t care concerning the candidate as a lot.

Who allots the symbols?

Article 9 of the Election Conduct Regulation 2008 of Bangladesh mentions 140 symbols {that a} political occasion can select from. In 2017 the article was revised and the variety of symbols was introduced all the way down to 64.

Apart from common symbols like boat, paddy sheaf, plough, lantern and hand fan, there are uncommon ones too, corresponding to animals, fruits, greens, and even automobiles.

In accordance with the regulation, an unbiased candidate can select from these symbols, if that image is obtainable. And if multiple candidate asks for an emblem, the election fee conducts a lottery after which allots it to the winner.

Boat, paddy sheaf and plough: The favored symbols

The story of the Awami League’s boat image dates again to the formation of the Jukta Entrance within the lead-up to the East Bengal Legislative Meeting election in 1954.

Apparently, the Jukta Entrance alliance reportedly needed to take part within the East Bengal Legislative Meeting election in 1954 with the plough image. Nevertheless, the Pakistan Election Fee didn’t enable the Jukta Entrance to make use of the plough image because it was the image of AK Fazlul Huq’s Krishak Praja Occasion within the undivided Bengal.

After the dissolution of the Jukta Entrance, Awami Muslim League utilized to the Pakistani Election Fee for the boat image as a majority of the candidates of the Awami Muslim League gained seats within the election.

In 1957, the Awami Muslim League dropped the phrase ‘Muslim’ from the occasion identify and renamed it Awami League. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman-led Awami League contested the overall election in 1970 with the boat image and gained a complete of 160 seats. From then on, Awami League has nonetheless been taking part in elections beneath this image.

M Sakhawat Hossain stated that the Awami League selected the boat image as a result of Bangladesh is a riverine nation and boats are the one reliable transportation.

He added that as rice or paddy is the principle supply of sustenance in Bangladesh, the sheaf of paddy was additionally a pure selection for political events.

Earlier than the Bangladesh Nationalist Occasion (BNP), the sheaf of paddy was first used as an election image by the Maulana Bhashani-led Nationwide Awami Occasion (NAP) after the institution of Pakistan. Within the 1973 election, NAP additionally contested the election beneath this image.

Then in 1978, individuals from a breakaway faction of NAP joined arms to kind the BNP, and took the sheaf of paddy image with them. The breakaway group was led by Mashiur Rahman Jodu Miah.

So, within the parliamentary election in 1979, the occasion contested with this image. From then on, it has grow to be the image of BNP.

Ataur Rahman Khan-led Nationwide League contested the overall election in 1970 with the plough image. Later, in the course of the rule of President Hussain Muhammad Ershad, Ataur Rahman Khan was made prime minister. Later, Ershad took the plough image for his Jatiya Occasion.

Giving start to idioms

Within the 1954 election of the East Bengal Legislative Meeting, there have been three symbols assigned to the events – lantern or ‘hariken’ to the Muslim League, boat to the Jukta Entrance, and umbrella to the impartial events.

In that election, the opposition Jukta Entrance gained a landslide victory with 223 of the 309 seats. The Muslim League Chief Minister of East Pakistan Nurul Amin was defeated in his personal constituency by Khaleque Nawaz Khan by over 7,000 votes, with all of the Muslim League ministers dropping their seats.

That’s when this idiom obtained common ‘haate hariken dhoriye deoya’, which loosely interprets to ‘hand them over their lantern’. It indicated that the Jukta Entrance defeated the Muslim League so badly that they have been handed the lanterns to stroll away with.

Elephant vs donkey: A 150-year-old rivalry

The most effective instance of the facility of electoral symbols might be discovered within the US, the place using the donkey and the elephant in the course of the presidential elections is a theme that has been operating for over 150 years.

The Democrats have been first to make use of the donkey as their consultant image in 1828, in the course of the presidential marketing campaign of Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson, a preferred warfare hero, ran his election marketing campaign beneath the slogan “Let the Folks Rule”. His opponents nicknamed him “jackass” because of his populist views and cussed nature. So extra entertained than provoked, he used the donkey on his posters.

It was 40 years later in 1870, when Thomas Nast first used a donkey in a cartoon for Harper’s Weekly, titled “A Stay Jackass Kicking a Useless Lion”, that the image really turned embedded within the American consciousness as synonymous with the Democratic occasion.

The Democratic donkey represents laborious work, diligence, humbleness and a dedication to the US. Nevertheless, Republicans strongly disagree and think about the donkey an emblem of stubbornness.

The elephant had already been featured as a Republican image by an Illinois newspaper throughout Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 election marketing campaign. After which, Nast used the elephant to characterize the Republican vote within the by-election of 1874.

Nast’s drawing titled “The Third-Time period Panic” mocked the New York Herald, a paper that had been important of Nast’s shut buddy President Ulysses S Grant. On the time, Grant had already been president for practically two phrases and it was rumoured that he was considering a run for a 3rd (the twenty second modification, which put in time period limits on the presidency, wouldn’t be in place till 1951).

The Republican elephant represents intelligence, dignity and is taken into account because the image of power. In distinction to this, the Democrats see the elephant as corresponding to a circus animal.

By 1880, different political cartoonists adopted go well with and each the donkey and elephant turned broadly used and have been firmly entrenched because the accepted symbols of the 2 events.

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