1991 Bangladeshi general election

General elections were held in Bangladesh on 27 February 1991. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) emerged as the largest party in parliament, winning 140 of the 300 directly-elected seats. The BNP formed a government with the support of the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, and on 20 March Khaleda Zia was sworn in for her first term as Prime Minister.[1]

1991 Bangladeshi general election

← 1988 27 February 1991 February 1996 →

All 300 seats in the Jatiya Sangsad
151 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  Begum Zia Book-opening Ceremony, 1 Mar, 2010.jpg Sheikh Hasina 2009 cropped 3by2.jpg Hussain Muhammad Ershad.jpg
Leader Khaleda Zia Sheikh Hasina H.M. Ershad
Party BNP Awami League JP(E)
Last election Boycotted Boycotted 251 seats
Seats won 140 88 35
Popular vote 10,507,549 10,259,866 4,063,537
Percentage 30.81% 30.08% 11.92%

Prime Minister before election

Kazi Zafar Ahmed

Subsequent Prime Minister

Khaleda Zia

The elections were described to be free and fair by many international observers, and it played a major role in solidifying Bangladeshi democracy in aftermath of the anti-government protests in late 1980s. Voter turnout was 55.4%.[2][3]


In 1990 a popular mass uprising led by future Prime Ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina deposed the former Army Chief Hussain Muhammad Ershad from the Presidency in December.[4] Ershad had assumed the Presidency in 1983[5] following a coup d'état in 1982.

The previous parliamentary elections had been held in 1988 and saw Ershad's Jatiya Party win 251 of the 300 seats.[2] However, the elections had been boycotted by all major opposition parties and were described by one Western diplomat as "a mockery of an election".[6] On 6 December 1990, the day of Ershad's resignation, parliament was dissolved[7][4] and new elections were scheduled for 2 March 1991, but subsequently advanced to 27 February, with all major political parties participating.

Electoral systemEdit

The 330 members of the Jatiya Sangsad consisted of 300 directly elected seats using first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies,[8] and an additional 30 seats reserved for women. The reserved seats are distributed based on the proportional vote share of the contesting parties.[9] Each parliament sits for a five-year term.


The elections saw the BNP win 140 seats, 11 short of a parliamentary majority. The BNP's primary rivals, the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, won only 88 seats. However, there was little difference between the two main parties in terms of the popular vote share, with BNP only receiving around 250,000 votes more than the Awami League.[2]

Of the directly elected 300 seats, only four were won by female candidates.[1][10] Following the elections, the BNP won 28 of the 30 reserved seats for women.[1]

Bangladesh Nationalist Party10,507,54930.81140New
Awami League10,259,86630.0888New
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami4,136,66112.1318New
Jatiya Party4,063,53711.9235–216
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League616,0141.815New
Zaker Party417,7371.220New
Communist Party of Bangladesh407,5151.195New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab)269,4510.790New
Islami Oikya Jote269,4340.791New
National Awami Party (Muzaffar)259,9780.761New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu)171,0110.500New
Ganatantri Party152,5290.451New
National Democratic Party121,9180.361New
Bangladesh Janata Dal120,7290.350New
United Communist League of Bangladesh110,5170.320New
Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan93,0490.2700
Bangladesh Freedom Party90,7810.270–2
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Siraj)84,2760.251–2
Bangladesh Muslim League (Ainuddin)66,5650.200New
Workers Party of Bangladesh63,4340.191New
Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (Khaliquzzaman)34,8680.100New
Bangladesh Muslim League (Kader)32,6930.100New
Janata Mukti Party30,9620.090New
Jatiya Ganotantrik Party24,7610.070New
Bangladesh Inquilab Party24,3100.070New
Jatiya Oikkya Front21,6240.060New
Jatiya Janata Party–Ganatantrik Oikkya Jote20,5680.060New
Jomiyatay Wulamayya Islami Party15,0730.040New
Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (Mahbub)13,4130.040New
Bangladesh Hindu League11,9410.040New
Bangladesh Samyabadi Dal (Marxist-Leninist)11,2750.030New
Oikkya Prakriyya11,0740.030New
Bangladesh Muslim League (Matin)11,0730.030New
National Awami Party (Bhashani)9,1290.030New
Pragotishil Jatiyatabadi Dal6,6770.020New
Sramik Krishak Samajbadi Dal6,3960.020New
Jatiya Biplobi Front3,6710.010New
Pragotishil Ganatantrik Sakt3,5980.010New
Jatiya Janata Party (Ashraf)3,1870.010New
Bangladesh Jatiya Tanti Dal3,1150.010New
Bangladesh Muslim League (Yusuf)2,7570.010New
Jatiya Jukta Front2,6680.010New
Jatiya Janata Party (Asad)1,5700.000New
Bangladesh National Congress1,4210.000New
Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Chhashi Dal1,3170.000New
Gano Azadi League (Samad)1,3140.000New
Janasakti Party1,2630.000New
Bangladesh Nezam-e-Islam Party1,2360.000New
Islamic Samajtantrik Dal Bangladesh1,0390.000New
Bangladesh Freedom League1,0340.000New
Peoples Democratic Party8790.000New
Bangladesh People's League (Goariobi Newaz)7420.000New
Jatiya Mukti Dal7230.000New
Bangladesh Jana Parishad6860.000New
Muslim Peoples Party5150.000New
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Mukti Andolan5030.000New
Bangladesh National Hindu Party5020.000New
Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Dal4960.000New
Democratic League4530.000New
Humanitarian organization for the prevention of smoking and drug abuse (JIFSA)4530.000New
Jatiya Tarun Sangha4170.000New
Bangladesh Labour Party3180.000New
Bangladesh Manobatabadi Dal2940.000New
Ideal Party2510.000New
National Awami Party (Sadequr Rahman)2480.000New
Bangladesh Khilafat Party2410.000New
Bangladesh Islamic Biplobi Parishad2140.000New
Bangladesh Islamic Front2020.000New
Bangladesh Bekar Samaj1820.000New
Bangladesh Adarsha Krishak Dal1540.000New
Bangladesh Islamic Revolutionary Party1380.000New
Bangladesh Bekar Party390.000New
Jatiya Sramajibi Party280.000New
National Awami Party (Nur Mohammad Kazi)270.000New
Bangladesh Jatiya People's Party250.000New
Valid votes34,103,77798.92
Invalid/blank votes374,0261.08
Total votes34,477,803100.00
Registered voters/turnout62,181,74355.45
Source: Nohlen et al., Bangladesh Election Commission


In September 1991 a constitutional referendum was held, which sought the transfer of executive powers from the President to the Prime Minister, making the presidency largely a ceremonial role. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the constitutional amendments and the country returned to being a parliamentary democracy in line with its founding constitution.


  1. ^ a b c "BANGLADESH: parliamentary elections Jatiya Sangsad, 1991". Inter-Parliamentary Union. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Dieter Nohlen; Florian Grotz; Christof Hartmann (2001). Elections in Asia: A data handbook. Vol. I. p. 537. ISBN 0-19-924958-X.
  3. ^ Bangladesh Election Commission (1991). "Report on election activities: Jatiya Sangsad Elections, 1991 (in Bengali)" (PDF). Government Printing Press. Retrieved 29 May 2022.
  4. ^ a b "WORLD: Ershad Resigns in Bangladesh". Los Angeles Times. 6 December 1990.
  5. ^ "Bangladesh Leader in Military Regime Assumes Presidency". The New York Times. 12 December 1983.
  6. ^ "Ruling Party Is Declared the Winner in Bangladesh". The New York Times. 6 March 1988.
  7. ^ "Tenure of All Parliaments". Parliament of Bangladesh. 30 December 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  8. ^ Electoral system Inter-Parliamentary Union
  9. ^ Nizam Ahmed and Sadik Hasan Alangkar or Ahangkar? Reserved-Seat Women Members in the Bangladesh Parliament Archived 2020-10-27 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Kumar Panday, Pranab (1 September 2008). "Representation without Participation: Quotas for Women in Bangladesh". International Political Science Review. 29 (4): 489–512. doi:10.1177/0192512108095724.