1991 Bangladeshi general election

The Fifth National Parliamentary Elections 1991 (Bengali: পঞ্চম জাতীয় সংসদ নির্বাচন ১৯৯১) were held in Bangladesh on 27 February 1991. The result was a victory for the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which won 140 of the 300 seats. Voter turnout was 55.4%.[1] As a result, BNP leader Khaleda Zia was sworn in as Prime Minister on 20 March.

1991 Bangladeshi general election

← 1988 February 27, 1991 (1991-02-27) 1996 →

All 300 seats in the Jatiya Sangsad
151 seats were 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 Hussain Muhammad Ershad
Party BNP Awami League Jatiya Party (E)
Leader since 1984 1981 1986
Leader's seat Feni-1 Gopalganj-3 Rangpur-3
Last election boycotted boycotted 251 seats
Seats won 140 88 35
Seat change Decrease216
Popular vote 10,507,549 10,259,866 4,063,537
Percentage 30.8% 30.1% 11.9%

Prime Minister before election

Kazi Zafar Ahmed
Jatiya Party (E)

Subsequent Prime Minister

Khaleda Zia

Electoral SystemEdit

In 1991, the 330 members of the Jatiya Sangsad consisted of 300 directly elected seats using first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies,[2] and an additional 30 seats reserved for women. The reserved seats are distributed based on the proportional vote share of the contesting parties.[3] Each parliament sits for a five-year term.


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.[1] 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.


The elections saw the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Khaleda Zia, win the most seats with 140 of 300; 11 seats short of a parliamentary majority. BNP's primary rivals, the Bangladesh 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 winning a majority of only ~250,000 votes, or 0.7% of the vote share.[1]

BNP went on to form 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.[8]

Percentage of the seats won

  Bangladesh Nationalist Party (46.7%)
  Awami League (29.3%)
  Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (6%)
  Jatiya Party (11.7%)
  All other parties & Independents (6.3%)

Popular vote share

  Bangladesh Nationalist Party (30.8%)
  Awami League (30.1%)
  Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (12.1%)
  Jatiya Party (11.9%)
  All other parties & Independents (15.1%)
Party Votes % Seats +/–
Bangladesh Nationalist Party 10,507,549 30.8 140 New
Bangladesh Awami League 10,259,866 30.1 88 New
Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh 4,136,461 12.1 18 New
Jatiya Party 4,063,537 11.9 35 –216
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League 616,014 1.8 5 New
Communist Party of Bangladesh 407,515 1.2 5 New
Islami Oikkya Jote 269,434 0.8 1 New
National Awami Party (Muzaffar) 259,978 0.8 1 New
Ganatantri Party 152,529 0.4 1 New
National Democratic Party 121,918 0.4 1 New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Siraj) 84,276 0.2 1 –2
Workers Party of Bangladesh 63,434 0.2 1 New
63 other parties 1,663,834 4.9 0
Independents 1,497,369 4.4 3 –22
Invalid/blank votes 374,026
Total 34,477,803 100 300 0
Source: Nohlen et al.

Female RepresentationEdit

Of the directly elected 300 seats, only four were won by female candidates.[8][9] However, at the time the Jatiya Sangsad contained an additional 30 seats reserved for women. The reserved seats are distributed based on the proportional vote share of the contesting parties.[9] Of the 30 reserved seats, 28 of the reserved seats were awarded to BNP.[8]


In September 1991 a constitutional referendum was held, which sought the transfer of executive powers from the President, which had been held by the Office since 1975, to the Prime Minister, making the President largely a ceremonial role. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the Constitutional amendment and Bangladesh was restored to a Parliamentary democracy, as per its founding constitution.


  1. ^ a b c Dieter Nohlen; Florian Grotz; Christof Hartmann (2001). Elections in Asia: A data handbook. Volume I. p. 537. ISBN 0-19-924958-X.
  2. ^ Electoral system IPU
  3. ^ Nizam Ahmed and Sadik Hasan Alangkar or Ahangkar? Reserved-Seat Women Members in the Bangladesh Parliament
  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. ^ a b c "BANGLADESH: parliamentary elections Jatiya Sangsad, 1991". archive.ipu.org. Inter-Parliamentary Union. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  9. ^ a b 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.