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

All 300 seats in the Jatiya Sangsad
151 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout55.4% Increase 2.9
  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 JP(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

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]


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.[3] Ershad had assumed the Presidency in 1983 [4] 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".[5] On 6 December 1990, the day of Ershad's resignation, parliament was dissolved [6][3] 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,[7] and an additional 30 seats reserved for women. The reserved seats are distributed based on the proportional vote share of the contesting parties.[8] 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][9] Following the elections, the BNP won 28 of the 30 reserved seats for women.[1]

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
Bangladesh Adarsha Krishak Dal 1,663,834 4.9 0 New
Bangladesh Bekar Party 0 New
Bangladesh Bekar Samaj 0 New
Bangladesh Freedom League 0 New
Bangladesh Hindu League 0 New
Bangladesh Islamic Biplobi Parishad 0 New
Bangladesh Islami Front 0 New
Bangladesh Inquilab Party 0 New
Bangladesh Islamic Rajnaitik Party 0 New
Bangladesh Janata Dal 0 New
Bangladesh Jana Parishad 0 New
Bangladesh Jatiya People's Party 0 New
Bangladesh Jatiya Tanti Dal 0 New
Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan 0 0
Bangladesh Khilafat Party 0 New
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Mukti Andolan 0 New
Bangladesh Labor Party 0 New
Bangladesh Manobatabadi Dal 0 New
Bangladesh Muslim League (Ainuddin) 0 New
Bangladesh Muslim League (Kader) 0 New
Bangladesh Muslim League (Matin) 0 New
Bangladesh Muslim League (Yusuf) 0 New
Bangladesh National Congress 0 New
Bangladesh National Hindu Party 0 New
Bangladesh Nezam-e-Islam Party 0 New
Bangladesh People's League (Goariobi Newaz) 0 New
Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (Khaliquzzaman) 0 New
Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (Mahbub) 0 New
Bangladesh Samyabadi Dal (Marxist-Leninist) 0 New
Democratic League 0 New
Freedom Party 0 –2
Gano Azadi League (Samad) 0 New
Ideal Party 0 New
Islamic Samajtantrik Dal Bangladesh 0 New
Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Dal 0 New
Jatiya Biplobi Front 0 New
Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Chhashi Dal 0 New
Jatiya Ganatantrik Front 0 New
Jatiya Ganatantrik Party 0 New
Jatiya Jukta Front 0 New
Jatiya Janata Party (Asad) 0 New
Jatiya Janata Party (Ashraf) 0 New
Jatiya Janata Party–Ganatantrik Oikkya Jote 0 New
Jatiya Mukti Dal 0 New
Janata Mukti Party 0 New
Jatiya Oikkya Front 0 New
Janasakti Party 0 New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu) 0 New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab) 0 New
Jatiya Sramajibi Party 0 New
Jatiya Tarun Sangha 0 New
Jomiyatay Wulamayya Islami Party 0 New
Muslim Peoples Party 0 New
National Awami Party (Bhashani) 0 New
National Awami Party (Nur Mohammad Kazi) 0 New
National Awami Party (Sadequr Rahman) 0 New
Oikkya Prakriyya 0 New
Peoples Democratic Party 0 New
Pragotishil Jatiyatabadi Dal 0 New
Pragotishil Ganatantrik Sakt 0 New
Sramik Krishak Samajbadi Dal 0 New
United Communist League 0 New
Zaker Party 0 New
Independents 1,497,369 4.4 3 –22
Invalid/blank votes 374,026
Total 34,477,803 100 300 0
Registered voters/turnout 62,181,743 55.4
Source: Nohlen et al.


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. Volume I. p. 537. ISBN 0-19-924958-X. |volume= has extra text (help)
  3. ^ a b "WORLD: Ershad Resigns in Bangladesh". Los Angeles Times. 6 December 1990.
  4. ^ "Bangladesh Leader in Military Regime Assumes Presidency". The New York Times. 12 December 1983.
  5. ^ "Ruling Party Is Declared the Winner in Bangladesh". The New York Times. 6 March 1988.
  6. ^ "Tenure of All Parliaments". Parliament of Bangladesh. 30 December 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  7. ^ Electoral system Inter-Parliamentary Union
  8. ^ Nizam Ahmed and Sadik Hasan Alangkar or Ahangkar? Reserved-Seat Women Members in the Bangladesh Parliament
  9. ^ 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.