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General elections were held in Bangladesh on 30 December 2018 to elect members of the Jatiya Sangsad.[1] The result was a landslide victory for the Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina. The elections were marred by violence and claims of vote rigging.[2] Opposition leader Kamal Hossain rejected the results, calling it "farcical" and demanding fresh elections to be held under a neutral government. The Bangladesh Election Commission said it would investigate reported vote-rigging allegations from "across the country."[3][4] The election saw the use of electronic voting machines for the first time.[5]

2018 Bangladeshi general election

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All 300 directly elected seats in the Jatiya Sangsad
151 seats are needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Sheikh Hasina in New York - 2018 (44057292035) (cropped).jpg Dr. Kamal Hossain.jpg
Leader Sheikh Hasina Kamal Hossain
Party Awami League Gano Forum
Alliance Grand Alliance Jatiya Oikya Front
Leader since 1981 2018
Leader's seat Gopalganj-3 did not contest
Last election 234, 79.14% Boycotted
Seats won 259 9
Seat change Increase25 Increase9
Popular vote 56,097,999 10,294,306
Percentage 81.93% 15.03%
Swing Increase2.81% Increase15.03%

Constituencies of the Jatiya Sangsad

Prime Minister before election

Sheikh Hasina
Awami League

Prime Minister-designate

Sheikh Hasina
Awami League

Contents

Electoral systemEdit

The 350 members of the Jatiya Sangsad consist of 300 directly elected seats using first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies,[6] and an additional 50 seats reserved for women. The reserved seats are distributed based on the proportional vote share of the contesting parties.[7] Each parliament sits for a five-year term.

Approximately 100 million voters were expected to vote from 40,199 polling stations across the country.[8] Electronic voting machines were used in six constituencies.[9]

BackgroundEdit

The previous general elections in January 2014 were boycotted by the main opposition alliance, led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and three-time former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. As a result, the Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won a landslide victory, taking 234 of the 300 seats in an election that saw 153 seats uncontested.[10]

In July 2017, the BNP stated that it was ready to contest the next general elections if parliament was dissolved and the election commission consisted of non-partisan members.[11] On 14 September 2017 the Official Chief Election Commissioner confirmed that the BNP would contest the elections.[12] However, following the conviction of BNP chair Khaleda Zia for corruption,[13] the High Court of Bangladesh ruled that Zia was ineligible to run for office.[14] As such her role is unclear in any potential government which contained the BNP.

CampaignEdit

In August 2017, Jatiya Party (Ershad) chairman and former President Hussain Ershad indicated that he wanted his party to leave the Awami League-led Grand Alliance and join a new alliance with democratic left and Islamic democratic parties.[15][not in citation given] In November 2018 the party announced that it would join the Awami League-led alliance.[16] On 28 December, Ershad announced Jatiya Party candidates contesting from “open seats” would support the ruling Awami League-led grand alliance candidates and extended his support to "my [his] 'sister' Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina".[17] Ershad personally withdrew from contesting the Dhaka-17 seat in favour of the Awami League candidate.[17] Ershad said however that “strong candidates” of his party would stay in the race.[17]

On 13 October 2018, the Jatiya Oikya Front (National Unity Front) was formed,[18] consisting primarily of the Gano Forum, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD and Nagorik Oikya,[19][20] led by former Foreign Minister Kamal Hossain of the Gano Forum. On 18 December the alliance announced a 14-point manifesto, which included a pledge to reduce the power of the office of Prime Minister.[21]

There was controversy in the run up to the elections surrounding the nomination of banned Jamaati candidates under the BNP banner. In 2013, the hard-line, right-wing, Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami was banned from registering and therefore contesting in elections by the High Court, citing their charter violates the constitution.[22][23] Twenty-five Jamaati candidates ran in the election, with twenty-two nominations for BNP and three running as independents.[24][25] An investigation was launched but on 23 December the Election Commission Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said they had examined the related law and "there is no scope for rejecting the Jamaat leaders' candidacy at this moment."[25] On 26 December, just days before the election, Jatiya Oikya Front leader Kamal Hossain expressed his regret about Jamaat's involvement in the elections under his alliance, claiming "had I known [that Jamaat leaders will be given BNP tickets] I would not have been part of it."[26] The media however had reported involvement at the end of November.[24][27]

In accordance with election commission rules, campaigning was halted at 08:00 AM on the morning of 28 December.[28]

Coalitions and alliancesEdit

ConductEdit

ViolenceEdit

Between 9 and 12 December 2018, 47 incidences of violence were reported, in which eight people were killed and 560 were injured.[29]

According to the BNP Office, as of 26 December 2018, at least 12,923 people (mostly BNP, Jatiya Oikya Front and 18 Party Alliance activists) had been injured in 2,833 attacks on opposition candidates.[30] Between 8 November and 25 December, at least 1,574 cases were filed against BNP officials in different districts. During the same period, 15,568 activists were arrested.[30] According to The Daily Star, at least 56 candidates, mostly from the BNP, were attacked, with around 1,190 people injured and over 800 BNP-Jamaat officials arrested between 10 and 28 December.[28]

On 29 December, the day before the elections, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission suspended 3G and 4G connections across the country until after the elections.[31]

Newspaper Daily Star wrote on 17 December 2018 that in violence before Bangladesh elections some opposition candidateswere attacked, 13 of them were injured and two arrested [32]

On election day, at least 17 people were killed in clashes between ruling party supporters and the opposition.[33]

Reports say that many supporters of the opposition Parties were arrested just before Bangladesh elections on 30 December 2018. The violence that erupted before the election day left at least 17 people dead.[34]

On 3 January 2019, Human Rights Watch called for an investigation on attack on members of the opposition party on and before Bangladesh elections.[35]

Vote riggingEdit

A BBC correspondent reported seeing a ballot box already full of votes prior to the polling station in Chittagong opening.[2] Allegations of voting irregularities including polling booths inexplicably closing for “lunch breaks”, voters being turned away and ballots being counted unrealistically quickly were widespread.[36] Local media published accounts by correspondents who claimed to have witnessed Awami League members stuffing ballot boxes in the presence of police and election officials.[37] Voters also complained about getting the ruling party's symbol stamped on their ballot papers and being instructed to vote for the ruling party in polling centers. In the presence of the voting officers, some voters had to vote for Awami League candidates and refused to accept, yet their ballots were also dropped into the ballot box.[38] The Bangladesh Election Commission promised to investigate numerous reports of vote rigging.[2]

Suppression of oppositionEdit

Opposition candidates had encountered violence, threats and harassment when they attempted to campaign. Dozen of candidates of the main opposition party, the BNP, were arrested on spurious charges.[39] Few electoral agents from the opposition showed up at polling stations.[40] Those who did show up were prevented from entering the stations by supporters of the ruling party, according to Kamal Hossain.[41]

ResultsEdit

Percent Vote, of total, by party

  Others & Independents (5.72%)

Seats, of total, by party

  Others & Independents (4.67%)
Alliance Party Votes % Seats +/–
Grand Alliance Bangladesh Awami League 258 +24
Jatiya Party (Ershad) 22 –12
Workers Party of Bangladesh 3 –3
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal 2 –3
Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh 2 +2
Jatiya Party (Manju) 1 –1
Bangladesh Tarikat Federation 1 –1
Bangladesh Nationalist Front 0 –1
Jatiya Oikya Front Bangladesh Nationalist Party 6 New
Gano Forum 2 New
[[]]
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD 0 New
Nagorik Oikya 0 New
Krishak Sramik Janata League 0 New
Bangladesh Jatiya Party 0 New
Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish 0 New
Bangladesh Muslim League 0 New
Jatiya Ganatantrik Party 0 New
Jatiya Oikya Prokriya 0 New
Kalyan Party 0 New
Liberal Democratic Party 0 New
Left Democratic Alliance Communist Party of Bangladesh 0 New
Revolutionary Workers Party 0 New
Gonoshonghoti Andolon 0 New
United Communist League of Bangladesh 0 New
Basad (Marxist) 0 New
Ganatantrik Biplobi Andolon 0 New
Samajtantrik Andolon 0 New
Independents 3 –12
Vacant 0
Total 100 300 0
Registered voters/turnout
Source: Daily Star, Daily Star, parliament.gov.bd

ReactionsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ EC reschedules election date to December 30 Dhaka Tribune, 12 November 2018
  2. ^ a b c Bangladesh election: Opposition demands new vote BBC News, 30 December 2018
  3. ^ "Bangladesh election: Sheikh Hasina wins new term as prime minister". BBC News. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  4. ^ "PM Hasina's Awami League registers landslide victory in Bangladesh". The Times of India. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  5. ^ "In A First, Electronic Voting Machines For Bangladesh General Elections". NDTV. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  6. ^ Electoral system IPU
  7. ^ Nizam Ahmed and Sadik Hasan Alangkar or Ahangkar? Reserved-Seat Women Members in the Bangladesh Parliament
  8. ^ "All you need to know about the 2018 Bangladesh election and what it means for India". Moneycontrol. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  9. ^ "EVM voting exercise in selected constituencies on Thursday". Dhaka Tribune. 26 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  10. ^ Repolls ordered in 8 constituencies BD News 24, 14 September 2013
  11. ^ "Fakhrul: General elections will not be allowed without a level playing field". 25 July 2017.
  12. ^ BNP will join national polls: CEC Prothom Alo, 14 September 2017
  13. ^ Zia Charitable Trust Graft Case: Khaleda jailed for 7 years The Daily Star, 30 October 2018
  14. ^ HC ruling apparently a blow to Khaleda The Daily Star, 28 November 2018
  15. ^ Ershad hopes PM will allow Jatiya Party ministers to resign BD News 24, 4 August 2017
  16. ^ Jatiya Party to join AL-led alliance Dhaka Tribune, 5 November 2018
  17. ^ a b c "'I am back for sister Hasina'". The Daily Star. 28 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  18. ^ "New alliance launched". The Daily Star. 14 October 2018.
  19. ^ Bangladesh opposition parties including BNP to contest election Channel News Asia, 11 November 2018
  20. ^ Bangladesh opposition alliance to contest polls ‘to rescue democracy’ The Asahi Shimbun, 11 November 2018
  21. ^ "Oikya Front unveils manifesto promising balance of power". Dhaka Tribune. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  22. ^ "Bangladesh court declares Jamaat illegal". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  23. ^ "EC scraps Jamaat's registration". The Daily Star. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Jamaat to contest election under BNP's symbol in 25 constituencies". Dhaka Tribune. 28 November 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  25. ^ a b "25 Jamaat men stay in the race". The Daily Star. 24 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  26. ^ "Kamal: Wouldn't have been part of this had I known about Jamaat". Dhaka Tribune. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  27. ^ "25 Jamaat men awarded BNP nominations". The Daily Star. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  28. ^ a b "Violence subsides as campaign ends". The Daily Star. 29 December 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  29. ^ "Election violence: UN human rights experts express concerns". Dhaka Tribune. 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  30. ^ a b "No end in sight to violence". The Daily Star. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  31. ^ "BTRC suspends 3G, 4G services". The Daily Star. 29 December 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  32. ^ "Violence just won't let up". The Daily Star. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  33. ^ Bangladesh election: Opposition demand new vote BBC News, 30 December 2018
  34. ^ "AL set for win in JS polls tainted by fraud, flaws". New Age. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  35. ^ "Ganosamhati Andolon boycotts polls". The Daily Star. 30 December 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  36. ^ Safi, Michael; Ahmed, Redwan (31 December 2018). "Bangladesh PM Hasina wins thumping victory in elections opposition reject as 'farcical'". The Guardian.
  37. ^ "Police-aided ballot stuffing". The Daily Star. 31 December 2018.
  38. ^ "Has Bangladesh's ruling party won a 'managed' election?". Deutsche Welle. 31 December 2018.
  39. ^ Why Bangladesh’s landslide election result is bad for its democracy The Washington Post, 31 December 2018
  40. ^ Bangladesh’s prime minister wins a fourth term, in ruthless fashion The Economist, 31 December 2018
  41. ^ Siddiqui, Zeba; Paul, Ruma; Das, Krishna N. (30 December 2018). "Bangladesh PM Hasina rejects complaints of rigging after landslide win". Reuters. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  42. ^ সংবাদদাতা, নিজস্ব. আওয়ামি প্লাবনে খড়কুটোর মতো ভেসে গেল বিএনপি-জামাত জোট, বাংলাদেশে ইতিহাস. anandabazar.com.
  43. ^ "World leaders congratulate Hasina over election victory". bdnews24.com.
  44. ^ "Chinese president, PM greet Sheikh Hasina on AL's victory". The Daily Star. 31 December 2018.
  45. ^ "PM Narendra Modi congratulates Sheikh Hasina on electoral victory". The Times of India.
  46. ^ "Greetings from global leaders pour in for Hasina". UNB.
  47. ^ "Palestinian President congratulates Sheikh Hasina on victory". 31 December 2018.
  48. ^ প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে অভিনন্দন জানালেন সৌদি, কাতার ও শ্রীলঙ্কার নেতারা Prothom Alo
  49. ^ "Russia's Putin greets Hasina on her re-election as Bangladesh PM". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  50. ^ "King, Crown Prince congratulate Sheikh Hasina". Saudigazette. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
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  52. ^ "Sri Lankan president, PM congratulate Hasina". UNB. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  53. ^ "Sri Lanka : Sri Lankan President congratulates Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina on her election victory". www.colombopage.com. Retrieved 1 January 2019.