Elections in Bangladesh
Bangladesh elects on national level a legislature with one house or chamber. The unicameral Jatiyo Sangshad, meaning national parliament, has 350 members of which 300 members are directly elected through a national election for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies while 50 memberships are reserved for the women who are selected by the ruling party or coalition. The Prime Minister is the head of the government. The president who is the head of the state is elected by the National Parliament. The president of Bangladesh is a ceremonial post and he/she does not exercise any control over the running of the state.
Bangladesh has an unofficial two-party system which has evolved over time since the election of 1991. It means that there are two dominant political parties or coalitions, one headed by Bangladesh Awami League and the other by Bangladesh Nationalist Party, with extreme difficulty for anybody to achieve electoral success under the banner of any other party in terms of achieving a majority.
The constitution was adopted in 1972 and declared Bangladesh as a parliamentary republic. However, in 1975 executive powers were transferred to the Presidency, reducing the Jatiyo Sangshad and the Prime Minister to legislative powers only. This system was maintained until 1991 when the Twelfth Amendment was passed, returning the state to a parliamentary system. Since 1971, 11 parliamentary elections have been held and three Presidential elections have been held by popular vote.
The Parliament of Bangladesh (Jatiya Sangsad) consists of 350 members elected to five-year terms. Of that number, 300 are elected in single-member territorial constituencies according to the First-Past-the-Post electoral system. The remaining 50 seats are reserved for women, and are filled on the basis of proportional representation by a vote of the 300 members. The number of reserved seats has been revised over the years, increasing from 30 to 45 under the 8th parliament and 45 to 50 under the 9th parliament.
Since independence in 1971, 11 general elections have been held in Bangladesh to elect members of the Jatiya Sangsad:
The election was held on 7 December 1970. The total number of voters were 29,479,386. The number of casting votes was 17,005,163 (57.68%), the valid casting votes was 1,64,54,278.
|Serial||Political Party||Total Candidates||Seats||Votes||Percentage||Symbol|
|5||Pakistan Muslim League (Convention)||93||0||4,64,185||2.8%|
|6||Pakistan Muslim League (Kou)||50||0||2,74,453||1.6%|
|7||Pakistan Muslim League (Kayum)||65||0||1,75,822||1%|
|8||National Awami Party (Wali)||39||0||3,10,986||1.8%|
|Serial||Political Party||Total Candidates||Seats||Votes||Percentage||Symbol|
|5||Pakistan Muslim League (Convention)||0||1%|
|6||Pakistan Muslim League (Kou)||0||0.05%|
|7||Pakistan Muslim League (Kayum)||0||0.05%|
|8||National Awami Party (Wali)||1||0.9%|
|2||Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal||237||1||12,29,110||6.52%||Torch|
|3||National Awami Party (Mozaffar)||224||0||15,69,299||8.33%||Hut|
|4||National Awami Party (Bhasani)||169||0||10,02,771||3%||Sheaf of Paddy|
|5||Communist Party of Bangladesh||4||0||47,211||0.25%||Key|
|6||Communist Party of Bangladesh (L)||2||0||18,619||0.1%||Bullock Cart|
|7||Bangladesh Jatiyo League||8||1||62,354||0.33%||Plough|
|8||Banglar Communist Party||3||0||11,911||0.06%||Axe|
|Bangladesh Nationalist Party||7,934,236||41.2||207||New|
|Bangladesh Awami League||4,734,277||24.5||39||–254|
|Bangladesh Muslim League–Islamic Democratic League||1,941,394||10.1||20||New|
|Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal||931,851||4.8||8||+7|
|Bangladesh Awami League (Mizan)||535,426||2.8||2||New|
|National Awami Party (Muzaffar)||432,514||2.2||1||New|
|Bangladesh Gono Front||115,622||0.6||2||New|
|Bangladesh Samyabadi Dal (Marxist-Leninist)||74,771||0.4||1||New|
|Bangladesh Jatiya League||69,319||0.4||2||1|
|Jatuya Ekata Party||44,459||0.2||1||New|
|Bangladesh Ganatantrik Andolan||34,259||0.2||1||New|
|Bangladesh Democratic Party||462,127||2.4||0||New|
|Bangladesh Ganatantrik Chashi Dal||0||New|
|Bangladesh Janata Dal||0||New|
|Bangladesh Jatiya Mukti Party||0||New|
|Bangladesh Labour Party||0||New|
|Bangladesh Nezam-e-Islam Party||0||New|
|Bangladesh Tanti Samity||0||New|
|Communist Party of Bangladesh||0||0|
|Gano Azadi League||0||New|
|Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Dal||0||New|
|Jatiya Janata Party||0||New|
|National Awami Party (Naser)||0||New|
|National Awami Party (Nurur-Zahid)||0||New|
|National Republican Party for Parity||0||New|
|People's Democratic Party||0||New|
|Shramik Krishak Samajbadi Dal||0||New|
|United People's Party||0||New|
|United Republican Party||0||New|
The result was a victory for Ershad's Jatiya Party, which won a simple parliamentary majority with 153 of 300 seats. However the result was controversial, with Awami League accusing the Jatiya Party of election rigging and a British team of observers - consisting of a former Labour Party minister, a Conservative Party lawmaker and a BBC journalist - terming the elections a "tragedy for democracy" and a "cynically frustrated exercise". Bangladesh Nationalist Party Did Not Contest This Election,They Were Highest Majority Party Last Time.
Ershad's Jatiya Party won 251 of the 300 seats. The remaining 49 seats were shared between three other political parties which did participate, as well as a number of independent candidates. The election was described by one Western diplomat as "a mockery of an election."
|Combined Opposition Party||3,263,340||12.6||19||New|
|Bangladesh Freedom Party||850,284||3.3||2||New|
|Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Siraj)||309,666||1.2||3||0|
|Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan||242,571||0.9||0||–|
|Ganatantra Basttabayan Party|
|Taish Dalio Jote|
|Source: Nohlen et al.|
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.
|Bangladesh Nationalist Party||10,507,549||30.8||140||New|
|Bangladesh Awami League||10,259,866||30.1||88||New|
|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|
|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||–|
|Source: Nohlen et al.|
Following boycotts by the main opposition party Bangladesh Awami League, BNP won the uncontested elections. However, amidst protests, they were made to cave into Awami League's original demands, dissolve the parliament, and hold elections under a neutral caretaker government after the enactment of the 13th amendment.
|Bangladesh Nationalist Party||300||+160|
|Source: Nohlen et al.|
The elections were won by the Bangladesh Awami League, who were just shy of a simple parliamentary majority, winning 146 (of the required 151 for a majority) seats. The election was close in terms of popular vote share between Awami League and BNP, with a difference of less than 4%. However, as a result of first-past-the-post voting, Awami League secured a 30 seat lead above BNP. The election saw a high voter turnout of ~74%.
With the support of Jatiya Party, the leader of Awami League, Sheikh Hasina, was invited to form a government on 23 June, beginning her first term as Prime Minister. The first sitting of the seventh parliament of Bangladesh was subsequently held on 14 July 1996.
|Bangladesh Awami League||15,882,792||37.4||146||New|
|Bangladesh Nationalist Party||14,255,986||33.6||116||-34|
|Islami Oikkya Jote||461,517||1.1||1||New|
|Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab)||97,916||0.2||1||New|
|74 other parties||662,451||1.6||0||0|
|Source: Nohlen et al.|
BNP were the clear winners in terms of seats, winning a secure majority with 193 (of 300) seats. BNP's allied parties Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, Jatiya Party (Manju) and Islami Oikya Jote also won a combined 23 seats, bringing the alliance total to 216 seats. As a result of the first-past-the-post voting system in Bangladesh, Awami League only secured 62 seats, despite a difference in popular vote share of only ~1.4%. Voter turnout was very high at 75%.
With a clear majority BNP leader Khaleda Zia was invited to form a government and on 10 October 2001, was sworn in as Prime Minister and formed her Cabinet, which included members of her allied parties. The first sitting of the Eighth Parliament occurred on 28 October 2001
|Bangladesh Nationalist Party||23,074,714||41.40||193|
|Bangladesh Awami League||22,310,276||40.02||62|
|Jatiya Party (Ershad)
|Jatiya Party (Naziur)||521,472||0.94||4|
|Islami Oikya Jote||312,868||0.56||2|
|Krishak Shramik Janata League||261,344||0.47||2|
|Jatiya Party (Manju)||243,617||0.44||1|
|Non-partisan and others||2,262,045||4.06||6|
|Total (turnout 74.9 %)||55,728,162||100.0||300|
|Source: Bangladesh Election Commission through Adam Carr and Daily Star|
Bangladesh Awami League won two-third majority in the parliament and won the elections.
|Grand Alliance||Bangladesh Awami League||33,887,451||49.0%||230||+168|
|Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal||429,773||0.6%||3||+2|
|Workers Party of Bangladesh||214,440||0.3%||2||+1|
|Liberal Democratic Party||161,372||0.2%||1||±0|
|Four Party Alliance||Bangladesh Nationalist Party||22,963,836||33.2%||30||–163|
|Bangladesh Jatiya Party-BJP||95,158||0.1%||1||–4|
|Islami Oikya Jote||-||-||-||-|
|Independents and others||3,366,858||4.9%||4||–2|
|Source: Electoral Commission of Bangladesh seat-wise tally Election commission homepage|
As a result of the boycott 153 (of 300) seats were uncontested, of which Awami League won 127 by default on 5 January 2014, the Jatiya Party (Ershad) led by Rowshan Ershad won 20, the JSD won three, the Workers Party won two and the Jatiya Party (Manju) won one.
Results of 139 seats out of remaining 147 seats (which were contested) were released, with the Awami League winning 105, the Jatiya Party (Ershad) winning 13, the Workers Party winning four, the JSD winning two and the Tarikat Federation and BNF winning one each. The remaining 8 constituencies election were suspended due to violence and re-election to be held. The newly elected MPs were sworn in on 9 January.
|Jatiya Party (Ershad)||5,167,698||11.31||34||+10|
|Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal||798,644||1.75||5||+2|
|Jatiya Party (Manju)||0.3||2||+2|
|Bangladesh Tarikat Federation||0.3||2||+2|
|Bangladesh Nationalist Front||0.3||1||+1|
|Sources: Parliament of Bangladesh, IFES|
Note: The following results are to be considered preliminary until the official election commission data is released.
Following constitutional reform and a return to a parliamentary democracy in 1991, the office of the President has been largely a ceremonial one. The President is elected by a vote in the Jatiya Sangsad. A Presidential term is for five-years, although they remain in office until their successor is elected. Elections under this system have taken place in 1991, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2013 and 2018.
Presidential elections were held on 3 June 1978. They were the first direct elections for the post President, as the post had previously been elected by the Jatiya Sangsad. The result was a victory for Ziaur Rahman, who won 76.6% of the vote. Turnout was 54.3%.
|Ziaur Rahman||Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Front||15,733,807||76.6|
|M. A. G. Osmani||Ganatantrik Oikkya Jote||4,455,200||21.7|
|Eight other candidates||342,554||1.7|
Presidential elections were held on 15 November 1981. The result was a victory for the incumbent acting President Abdus Sattar of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who received 65.5% of the vote, beating his principal challengerKamal Hossain of the Awami League. Voter turnout was 54.3%.
|Abdus Sattar||Bangladesh Nationalist Party||14,203,958||65.5|
|Kamal Hossain||Bangladesh Awami League||5,636,113||26.0|
|M. A. G. Osmani||Independent||293,637||1.4|
|M. A. Jalil||Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal||248,769||1.1|
|Muzaffar Ahmed||NAP (M)-CPB||224,188||1.0|
|33 other candidates||682,154||3.2|
Presidential elections were held on 15 October 1986. The result was a victory for incumbent Hussain Muhammad Ershad, who had assumed the office in 1983 following a military coup. Ershad reportedly won 84.1% of the vote with a voter turnout of 54.9%. However the elections were controversial as they were boycotted by all major opposition candidates and there were reports of irregularities.
|Hussain Muhammad Ershad||Jatiya Party||21,795,337||84.1|
|Syed Faruque Rahman||Bangladesh Freedom Party||1,202,303||4.6|
|Nine other candidates||1,408,195||5.4|
- Reserved parliamentary seats for women gets 25-year extension|Dhaka Tribune|8 July 2018
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- Bangladesher Nirbachan 1970-2001 by A S M Samsul Arefin, Bangladesh Research and Publications, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2003, page-25
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- Bangladesh election: Opposition demands new vote BBC News, 30 December 2018
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