Politics of Bangladesh

Politics of Bangladesh takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Constitution of Bangladesh was written in 1972 and has undergone seventeen amendments.[1]

Political System of Bangladesh
National emblem of Bangladesh.svg · Government Seal of Bangladesh.svg
Polity typeUnitary parliamentary democratic republic
ConstitutionConstitution of Bangladesh
Legislative branch
NameJatiya Sangsad
Meeting placeJatiya Sangsad Bhaban
Presiding officerShirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker
Executive branch
Head of State
TitlePresident of Bangladesh
CurrentlyAbdul Hamid
Head of Government
TitlePrime Minister
CurrentlySheikh Hasina
NameCabinet of Bangladesh
Current cabinetFourth Hasina Cabinet
LeaderPrime Minister
HeadquartersPrime Minister's Office
Judicial branch
Supreme Court
Chief judgeHasan Foez Siddique
SeatRamna Thana

The current parliamentary system was adopted in 1991. Between 1975 and 1990 the nation experienced military rule. A caretaker government was first introduced in 1990 after the resignation of military dictator Lieutenant General HM Ershad to observe a neutral democratic election, as per demands of the two major political parties Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Awami League. Following the forced resignation of HM Ershad, Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed was nominated as the Chief Advisor and observed the 1991 general election. A Caretaker government is headed by a Chief Adviser who enjoys the same power as the regular prime minister of the country except defense matters. The Advisors function as Ministers. After 1991, the Caretaker government has also held the elections of 1996, 2001 and 2008. Although the first caretaker government was intended to help the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, this system was institutionalized in 1996 by the Sixth Parliament due to rising mistrust between the BNP and Awami League. In 2011 the then ruling party Awami League abolished the caretaker government system. This has been the biggest cause of dispute among many others between the BNP and the Awami League since then.[2]

The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Bangladesh a "hybrid regime" in 2019.[3]

Main office-holders
Office Name Party Since
National emblem of Bangladesh.svg President Abdul Hamid Awami League 24 March 2013
Government Seal of Bangladesh.svg Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Awami League 6 January 2009
Parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury Awami League 30 April 2013
বাংলাদেশ সুপ্রীম কোর্টের সিলমোহর.svg Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique Nonpartisan 31 December 2021[4]

Political parties and electionsEdit

The three major parties in Bangladesh are the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Awami League and Jatiya Party. BNP finds its allies among some Islamist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh while the Awami League aligns itself traditionally with leftist and secularist parties such as Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal. Another important player is the Jatiya Party, headed by late Hussain Muhammad Ershad's Brother GM Quader. The Awami League-BNP rivalry has been bitter and punctuated by protests, violence and murder. Student politics is particularly strong in Bangladesh, a legacy from the liberation movement era. Almost all parties have highly active student wings, and students have been elected to the Parliament.

Three radical Islamist parties, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Harkatul Jihad were banned in February 2005 on grounds of militancy and terrorism.[5] Following the first series of bans, a series of bomb attacks took place in the country in August 2005. The evidence of staging these attacks by these extremist groups have been found in the investigation, and hundreds of suspected members were detained in numerous security operations in 2006, including the two chiefs of the JMB, Shaykh Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai, who were executed with other top leaders in March 2007, bringing the radical parties to an end.[6]

The 1970 Pakistani National Assembly 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.[7]

1970 Pakistani National Assembly election
Party Votes % Seats
Awami League 12,338,921 74.9 160
Jamaat-e-Islami 991,908 6.0 0
PPP 483,571 2.9 1
Pakistan Muslim League (Convention) 464,185 2.8 0
National Awami Party (Wali) 310,986 1.8 0
Pakistan Muslim League (Kou) 274,453 1.6 0
Pakistan Muslim League (Kayum) 175,822 1.0 0
Independent 561,083 3.4 1

The 1970 East Pakistan Provincial Council election was held on 17 December 1970. The percentage of casting votes was (57.69%), and the number of reserved women seat was 10.[8]

Awami League288
Pakistan Democratic Party2
National Awami Party (Wali)1
Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan1
Nizam-e-Islam Party1
Source: Baxter[9]

The 1973 general election was held on 7 March 1973. There were 15 seats reserved for women.[10]

Awami League13,798,71773.20293+5
National Awami Party (Muzaffar)1,569,2998.320New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal1,229,1106.521New
National Awami Party (Bhashani)1,002,7715.320New
Bangladesh Jatiya League62,3540.331+1
Bangla Jatiya League53,0970.280New
Communist Party of Bangladesh47,2110.250New
Sramik Krishak Samajbadi Dal38,4210.200New
Bangladesh Communist Party (Leninist)18,6190.100New
Bangladesh Shramik Federation17,2710.090New
Banglar Communist Party11,9110.060New
Bangla Chattra Union7,5640.040New
Bangladesh Jatiya Congress3,7610.020New
Jatiya Ganatantrik Dal1,8180.010New
Valid votes18,851,80897.53
Invalid/blank votes477,8752.47
Total votes19,329,683100.00
Registered voters/turnout35,205,64254.91
Source: Nohlen et al., Government of Bangladesh

Vote share by districtEdit

District BAL NAP-M NAP-B JSD Others
Rangpur 77.03 10.56 6.39 1.51 4.50
Dinajpur 78.52 8.30 4.56 0.76 7.86
Bogra 74.91 16.94 2.20 2.23 3.66
Rajshahi 74.93 8.95 4.23 8.45 3.44
Pabna 84.89 4.72 1.35 4.59 4.45
Kushtia 76.03 10.10 7.59 6.28
Jessore 77.44 3.29 9.14 6.33 3.80
Khulna 74.03 3.19 12.71 5.91 4.16
Patuakhali 73.14 14.07 1.09 1.09 10.61
Bakerganj 71.21 7.92 8.47 10.25 2.15
Tangail 56.42 5.28 16.82 19.44 2.03
Mymensingh 71.44 15.02 1.15 8.74 3.65
Dacca 76.05 7.37 3.51 5.62 7.45
Faridpur 87.90 3.42 0.81 2.76 5.10
Sylhet 67.70 14.40 3.56 4.79 9.55
Comilla 70.09 7.44 2.89 3.70 15.88
Noakhali 64.88 2.26 2.14 20.41 10.31
Chittagong 61.73 7.57 13.78 12.01 4.92
Chittagong H.T. 28.43 5.24 2.37 2.97 60.99
Source: Moten[11]

The 1979 general election was held on 18 February 1979.[12] There were 30 seats reserved for women.[13]

Bangladesh Nationalist Party7,934,23641.17207New
Awami League4,734,27724.5639–254
Bangladesh Muslim LeagueIslamic Democratic League1,941,39410.0720New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal931,8514.838+7
Awami League (Mizan)535,4262.782New
National Awami Party (Muzaffar)432,5142.241New
United People's Party170,9550.890New
Bangladesh Gono Front115,6220.602New
National Awami Party (Nurur-Zahid)88,3850.460New
Communist Party of Bangladesh75,4550.3900
Communist Party of Bangladesh (Marxist–Leninist)74,7710.391New
Bangladesh Jatiya League69,3190.362+1
Jatiya Ekata Party44,4590.231New
Bangladesh Ganatantrik Andolan34,2590.181New
Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Dal27,2590.140New
National Awami Party (Naser)25,3360.130New
Bangladesh Janata Dal18,7480.100New
National Republican Party for Parity14,4290.070New
Jatiya Janata Party10,9320.060New
Bangladesh Labour Party7,7380.040New
People's Democratic Party5,7030.030New
Sramik Krishak Samajbadi Dal4,9540.030New
Bangladesh Democratic Party3,5640.020New
Bangladesh Jatiya Mukti Party3,3630.020New
Bangladesh Tanti Samity1,8340.010New
Bangladesh Nezam-e-Islam Party1,5750.010New
Gano Azadi League1,3780.010New
United Republican Party3890.000New
Bangladesh Ganatantrik Chashi Dal1300.000New
Valid votes19,273,60097.95
Invalid/blank votes402,5242.05
Total votes19,676,124100.00
Registered voters/turnout38,363,85851.29
Source: Nohlen et al., Government of Bangladesh

The 1986 general election was held on 7 May 1986. There were 30 seats reserved for women.[14]

Jatiya Party12,079,25942.34153New
Awami League7,462,15726.1676+37
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami1,314,0574.6110New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab)725,3032.544New
Bangladesh Muslim League412,7651.454+4
National Awami Party369,8241.305+5
Communist Party of Bangladesh259,7280.915+5
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Siraj)248,7050.873New
National Awami Party (Muzaffar)202,5200.712+1
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League191,1070.673New
Workers Party of Bangladesh151,8280.533New
Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan123,3060.430New
Jana Dal98,1000.340New
Bangladesh Nagarik Sanghati68,2900.240New
Islami Jukta Front50,5090.180New
Jatiya Janata Party (Odud)46,7040.160New
Bangladesh Samyabadi Dal (M-L)36,9440.130New
Gano Azadi League23,6320.0800
Bangladesh Islamic Andolan22,9310.080New
Jamaaiatay Olamaya Islam5,6760.020New
Jamaaiatay Olamaya Islam-Nezam-e-Islami party5,5720.020New
Pragotishil Jatiyatabadi Dal2,9970.010New
Jatiya Janata Party (Sujat)1,9880.010New
Bangladesh Jayita League1,9850.010–2
Bangladesh Hindu Oikkya Front1,3380.000New
Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Dal1490.0000
Young Muslim Society1410.000New
Bangladesh Islamic Republican Party1100.000New
Valid votes28,526,65098.69
Invalid/blank votes377,2091.31
Total votes28,903,859100.00
Registered voters/turnout47,305,88661.10
Source: Nohlen et al., Government of Bangladesh

The 1988 general election was held on 3 March 1988. There were 30 seats reserved for women.[15]

Jatiya Party17,680,13368.44251+98
Combined Opposition Party3,263,34012.6319New
Bangladesh Freedom Party850,2843.292New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Siraj)309,6661.2030
Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan105,9100.4100
23-Party Alliance102,9300.400New
Ganatantra Bastabayan Party4,2090.020New
Jana Dal28,9290.1100
Source: Nohlen, Government of Bangladesh

The 1991 general election was held on 13 January 1991. There were 30 seats reserved for women.[16]

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

Following boycotts by the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Awami League, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party 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 Party278+138
Bangladesh Freedom Party10
Total votes11,776,481
Registered voters/turnout56,149,18220.97
Source: Nohlen et al.

Bangladesh Awami League won the June 1996 general election for the first time since 1973 by forming a coalition government, since they fell 5 seats short of a majority.

Awami League15,882,79237.44146New
Bangladesh Nationalist Party14,255,98633.61116–184
Jatiya Party6,954,98116.4032New
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami3,653,0138.613New
Islami Oikya Jote461,5171.091New
Jaker Party167,5970.400New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab)97,9160.231New
Workers Party of Bangladesh56,4040.130New
Gano Forum54,2500.130New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu)50,9440.120New
Communist Party of Bangladesh48,5490.110New
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Bangladesh45,5850.110New
Sammilita Sangram Parishad40,8030.100New
Bangladesh Freedom Party38,9740.090New
Samridhya Bangladesh Andolon27,0830.060New
Bangladesh Islami Front23,6960.060New
Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan18,3970.040New
Bangladesh Jatiyabadi Awami League11,1900.030New
Islami Shasantantra Andolon11,1590.030New
Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (Khalekuzzaman)10,2340.020New
Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (Mahbub)6,7910.020New
Bangladesh National Awami Party (NAP Bashani)5,9480.010New
Bangladesh Muslim League (Jamir Ali)4,5800.010New
Ganotantri Party4,1140.010New
Bangladesh National Awami Party (NAP)3,6200.010New
Democratic Republican Party3,6050.010New
Bangladesh Janata Party3,3640.010New
Jatiya Janata Party (Nurul Islam)2,9860.010New
Jatiya Janata Party (Sheikh Asad)2,3950.010New
Social Democratic Party1,9380.000New
Bangladesh Gano Azadi League1,6830.000New
Progotisil Jatiata Badi Dal1,5150.000New
Hak Kathar Mancha1,3400.000New
Bangladesh Samyabadi Dal (Marxist-Leninst)1,1480.000New
Sramik Krishak Samajbadi Dal9640.000New
Communist Kendra8880.000New
Jatiya Biplobi Front6310.000New
Saat Dalya Jote (Mirpur)6020.000New
Bangladesh Hindu League5700.000New
Bangladesh Peoples Party5580.000New
Bangladesh Bekar Samaj5480.000New
Bangladesh Tafsil Jati Federation (S.K. Mandal)5370.000New
Desh Prem Party5320.000New
Ganotantrik Sarbahara Party5020.000New
Bangladesh Jatiya League (Sobhan)4180.000New
Jana Dal3950.000New
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Mahiuddin)3930.000New
Jatiya Seba Dal3650.000New
National Democratic Party3530.000New
Bangladesh Krisak Sramik Janata Party2940.000New
Islami Al Zihad Dal2880.000New
Bangladesh Sarbahara Party2480.000New
Jatiya Daridra Party2440.000New
Sramajibi Oikya Forum2290.000New
Islamic Dal Bangladesh (Saifur)2210.000New
Bangladesh People's League2130.000New
Bangladesh Samajtantrik Samsad (Darshan Shava)2090.000New
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Mukti Andolon1890.000New
Gano Oikkya Front (Guff)1860.000New
Bangladesh Mehanati Front1730.000New
Bangladesh Tafsili Federation (Sudir)1500.000New
People's Muslim League1400.000New
National Awami Party (NAP Bhashani)1380.000New
Quran Dorshion Sangshta Bangladesh1370.000New
Progatishil Gonotantrik Shakti1340.000New
Bangladesh Islami Party1320.000New
Bangladesh Jatiya Agragati Party1310.000New
Oikya Prokria1120.000New
Bangladesh Bashani Adarsha Bastabayan Parishad1070.000New
Bangladesh Bastuhara Parishad1050.000New
Bangladesh National Congress990.000New
Quran Sunna Bastabayan Party820.000New
Bangladesh Tanjimul Muslimin810.000New
Samridhya Bangladesh Babosai Samproday480.000New
Bashani Front450.000New
Bangladesh Krishak Raj Islami Party330.000New
National Patriotic Party310.000New
Bangladesh Islami Biplobi Parishad290.000New
Taherikay Olama-e-Bangladesh290.000New
United People's Party260.000New
Bangladesh Manabodjikar Dal200.000New
Valid votes42,418,27498.92
Invalid/blank votes462,3021.08
Total votes42,880,576100.00
Registered voters/turnout56,716,93575.60
Source: Bangladesh Election Commission

BNP won two-thirds majority in the parliament and won the 2001 general election.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party22,833,97840.97193
Awami League22,365,51640.1362
Islami Jatiya Oikya Front4,038,4537.2514
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami2,385,3614.2817
Bangladesh Jatiya Party621,7721.124
Islami Oikya Jote376,3430.682
Krishak Sramik Janata League261,3440.471
Jatiya Party (Manju)243,6170.441
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal119,3820.210
Communist Party of Bangladesh56,9910.100
Workers Party of Bangladesh40,4840.070
Bangladesh Islami Front30,7610.060
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Bangladesh19,2560.030
Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan13,4720.020
Gano Forum8,4940.020
Islami Shasantantra Andolon5,9440.010
Liberal Party Bangladesh3,9760.010
National Awami Party (NAP)3,8010.010
Bangladesh Progressive Party3,7340.010
Ganatantri Party3,1900.010
Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal2,3080.000
Bangladesh Janata Party1,7030.000
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Mukti Andolon1,2480.000
Jaker Party1,1810.000
Bangladesh Peoples Congress1,1550.000
Communist Kendra1,0420.000
Communist Party of Bangladesh (Marxist–Leninist)9720.000
Bangladesh Hindu League9220.000
Gano Azadi League7800.000
Jatiyo Janata Party (Adv. Nurul Islam Khan)6570.000
Bangladesh Muslim League (Jamir Ali)5820.000
National Patriotic Party5510.000
National Awami Party (Bhashani)4420.000
Bangladesh Jatiya Tanti Dal4410.000
Samridha Bangladesh Andolon4290.000
Sramik Krishak Samajbadi Dal3910.000
Bangladesh Peoples Party3820.000
Desh Prem Party3660.000
Democratic Republican Party3640.000
Bangladesh Manabadhikar Dal2370.000
Bangladesh Krisak Sramik Janata Party1970.000
Liberal Democrats Party1700.000
Quran Darshan Sangstha Bangladesh1610.000
Jatiya Janata Party (Sheik Asad)1480.000
Pragatishil Ganotantrik Shakti1360.000
Sama-Samaj Ganotantri Party1310.000
National Awami Party (NAP-Bhashani Mushtaq)790.000
Quran and Sunnah Bastabayan Party770.000
Bhashani Front760.000
Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League590.000
Bangladesh Bhashani Adarsha Bastabayan Parishad580.000
Bangladesh Sarbahara Party440.000
Jatiya Janata Party (Hafizur)300.000
Valid votes55,736,62599.20
Invalid/blank votes449,0820.80
Total votes56,185,707100.00
Registered voters/turnout74,946,36474.97
Source: ECB

Bangladesh Awami League won two-thirds majority in the parliament and won the 2008 general election.

Party or allianceVotes%Seats+/–
Grand AllianceAwami League33,634,62948.04230+168
Jatiya Party (Ershad)4,926,3607.0427+13
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal506,6050.723+3
Workers Party of Bangladesh262,0930.372+2
Liberal Democratic Party191,6790.271New
Four Party
Bangladesh Nationalist Party22,757,10132.5030–163
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami3,289,9674.702–15
Bangladesh Jatiya Party173,2920.251–3
Islami Oikya Jote108,4150.150–2
Islami Andolan Bangladesh658,2540.9400
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Bangladesh175,2450.2500
Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh146,8270.210New
Zaker Party134,9330.1900
Jatiya Ganotantrik Party107,7960.150New
Krishak Sramik Janata League102,8790.150–1
Gano Forum72,9110.1000
Communist Party of Bangladesh42,3310.0600
Socialist Party of Bangladesh38,6430.0600
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD37,3500.050New
Bangladesh Islami Front31,7850.0500
Khelafat Majlish27,9210.040New
Bangladesh National Awami Party24,1410.030New
Bangladesh Kalayan Party21,6090.030New
Bangladesh Tarikat Federation19,9050.030New
Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan16,9440.0200
Progressive Democratic Party14,2280.020New
National People's Party10,3480.010New
Bangladesh Jatiya Party8,3830.010New
Jatiya Party (Manju)7,8180.010–1
Bangladesh NAP4,3650.010New
People's Front4,0090.010New
United Citizens Movement3,5420.010New
Ganatantri Party2,5500.0000
Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh2,0210.000New
Bangladesh Muslim League1,1130.0000
Islamic Front Bangladesh1,0200.000New
Bangladesh Freedom Party5660.000New
Communist Party of Bangladesh (ML)2970.0000
None of the above381,9240.55
Valid votes70,012,19199.10
Invalid/blank votes636,2940.90
Total votes70,648,485100.00
Registered voters/turnout81,087,00387.13
Source: ECB

The Awami League was declared victors in 127 of the 154 uncontested seats by default in the 5 January 2014 elections.[17] Of the remaining uncontested seats, the Jatiya Party led by Rowshan Ershad won 20, the JSD won three, the Workers Party won two and the Jatiya Party (Manju) won one.[18]

As a result of violence and the opposition boycott voter turnout was 22%.[19][20] Results of 139 seats out of 147 were released, with the Awami League winning 105, the Jatiya Party winning 13, the Workers Party winning four, the JSD winning two and the Tarikat Federation and BNF winning one each.[18] The remaining 8 constituencies election were suspended due to violence and re-election to be held.[18] The newly elected MPs were sworn in on 9 January.[21]

Awami League12,357,37472.14234+4
Jatiya Party1,199,7277.0034+7
Workers Party of Bangladesh359,6202.106+4
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal203,7991.195+2
Bangladesh Tarikat Federation177,4491.042+2
Jatiya Party (Manju)124,3890.732+2
Bangladesh Nationalist Front107,9900.631+1
Bangladesh National Awami Party7,1200.0400
Khelafat Majlish5,7250.0300
Gano Front2,7170.020New
Bangladesh Islami Front2,5850.0200
Ganatantri Party2,0310.0100
Valid votes17,129,85098.49
Invalid/blank votes263,0371.51
Total votes17,392,887100.00
Registered voters/turnout43,943,18439.58
Source: Parliament of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Election Commission

The 2018 general election held on 30 December 2018, voter turnout was 80%. Bangladesh Awami League under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won their 4th term as the ruling party with 257 seats. The Jatiya Party became the main opposition party with only 22 seats.[22]

Awami League[i]63,523,06674.63302+29
Jatiya Party4,443,3515.2226–8
Bangladesh Nationalist Party[ii]11,113,25313.067+7
Islami Andolan Bangladesh1,255,3731.470
Workers Party of Bangladesh[iii]646,0640.764–2
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal[iv]610,0440.722–3
Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh[v]565,9400.662+2
Nationalist Democratic Movement496,4270.580
Bangladesh Tarikat Federation[vi]429,9550.511–1
Bangladesh Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal[vii]282,3130.331+1
Bangladesh Congress184,8230.220
Jatiya Party (Manju)182,6110.211–1
Zaker Party109,4400.130
Gano Forum103,5350.122+2
Bangladesh Islami Front60,3720.070
Communist Party of Bangladesh55,4210.070
National People's Party36,6110.040
Islamic Front Bangladesh31,4680.040
Liberal Democratic Party25,1520.030
Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh18,0430.020
Socialist Party of Bangladesh17,5910.020
Bangladesh Muslim League15,1160.020
Bangladesh Nationalist Front13,2890.020–1
Islami Oikya Jote11,3280.010
Khelafat Majlish11,2030.010
Bangladesh Khilafat Andolan9,7960.010
Bangladesh National Awami Party8,3670.010
Progressive Democratic Party6,1130.010
Gano Front5,2770.010
Bangladesh National Awami Party-Bangladesh NAP5,1760.010
Bangladesh Jatiya Party4,6060.010
Jatiya Ganotantrik Party3,7980.000
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD3,1190.000
Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish2,8990.000
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Bangladesh2,3510.000
Ganatantri Party1,6410.000
Bangladesh Cultural Liberation Front (Muktijote)1,2190.000
Krishak Sramik Janata League5970.000
Communist Party of Bangladesh (M-L)3870.000
Bangladesh Muslim League-BML2280.000
Bangladesh Jatiya Party1110.000
Bangladesh Kalyan Party550.000
Registered voters/turnout104,142,38180.20
Source: ECS, ECS, ECS,
Daily Star, Financial Express, Dhaka Tribune,
Daily Star, Daily Star, parliament.gov.bd, IFES [1]

Local governanceEdit

Nepotism and dynastic politicsEdit

Popularly known as the "Battling Begums";[23] The two women have ruled Bangladesh as prime ministers at various times since 1991.[24][25]

Political dynasties have long been a feature of the Bangladesh political landscape since the country's independence in 1971.[26] They are typically characterized as families that have established their political or economic dominance in a party, in national government or other positions of national political prominence. Members of such dynasties usually do not limit their involvement to strictly political activities, and have been found participating in business or culture-related activities. This idea of inherited wealth and connections discouraging future generations to work hard can also be attributed to dynastic politicians. Dynastic politicians have a significant advantage from the start of their political career. They have a statistically higher probability, due to factors like popularity and incumbency advantage, to win elections when pitted against politicians with no such political networks. Dynastic politicians also have generally lower educational attainment, because of their reliance on dynastic connections rather than bureaucratic or academic competence for their position. Dynastic candidates, being almost exclusively from the upper classes, are naturally biased towards defending their own vested economic interests, which presents conflict of interest problems. Political dynasties also prevent challengers with potentially effective policy ideas from being able to take office, which limits the capacity for bureaucratic responsiveness and administrative effectiveness and adaptation to new ideas.[citation needed]

The Bangladeshi politics have been dominated by the bitter rivalry between two Families, Ziaur Rahman's widow, Khaleda Zia, led the Bangladesh Nationalist Party since 1981 for almost 37 years, against the Bangladesh Awami League, led since 1981 by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's daughter Sheikh Hasina. Popularly known as the "Battling Begums";[23] the two women have inherited their party identifications from their family members and have ruled Bangladesh as prime ministers since 1991.[24][25]

There has been a lot of debate regarding the effects political dynasties have on the political and economic status of Bangladeshi society.[citation needed] Despite the negative reaction of the populace towards political dynasties and the association between dynastic activities and corruption, there are no laws that restrict the presence of political dynasties in Bangladesh.[citation needed]

Political issuesEdit


Bangladesh has seen political corruption for decades. According to all major ranking institutions, Bangladesh routinely finds itself among the most corrupt countries in the world.[27]

Social issuesEdit

Social issues in Bangladesh range from liberal inceptions such as women's rights, religious liberty, religious freedom, modernity, industrialization to religious issues such as blasphemy laws, sharia legal system, religious conservatism and state religion. The two main parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League, both have contested against each other since the millennium over these issues.


Background, Independence movement and Provisional GovernmentEdit

Sculpture of Cabinet members of the Provisional Government of Bangladesh; popularly known as Mujibnagar Government

After the British conquest of Bengal on 23 June 1757 and the overthrowing and execution of Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah, considered as the last independent ruler of the region before regaining independence 200 years later, the Bengal Presidency was divided in British India in the year 1947, as East Bengal and West Bengal mainly on religious grounds. East Bengal allied itself with the newly formed Muslim state of Pakistan and became known as East Pakistan. However the relations between West Pakistan and East Pakistan were politically strained due to various issues of inequality, language, culture and a large distance of over 2000 kilometres between the two states separated by the foreign lands of India. The central power remained confined in West Pakistan, thus demand for total independent rule of East Pakistan begun. Following the Six point movement in 1966 led by Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the East Pakistan independence movement gained momentum.[28][29]

On 5 December 1969 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stated after independence East Pakistan will be renamed Bangladesh.[30] The situation escalated after the 1970 elections and the 7 March 1971 speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. After a brutal Pakistani army crackdown on the local people of Bangladesh on 25 March 1971 carried out under orders of Pakistan President Yahya Khan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Chief of Awami League and the leader of the liberation movement declared independence on 26 March 1971, which was broadcast from Chittagong radio station on 27 March, first by the then Awami League Secretary of Chittagong Mr Abdul Hannan and other Awami League leaders and then by Major Ziaur Rahman on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the evening of 27 March, thus starting the Bangladesh Liberation War. Captain Rafiq BU Commanding Officer of Chittagong East Pakistan Rifles revolted first and subsequently other commanding officers at different places: Major Shafiullah, Major Khaled Musharraf and Major Ziaur Rahman revolted with their forces. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested by the Pakistan Army in early hours of 26 March, immediately after he declared independence and was taken to West Pakistan, where he remained in jail until early January 1972.

Bangladesh's first government formed on 10 April 1971 and took the oath of office in Meherpur, Kushtia on 17 April 1971. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected as the first President of the Provisional Government of Bangladesh, Syed Nazrul Islam was elected as the Vice President, and Tajuddin Ahmed was elected as the first Prime Minister. Other major cabinet members were Mr Kamruzzaman, Mr Monsur Ali and Khodokar Mustaq Ahmed, all senior Awami League leaders. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by virtue of his position as the President of Bangladesh became the Supreme Commander of the Liberation Army, while Colonel M.A.G. Osmani was appointed by the provisional government as the Commander-in- Chief of the liberation army. Subsequently, the provisional government formed its secretariat and designated top bureaucrats as chiefs of the divisions of the Secretariat. The Provisional Government later divided Bangladesh into eleven Sectors for conducting war efficiently and in an organized manner. This Government became the first legal political entity on behalf of the fighting people of Bangladesh and represented the people in the international arena. Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed started intergovernmental dialogue with the Indian Government immediately after the formation of the Provisional Government. Bangladesh achieved victory in the liberation war on 16 December 1971.

As this government was formed during the war of independence from Pakistan, its significance holds a distinction. Its temporary headquarters had been set up at 8 Theatre Road in Calcutta, India.[31]

First Parliamentary EraEdit

1972-1975: Sheikh Mujibur RahmanEdit

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1974

On 8 January 1972 the leader of the Liberation War and Liberation movement Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released from Pakistan Jail and was sent to London. On Mujib's arrival in London, he was met by the Prime Minister of UK and other world leaders. Sheikh Mujib returned to Bangladesh on 10 January 1972, by a British Royal Air Force Aircraft. Mujib congratulated the Bengali Mukti Bahini (the Bangladesh Liberation Force) for succeeding in the war of liberation against Pakistan army. Mujib was placed at the helm of government, according to the election victory under the unified Pakistan government. In 1973 after the first Bangladesh elections, he continued his term in office with immense backing from India, and public popularity, but had great difficulty transforming this popular support into the political strength needed to function as head of government. The new constitution, which came into force on 16 December 1972, created a strong executive prime minister, a largely ceremonial presidency, an independent judiciary, and a unicameral legislature on a modified Westminster model. The 1972 constitution adopted as state policy the Awami League's (AL) four basic principles of nationalism, secularism, socialism, and democracy. A key author of the constitution of Bangladesh was Dr Kamal Hossain, who has since been a major political figure of the country.

The first parliamentary elections held under the 1972 constitution were in March 1973, with the Awami League winning a massive majority, winning a historic 293 out of a total of 300 seats. No other political party in Bangladesh's early years was able to duplicate or challenge the League's broad-based appeal, membership, or organizational strength. Mujib and his cabinet having no experience in governance nor administration, relied heavily on experienced civil servants and political factions of the Awami League, the new Bangladesh Government focused on relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the economy and society. Mujib nationalised the entire economy, banking and industrial sector. Economic conditions took a serious downturn. On top of that heavy corruption among his own party members, factions and senior leadership also added to the devastation and famine. The then U.S. Secretary of State had termed Bangladesh a Bottomless Basket. Amid mass corruption and famine throughout 1974, in December 1974, Mujib decided that continuing economic deterioration and mounting civil disorder required strong measures. After proclaiming a state of emergency, Mujib used his parliamentary majority to win a constitutional amendment limiting the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, establishing an executive presidency, and instituting a one-party system, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL), which all members of Parliament were obliged to join.

Despite promises, no sign of improvement in the economic situation surfaced. Implementation of promised political reforms was almost nil, and criticism of government policies became increasingly centered on Mujib. Serious disorientation in the armed services, disenchantment in society, deterioration of law and order created a huge mistrust of Mujib and his government including the Awami League itself. The then chief of army staff K M Shafiullah and chief of air staff A.K. Khandker stood stunned and idle during this situation. On 15 August 1975, Mujib, and most of his family, were assassinated by a small group of mid-level army officers. Mujib's daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, happened to be out of the country. A new government, headed by former Mujib associate Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, was formed.

Military EraEdit

August–November 1975Edit

Mujib's senior cabinet minister Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad formed a new government and immediately initiated a few critical changes in Mujib's policies and rules of business in government. The notorious Jail Killings happened during this period, amidst the confusion in which Bangladesh was plunged on 3 November. On the same day, Brig General Khaled Mosharraf launched his own coup fundamentally as a move to restore the chain of command broken in the army Musharraf moved swiftly to remove Moshtaque Ahmad from office. On 7 November Khaled Musharaf was killed in a counter coup engineered by Colonel Abu Taher.[32]

1975-1981: Ziaur RahmanEdit

Following Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad's removal and assassination of Brigadier General Khaled Musharaf by a segment of army personnel in 1975, a very short lived revolution resulted in the emergence of arrested deputy Army Chief of Staff Major General Ziaur Rahman ("Zia"), who managed to take the lead and bring the whole nation out of a political quagmire. His first action was to communicate to the people through radio and television and bring order and calm to the nation. He pledged full support to the civilian government headed by President Chief Justice Sayem. Acting at Zia's behest, Sayem dissolved Parliament, and instituted state of emergency under martial law. Zia brought an end to the turbulence within the army. In 1976 Colonel Abu Taher was tried for treason and executed. Fresh elections were to be in 1977 under a multi party democracy with full freedom of the press.[33]

Acting behind the scenes of the Martial Law Administration (MLA), Zia sought to invigorate government policy and administration. Lifting the ban on political parties from Mujib's one party BAKSAL rule, he sought to revitalize the demoralized bureaucracy, to begin new economic development programs, infrastructure buildup, a free press and to emphasize family planning. In November 1976, Zia became Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) and assumed the presidency upon Sayem's retirement 5 months later, on 21 April 1977.

As President, Zia announced a 19-point program of economic reform and began dismantling the MLA. Keeping his promise to hold elections, Zia won a 5-year term in the June 1978 elections, with 76% of the vote. In November 1978, his government removed the remaining restrictions on political party activities in time for parliamentary elections in February 1979. These elections, which were contested by more than 30 parties, marked the culmination of Zia's transformation of Bangladesh's Government from the MLA to a democratically elected, constitutional one. The Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), founded by Zia, emerged as the two major parties. The constitution was again amended to provide for an executive prime minister appointed by the president, and responsible to a parliamentary majority. Zia invigorated a strong foreign policy based on sovereignty and economic independence. He initiated many social programs to uplift the poor through honest hard work and education. During this period, Bangladesh's economy achieved fast economic and industrial growth. His greatest legacy on the people of Bangladesh was unity and self-dependence.

In May 1981, Zia was assassinated in Chittagong by dissident elements of the military. There was no coup or uprising attempted, and the major conspirators were never taken into custody or killed. In accordance with the constitution, Vice President Justice Abdus Sattar was sworn in as acting president. He immediately set out to continue Zia's policies and called for fresh elections. Due to President Zia's tremendous popularity Satter won as the BNP's candidate. President Sattar sought to follow the policies of his predecessor and retained essentially the same cabinet.

1982-1990: Hussain Mohammed ErshadEdit

President HM Ershad in Bangabhaban (1986)

Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Hussain Mohammed Ershad assumed power in the a full-fledged but bloodless coup on 24 March 1982. He removed the country's democratically elected president and suspended the constitution and declared martial law. He cited pervasive corruption, ineffectual government, and economic mismanagement for legitimising his action. The following year, Ershad assumed the presidency on 11 December 1983, retaining his positions as army chief and CMLA, first time in Bangladesh. During most of 1984, Ershad sought the opposition parties' participation in local elections under martial law. The opposition's refusal to participate, however, forced Ershad to abandon these plans. Ershad was capable of managing the Awami League through financial and political support. The Awami League's support gave him the strength and legitimacy to seek public support for his regime in a national referendum on his leadership in March 1985. He won overwhelmingly, although turnout was small. Two months later, Ershad held elections for local council chairmen. Pro-government candidates won a majority of the posts, setting in motion the President's ambitious decentralization program that Ziaur Rahman had initiated. Political life was finally liberalized in early 1986, and additional political rights, including the right to hold large public rallies, were restored. Additional support from Jamaati Islami at the same time gave Ershad's political vehicle for the transition from martial law some form of legitimacy and the political order of Ershad and his Jatiya Party was established.

Despite a boycott by the BNP, led Begum Khaleda Zia, parliamentary elections were held on schedule on 7 May 1986. The Jatiya Party won a modest majority of the 300 elected seats in the national assembly. The participation of the Awami League led by party chairman Sheikh Hasina Wazed—lent the elections some credibility, despite widespread charges of voting irregularities and ballot box theft.

Ershad resigned as Army Chief of Staff and retired from military service in preparation for the presidential elections, scheduled for October 1986. Protesting that martial law was still in effect, both the BNP refused to put up opposing candidates. The Awami League participated by breaking their open public promise. Ershad easily outdistanced the remaining candidates, taking 84% of the vote. Although Ershad's government claimed a turnout of more than 50%, opposition leaders of BNP, and much of the foreign press, estimated a far lower percentage and alleged voting irregularities.

Ershad continued his stated commitment to lift martial law. In November 1986, his government mustered the necessary two-thirds majority in the national assembly to amend the constitution and confirm the previous actions of the martial law regime. The President then lifted martial law, and the opposition party Awami League of Hasina Wazed took their elected seats in the national assembly.

In July 1987, however, after the government hastily pushed through a controversial legislative bill to include military representation on local administrative councils. Passage of the bill helped spark an opposition movement by Bangladesh Nationalist Party that quickly gathered momentum. The Awami League and Jamaat Islami. understanding their political gamble, gradually united with Bangladesh Nationalist Party for the first time. The government began to arrest scores of opposition activists under the country's Special Powers Act of 1974. Despite these arrests, opposition parties continued to organize protest marches and nationwide strikes. After declaring a state of emergency, Ershad dissolved Parliament and scheduled fresh elections for March 1988.

All major opposition parties refused government overtures to participate in these polls, maintaining that the government was illegal and incapable of holding free and fair elections. Despite the opposition boycott, the government proceeded. The ruling Jatiya Party won 251 of the 300 seats. The Parliament, while still regarded by the opposition as an illegitimate body, held its sessions as scheduled, and passed numerous bills.

By 1989, the domestic political situation in the country seemed to have quieted. The local council elections were generally considered by international observers to have been less violent and more free and fair than previous elections. However, opposition to Ershad's rule began to regain momentum, escalating by the end of 1990 in frequent general strikes, increased student's campus protests, public rallies, and a general disintegration of law and order. This was popularly termed the 1990 Mass Uprising in Bangladesh.

On 6 December 1990, after 2 months of widespread civil unrest, Ershad offered his resignation. On 27 February 1991, an interim government oversaw what most observers widely believed to be the nation's most free and fair elections to date.

Current Parliamentary EraEdit

1991-1996: Khaleda ZiaEdit

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia with US President Bill Clinton.

The center-right BNP won a plurality of seats in the 1991 Bangladesh General Election and formed a coalition government with the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, with Khaleda Zia, widow of Ziaur Rahman, obtaining the post of Prime Minister. Only four parties had more than 10 members elected to the 1991 Parliament: The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia; the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina; the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), led by Golam Azam; and the Jatiya Party (JP), led by acting chairman Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury while its founder, former President Ershad, served out a prison sentence on corruption charges. The electorate approved still more changes to the constitution, formally re-creating a parliamentary system and returning governing power to the office of the prime minister, as in Bangladesh's original 1972 constitution. In October 1991, members of Parliament elected a new head of state, President Abdur Rahman Biswas.

In March 1994, controversy over a parliamentary by-election, which the opposition claimed the government had rigged, led to an indefinite boycott of Parliament by the entire opposition. The opposition also began a program of repeated general strikes to press its demand that Khaleda Zia's government resign and a caretaker government supervise a general election. Efforts to mediate the dispute, under the auspices of the Commonwealth Secretariat, failed. After another attempt at a negotiated settlement failed narrowly in late December 1994, the opposition resigned en masse from Parliament. The opposition then continued a campaign of Marches, demonstrations, and strikes in an effort to force the government to resign. The year 1995 observed nearly 200 days of general strikes disrupting the countries normal activities. The opposition, including the Awami League's Sheikh Hasina, pledged to boycott national elections scheduled for 15 February 1996.

In February, Khaleda Zia was re-elected for the second term by a landslide in voting boycotted and denounced as unfair by the three main opposition parties. In March 1996, following escalating political turmoil, the sitting Parliament enacted a constitutional amendment to allow a neutral caretaker government to assume power conduct new parliamentary elections; former Chief Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman was named Chief Advisor (a position equivalent to prime minister) in the interim government. New parliamentary elections were held in June 1996 and were won by the Awami League; party leader Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister.

1996-2001: Sheikh HasinaEdit

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inspects the ceremonial honour guard during a full honour arrival ceremony at the Pentagon on 17 October 2000.

Sheikh Hasina formed what she called a "Government of National Consensus" in June 1996, which included one minister from the Jatiya Party and another from the Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal, a very small leftist party. The Jatiya Party never entered into a formal coalition arrangement, and party president H.M. Ershad withdrew his support from the government in September 1997. Only three parties had more than 10 members elected to the 1996 Parliament: The Awami League, BNP, and Jatiya Party. Jatiya Party president, Ershad, was released from prison on bail in January 1997.

BNP staged a walkout from parliament in August 1997. The BNP returned to Parliament under another agreement in March 1998. In June 1999, the BNP and other opposition parties again began to abstain from attending Parliament. Opposition parties have staged an increasing number of nationwide general strikes, rising from 6 days of general strikes in 1997 to 27 days in 1999. A four-party opposition alliance formed at the beginning of 1999 announced that it would boycott parliamentary by-elections and local government elections unless the government took steps demanded by the opposition to ensure electoral fairness. The government did not take these steps, and the opposition has subsequently boycotted all elections, including municipal council elections in February 1999, several parliamentary by-elections, and the Chittagong city corporation elections in January 2000. The opposition demands that the Awami League government step down immediately to make way for a caretaker government to preside over parliamentary and local government. In March 2000, US President Bill Clinton became the first US president to visit Bangladesh.[34] Hasina later stated that during the visit Clinton wanted to import gas from the Country, but she had to decline due to fear of scarcity of gas and for the welfare of the people as they were heavily dependent on gas.[35]

2001-2006: Khaleda ZiaEdit

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia with the President of Brazil, Lula da Silva (2004)

A Khaleda-led four-party alliance won two-thirds of total parliamentary seats with a total 193 seats, while Awami League won 62 seats. Thus Khaleda Zia won a second term as Prime Minister in 2001. Her coalition included several Islamist parties. The Awami League walked out from the Parliament in June 2003 to protest derogatory remarks about Sheikh Hasina by a State Minister and the allegedly partisan role of the Parliamentary Speaker. Throughout the year 2004 the opposition party Awami League carried out various processions pressing various demands and claiming government incompetence on various issues. In June 2004, the Awami League returned to Parliament without having any of their demands met.

On 21 August 2004 a group of terrorists conducted vicious grenade attacks on a rally held by the opposition party Awami League including leader Sheikh Hasina. Prominent leaders including Ivy Rahman were killed in the attack, and Hasina herself sustained injuries to her ears. A total of 13 grenades were blasted and 24 people killed. The Awami League called for a nationwide hartal (general strikes) on 23 and 24 August 2004 following the incident. Begum Khaleda Zia, then Prime Minister of Bangladesh condemned the attacks, and also vowed a strong probe to catch the culprits. But they provided misleading information. Only after the current government tenure ended a neutral probe formed and revealed that Tarique Rahman son of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia along with the then Home Minister Lutfuzzaman Babar had masterminded the attack.[36] But BNP has denied the allegations.

In 2005 Awami League attended Parliament irregularly before announcing a boycott of the entire June 2005 budget session.[37] The BNP government tenure expired in October 2006, and was followed by a period of widespread political crisis.

2006-2008: Caretaker government: Fakhruddin AhmedEdit

Hamid Karzai, Pervez Musharraf, and Fakhruddin Ahmed at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Following the end of Khaleda Zia's government in late October 2006, there were protests and strikes over uncertainty about who would head the caretaker government (which was accused of BNP bias), held by Awami League, paralyzing the country and resulting in the death of at least 40 people in the following month in November 2006.[38] An election was scheduled for the beginning of 2007, however it did not take place. Given the parties' failure to agree on a candidate For Chief Advisor, according to the constitution the position devolved to the President, Iajuddin Ahmed, serving since 2002. He took it on in addition to his regular responsibilities, which under the caretaker government included the Defense Ministry. Iajuddin Ahmed formed a government, appointing ten advisors to a council to act as ministers. He appointed his press spokesman, the journalist-editor turned politician M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, as his chief Presidential Advisor, with the status of Minister of State. Chowdhury had the responsibility to negotiate with the political parties to bring them to participation in the election.[39] In January 2007, Iajuddin Ahmed stepped down as the head of the caretaker government, under pressure from the military.[40]Fakhruddin Ahmed, former World Bank economist, was selected to replace him and with the commitment to rooting out corruption and preparing a better voter list. Fakhruddin Ahmed became the Chief Advisor. A State of Emergency was declared and a massive campaign to crack down on corruption was undertaken. By July 2007 some 200,000 people had been arrested under corruption charges. The government said it would hold elections before the end of 2008.

In April 2007, Ahmed's military backed administration attempted to reform the political parties by exiling Hasina and Zia, but this was never enforced. Hasina, who had been visiting her children in the US, was allowed to return but she had to face serious charges, including involvement in the assassination of four political rivals. In July, she was arrested after two businessmen testified that she had extorted 80 million (US$1.16 million) from them.[41] This provoked angry protests from her supporters; even her bitter rival Khaleda Zia, as well as six British MPs and MEPs, called for her release.[42] Khaleda herself faced charges of tax evasion and was later arrested. Tarique Rahman was taken to custody for the 2004 grenade attacks and various corruption charges including money laundering, and was later sent on forced exile on 11 September 2008 and since then has not been able to return to the country.[43] After holding power for almost two years, the political situation had finally calmed and Ahmed decided to return parliamentary democracy, testing the political situation with some local elections held on 4 August 2008, which were peaceful.[44] Both Hasina and Khaleda were finally released from prison and the General elections were held on 29 December 2008. The Awami League and its Grand Alliance won the elections with two-thirds of the seats in parliament. The BNP and its four-party alliance, including Jamaat-e-Islami, comprised the major opposition.

2009 – present: Sheikh HasinaEdit

Sheikh Hasina with Vladimir Putin in Moscow

The Awami League came to power by winning the vast majority of parliament seats in the election held on 29 December 2008, and Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the second time. Her cabinet took oath on 6 January 2009. HM Ershad was promised to be made President in exchange for support for Awami League, but despite supporting Awami League, this promise was not fulfilled and Zillur Rahman became president. The first two years under this government was peaceful, but a debatable issue took place when the Awami League government enforced an existing law to reclaim the house where Khaleda Zia had lived for nearly 40 years for a nominal cost. Khaleda Zia moved to the house of her brother Sayeed Iskandar at Gulshan. In protest BNP would abstain from parliament. This period also observed tremendous economic growth.

Controversy erupted in 2011 after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared the abolition of the care-taker government system, contradicting her own motives and views in the mid-1990s when she had demanded that elections should be held under neutral care-taker governments. Hasina justified this by stating that a neutral care-taker government may abuse its power (referring to the care-taker government crisis in 2006–2008) and take unlawful and autocratic control of the country. At the same time, arrests and trials of members accused of war crimes of the political party Jamaat-e-Islami had begun. This caused major disagreements among the ruling Awami League with the chief opposition party BNP and its major ally Jamaat. In a bid to return to the 1972 Constitution, the government made several reforms to the constitution of Bangladesh in 2011, and readopted Secularism. In 2012 a coup attempt against Hasina by mid-ranking army officers was stopped, with Bangladesh army being tipped off by Indian intelligence agency. Also in 2012, Bangladesh won a legal battle against Myanmar under international court regarding disputed sea territories, giving Bangladesh a tremendous advantage on the oceanic areas.[45]

The period 2012-2014 was marked by widespread political unrest and violence in the form of strikes, riots and acts of vandalism which led to massive property damages, economic losses and death of many ordinary citizens. Petrol bombs and cocktails were being used at their peaks for arson attacks. But the ruling party remained committed to their decision and compared the ongoing protests to acts of terrorism. Both the ruling party and the opposition received International criticism.[46] The scheduled date of the 10th general election was 5 January 2014. The opposition party received several pleas by the ruling party to abandon their path of violence and join the election, but they repeatedly declined. Despite the crisis the controversial 5 January 2014 election was held (a few election centers were bombed by BNP-Jamaat supporters, voters faced harassment) with mass boycott from BNP and its major allies. At least 21 people were killed on the 5 January election day violence.[47] Awami League had a landslide victory, and Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Prime Minister for the third time on 9 January 2014, while Rowshan Ershad of the Jatiya Party became the new leader of the opposition, as Khaleda-led BNP boycotted the election. The ongoing BNP-Jamaat protests diluted after failing to stop the January 2014 election, and overthrow the ruling party, and by the end of March 2014, political stability was reached.

In the tenth general election, Sheikh Hasina won a controversial one-sided walkover election after her main rival Khaleda Zia and all other opposition parties boycotted the polls. Awami League once again took office on 9 January 2014. Over a 100 people were killed in the 2016 Union Parishad Election in violent clashes between Awami League and BNP supporters.[48] In April 2017 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a landmark visit to neighboring India and signed 22 new deals and MoUs with India taking the Indo-BD bilateral relationships to a new height. This also included a defense cooperation, originally proposed by India.[49] BNP harshly criticized the move with Khaleda alleging the ruling party was selling Bangladesh to India and pointing the Government's failure to make the long-awaited Teesta deal. Awami League dismissed the allegations, assuring that it was just a framework to strengthen regional ties with India. Also in 2017 Bangladesh was met with the 2017 Rohingya Refugee Crisis, in which the government received international praise for allowing over 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar (where around 20,000 of them were killed) into the country but also some domestic criticisms due to this being an additional burden to Bangladesh a country already overpopulated with 17 crore (170 million) people and having a small land.[50]

Most of the post 2014 election period however saw political calm. Tensions between the BNP and Awami League reignited in 2018 after BNP once again started pressing demands for a caretaker government to observe the 11th general election. BNP also criticized Awami League's rising dependency on law enforcement agencies such as the police force and for holding back people's freedom of speech.[51] On 8 February 2018 Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman as per court verdict, were jailed for 5 and 10 years respectively due to their involvement in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case. While Tarique was on exile, Khaleda would be imprisoned on old Dhaka Central Jail located in Nazimuddin Road. BNP totally rejected the verdict, alleging that it was Awami League's conspiracy to destroy their party and to keep them out of the next general election. In protest BNP held nationwide demonstrations, which were foiled by the well prepared police force across the nation, with a large number of BNP members also being arrested during clashes with the police.[52] After Khaleda Zia was jailed, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and prominent leader Moudud Ahmed oversaw most of the party's activities. After Khalada Zia's prison sentence was challenged at the High Court, it was increased to 10 years, potentially ending her political career.[53] During this time the government passed the controversial "Digital Security Act 2018", under which any criticisms of the government over the internet or any other media, would be met with various degrees of prison terms.[54]

On 22 September 2018, in a massive rally, the newly formed coalition party: Jatiya Oikya Prokriya (JOP), a platform led by Dr. Kamal Hossain and Prof. Badruddoza Chowdhury, allied themselves with the main opposition party BNP, on condition BNP will no longer be alliance with Jamaat, and vowed joint movements to restore democracy. The BNP-JOP alliance was named the Jatiya Oikya Front.[55][56] The Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader called the opposing Jatiya Oikya Front, weak and stated that the opposing alliance was not being viewed as a credible threat by the Government.[57][58] On 10 October 2018, court verdict against the 2004 grenade attack was given. Top BNP leader Lutfuzzaman Babar was given the death penalty and Tariqe Rahman was given life term imprisonment. BNP rejected the verdict and carried out protests against it.[59] During this time Kamal Hossain as the leader of the Jatiya Oikya Front became the main opposition leader.[60]

The 2018 Bangladeshi general election was held on 30 December 2018. On the election day at least 14 people died in violence between the Awami League supporters and the Jatiya Oikya Front supporters.[61] The Awami League returned to power winning 259 out of 300 parliamentary seats, making up the largest government body in Bangladesh after 1973 (where Awami League had won 293 out of 300 seats). The Jatiya Oikya Front only won 7 seats and alleged the 2018 election to be rigged and opted to boycott the parliament and stated that they would demand for fresh elections. The Jatiya Party became the main opposition party with only 20 seats. This was Awami League's record 4th victory in the general elections under Sheikh Hasina.[62]

Bangladesh Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina's new cabinet took oath on 3 January 2019.[63][64] Despite refusing to sell gas (LPG) at a better deal to the US back in 2000, in October 2019 Sheikh Hasina in a contradictory statement controversially stated that she will sell LPG to India despite the scarcity of LPG in Bangladesh (BD). Hasina also stated she will give India free access to extract BD's Feni water, despite her failure to secure the Teesta river sharing deal.[65][66] The dispute between BD and Myanmar over the unresolved Rohingya Refugee Crisis continued during this period, with Myanmar's unwillingness to take back the refugees.[67] In October 2020 Myanmar deployed their army troops on the Bangladesh border. Bangladesh appealed to the UN Security Council to prevent any escalation. Later Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assured "a safe zone must be created for the Rohingyas Refugees. If that is done, Myanmar will face a huge problem in the Rakhine region. I don't think Myanmar will lock in war with Bangladesh; China will not let that happen." No further escalations have been reported, BD and Myanmar have since remained in peace militarily, but the diplomatic dispute continues to be debated at the UN.[68][69][70]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The voting figures of the Awami League does not include the votes for 14 candidates of allied parties who contested on the Awami League 'boat' symbol
  2. ^ The voting figures of BNP includes all votes cast for candidates on the BNP 'sheaf of paddy' election symbol, including candidates belonging to allied parties
  3. ^ WPB fielded three candidates on its 'hammer' election symbol, who received 1,729 votes, and five candidates on the Awami League 'boat' symbol, who received 644,335 votes.
  4. ^ JASAD fielded nine candidates on its 'torch' election symbol, who received39,104 votes, and three candidates on the Awami League 'boat' symbol, who received 570940 votes.
  5. ^ Bikalpdhara Bangladesh fielded 23 candidates on its 'winnowing fan' election symbol, who received 18,183 votes, and three candidates on the Awami League 'boat' symbol, who received 547,757 votes.
  6. ^ Bangladesh Tarikat Federation fielded 16 candidates on its 'winnowing fan' election symbol, who received 6,087 votes, and two candidates on the Awami League 'boat' symbol, who received 423,868 votes.
  7. ^ One Bangladesh JASAD candidate ran on the Awami League 'boat' symbol.


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External linksEdit