Political Landscape and Parliamentary Development

  • A. T. M. Obaidullah


This chapter traces the growth of the Bangladesh Parliament since its germination in British India up to the turn of the twenty-first century. After discussing its roots in British India and the Pakistan period, it analyzes the Parliament’s development in response to regime change and an evolving political landscape in Bangladesh since independence. In particular, it describes the Parliament’s position vis-à-vis the executive in both the parliamentary and presidential systems and under civilian autocracy and military authoritarianism in pre- and post-restoration periods. Since independence in 1971, Bangladesh has undergone ten parliamentary elections, six of which were held under party government and considered flawed, allegedly rigged, or suffering legitimacy crises. The post-restoration parliamentary elections since 1991, however, were fair, free, and highly contested for two decades. But the fact remains that despite receiving a popular mandate none of the four parliaments can be described as components of a full-fledged and properly functioning electoral democracy. And with the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution enacted in 2008 removing the NCG provision and parliamentary elections due in 2018, the country again faces the fundamental challenge of how to hold credible and participatory national elections. Despite the success of the four elections under NCGs, Parliament has never been a focal point for policy decision-making or a forum for debating national and international issues and resolving national crises through deliberations. Executive dominance is a colonial legacy that still persists in state affairs and continues to be one of the core obstacles to parliamentary institutionalization in Bangladesh. This chapter presents a brief portrait of Bangladesh’s efforts to make the transition to democracy, the constraints it encountered, and continues to encounter, in the institutionalization process, and the measures taken to overcome them.


Bangladesh Germination of parliament Democratic transition Constitutional amendments Parliamentary elections Institutionalization Executive domination 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • A. T. M. Obaidullah
    • 1
  1. 1.Public AdministrationUniversity of RajshahiDhakaBangladesh

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