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Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament)

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Jatiya Sangsad / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 29 December 2008
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament.
On 20 September 2008 the head of the military-backed caretaker government Mr. Fakhruddin Ahmed announced that elections would be held on 18 December 2008. On 3 November the caretaker government relaxed the state of emergency that had been in place since January 2007 lifting the restrictions on political gatherings. It also announced that it would withdraw thousands of troops from emergency duties prior to the 2008 elections and hand over power to the elected government as of 1 January 2009. Protests from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) some of whose key members were serving prison terms under emergency rules led the elections to be postponed to 29 December.

In the previous elections held in October 2001 the BNP won 193 of the 300 seats at stake. The Awami League (AL) led by outgoing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took 62 seats. The remainder went to independent candidates and small parties. The BNP subsequently formed a coalition government with the Bangladesh Jamaytee Islami (Bangladesh Islamic Block) Islami Oikya Jote (Islamic Unity Front) and Jatiya Party (National Party) (Naziur). Constitutional amendments in 2004 increased the statutory number of seats in parliament from 300 to 345 adding 45 seats reserved for women (see note 1).

On 27 October 2006 Parliament was dissolved with a view to holding general elections on 22 January 2007. On 30 October 2006 the government of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia (BNP) was replaced by a caretaker government led by President Iajuddin Ahmed (BNP) and tasked with overseeing the elections.

The caretaker system had been introduced in 1991 after military-backed president Hossain Mohammad Ershad was toppled by street protests led jointly by BNP leader Zia and Amami League leader Sheikh Hasina. These two women have dominated the country's politics ever since. The Constitution requires the caretaker government to be neutral and non-partisan in order to organize free and fair elections. In 2006 concerns were raised over whether the caretaker government led by President Ahmed would indeed be neutral.

An AL-led 15-party alliance demanded Mr. Ahmed's removal as head of the caretaker government and the establishment of a new voters' list. Its demands were accompanied by violent demonstrations. On 3 January 2007 the alliance announced that it would boycott the elections along with the Jatiya Party and the Liberal Democratic Party.

On 11 January President Ahmed postponed the elections declared a state of emergency and stepped down as head of the caretaker government. Mr. Fakhruddin Ahmed a former head of the central bank was appointed the following day to lead the government with the backing of the military. President Ahmed's term which was due to end in September 2007 was extended in May 2007 by the caretaker government until an elected Parliament could appoint his successor.

Under the caretaker government more than 150 politicians and civil servants were arrested. They included former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Zia who were arrested on corruption charges in July and September 2007 respectively. The former was detained in a special prison on Parliament's premises until June 2008 when she was released on medical grounds. In September 2008 Ms. Zia was released from prison on bail for a period of three months. Although the corruption charges against them were maintained until the 2008 elections both were allowed to run in the elections.

Nearly 2 500 candidates from more than 30 parties were vying for the 300 popularly elected seats at stake (the other 45 seats would be filled with women following the formation of the new government). The elections once again saw a duel between the AL and the BNP.

The BNP led a four-party alliance promising to lower food prices and create jobs. It also called for an immediate end to emergency rule and urged the government to withdraw corruption charges against its members.

The AL led a "Grand Alliance" comprising 15 parties. Its leader Sheikh Hasina also urged the immediate end of the emergency rule so the elections would be free and fair. She pledged to provide healthcare for all rid the country of illiteracy and help the poor by lowering the prices of essential goods. 86 per cent of the country's 150 million inhabitants reportedly live on less than US$ 2 a day.

The head of the caretaker government vowed to ensure that the polls were free fair and credible. The state of emergency was lifted on 17 December.

On 29 December a record 87.13 per cent of the 81 million registered voters turned out at the polls. The European Union (EU) monitored the polls and concluded that the elections had been credible and transparent and reflected "the will of the people of Bangladesh".

The final results gave 263 seats to the AL-led alliance of which 230 went to the AL. The BNP took 30 seats and its allies three (see note 2). The remainder went to independent candidates. Nineteen women were elected.

Ms. Zia conceded defeat while other BNP members insisted that their supporters were kept from voting.

Members of parliament were sworn in on 3 January 2009. On 6 January Sheikh Hasina (AL) became Prime Minister for the second time and formed a new government on the same day officially terminating the mandate of the caretaker government.

Note 1:
In September 2005 these reserved seats were attributed to the political parties represented in parliament in proportion to each party's performance in the 2001 election. The Awami League insisted that new elections should be organized for these new seats and did not endorse any candidates for the nine seats to which it was entitled. The seats were filled by the BNP and three other parties in October 2005.

Note 2:
The breakdown of the seats won by the AL-led Alliance
Bangladesh Awami League: 230
Jatiya Party: 27
Jatiya Samajtantric Dal-Jasad (National Socialist Party): 3
Bangladesh Workers Party: 2
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP): 1

The breakdown of seats won by the BNP-led alliance
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP): 30
Bangladesh Jamaytee Islami: 2
Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP): 1
Voter turnout
Round no 129 December 2008
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
70'647'508 (87.13%)
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total
Bangladesh Awami League (AL) 230
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) 30
Jatiya Party (National Party) (Naziur) 27
Independents 4
Jatiya Samajtantric Dal-Jasad 3
Bangladesh Jamaytee Islami (Bangladesh Islamic Block) 2
Bangladesh Workers Party 2
Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP) 1
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Nineteen women were directly elected in the December 2008 elections.

In accordance with the constitutional amendment (Fifteenth Amendment Act) passed by parliament on 30 June 2011 the number of seats reserved for women in parliament has increased from 45 to 50 bringing the total number of seats to 350. On 17 October the Election Commission announced that all five seats would be attributed to the Bangladesh Awami League (AL). The five additional members were sworn in on 15 December 2011.

Parliament (14.01.2009 21.03.2009 17.01.2012)
Election Commission (24.03.2009)

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