Bangladesh’s parliament was scheduled to meet today to vote for the next President of the country. However, as the only
Bangladesh’s parliament was scheduled to meet today to vote for the next President of the country.
However, as the only nominated candidate by the close of the nomination period, election authorities declared Mohammed Shahabuddin—the ruling Awami League (AL) party nominee—President-elect on February 13. As a largely ceremonial office, the President assents all bills passed by the AL-dominated parliament where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling party holds 304 of the 350 seats. The absolute majority allows AL unfettered power to advance its legislative agenda as it can also override a theoretical presidential veto.
This effectively renders Bangladesh a one-party state. That no other candidate was put forward by other parties reflects the fact there is no real opposition to AL in parliament. Crackdowns on key opposition leaders have been ongoing since the last election in 2018. In 2014, AL overturned the constitutional precedent of independent caretaker governments overseeing elections. Its control of the Police has also led to major crackdowns on the opposition amid widespread claims of vote rigging in both the 2014 and 2018 elections.
Given AL’s institutional dominance of key constitutional arms of the state, expect further crackdowns on opposition candidates and political protests leading up to those polls.