Paradox of Reforms: A Reflection on Present State of Democracy and Parliament

  • A. T. M. Obaidullah


In the first two decades of independence, the Bangladesh Parliament did not enjoy the confidence of the public because of fraudulent electoral processes under civil and military authoritarianism. Parliament could not be institutionalized due to frequent breaches of constitutional rule. After deposing the military autocracy in 1990, Bangladesh underwent significant constitutional and political transformation. Elections to Parliament in the post-restoration period were highly contested, and the participatory electoral process was considered transparent and credible. A series of reforms to Parliament and the Secretariat was carried out to address shortcomings that continued to prevent a fully functioning and institutionalized parliamentary democracy from being a reality in Bangladesh. Institutionalization of parliament and consolidation of democracy in any country are long and complicated processes, requiring decades or sometimes longer. Free and fair elections in themselves do not guarantee the success of these processes if simultaneous development does not take place in other areas. This chapter evaluates the extent to which the institutionalization of Parliament and consolidation of democracy in Bangladesh have been successful in the two decades that have passed since the reform initiatives. It discusses the opinions of a selection of MPs from the current ruling party AL, as well as former BNP MPs, who were interviewed by the author on the issue of Parliament’s level of institutionalization and its contribution to democratic consolidation. Exponential analysis reveals that popularly elected governments in Bangladesh did not pay attention to safeguarding the civil liberties of their citizens or enforcing the rule of law, which has a telling effect on democracy. This chapter makes an effort to locate the present standing of Bangladeshi democracy against the framework of global democracies.


Democracy Typology of democracy Democratic consolidation Institutionalization of Parliament and democracy Rule of law Civil liberty 


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Authors and Affiliations

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

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