chapter  1
11 Pages

Bangladeshi Politics Since Independence

WithSarah Tasnim Shehabuddin

This chapter traces how Bangladesh’s inheritance of weak institutions at the time of independence has fueled the expansion of patronage networks, manipulation of institutions for political gain, and intense competition over economic and political resources. It explores the impact of institutional weakness on democratic commitment and political instability during different episodes of Bangladesh’s history: Bangladesh’s first democratic experiment from 1972 to 1975; military rule from 1975 to 1990, and civilian rule from 1991 to the present. Bangladesh is one of the few Muslim-majority countries to have sustained procedural democracy for a significant period of time and has been upheld as a model for other developing countries due to its gains in human development, but has also drawn attention because of the intensity of its conflictual politics. Kiren Chaudhry has argued that post-colonial states often struggle to build responsive political institutions, because these would threaten entrenched interests and require financial and administrative resources that such states usually lack.