chapter  5
17 Pages

Political Parties, Elections, and the Party System

ByAli Riaz

Political parties, in the words of Max Weber, are ‘the children of democracy’. Election Commission records show that number of political parties contesting elections has grown significantly since 1973 when only 14 parties participated. The strengths of some parties may lie in their ability to articulate popular aspirations and their capacity to mobilize supporters and sympathizers at critical moments of political events, even if they do not do well in electoral politics. The tendency became significant from 1976, initially at the prodding of the military regime as it embarked on founding a political party, but the record has not been significantly different during the civilian regime, particularly after 1991. Voting patterns show that the Bangladeshi electorate favors a competitive election, although their choices have created a de facto two-party system. The presence of a large number of political parties of different ideological persuasions is a positive element of the system.