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Parliament of Bangladesh: Constitutional Position and Contributions

Chowdhury, M Jashim Ali

Authors



Contributors

Ridwanul Hoque
Editor

Rokeya Chowdhury
Editor

Abstract

At the end of British colonial rule in 1947, Bangladesh became a part of Pakistan. It declared independence in March 1971, fought a nine-month-long war, and emerged as an independent state in December 1971. At independence, Bangladesh adopted the Westminster parliamentary system of government. Like their subcontinental forerunners in India and Pakistan, the framers of the Bangladesh Constitution had a natural orientation towards the Westminster traditions. The Pakistani military’s authoritarian, presidential, and “internal colonial rule” also contributed to that preference. However, the fifty years of Bangladesh’s political history recorded a roller coaster ride through a one-party regime (1972–1975) followed by several phases of direct or indirect military rule (1975–1990 and 2006–2007), a phase of “competitive authoritarian governance” by two rival political parties (1991–2006), and, lastly, the one-party monopoly (2014-present).

The political constitutionalism that followed Bangladesh’s independence was highly executive-minded. The constitution-making and the state-building process were heavily conditioned by the charismatic leadership of the country’s founder President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bangabandhu). Although the Constitution preferred a cabinet government drawn from, and responsible to, the parliament, the parliament did not get as much importance as a typical Westminster parliament deserved. The political forces perceived the legislature as a deliberative forum and an enabling, rather than accountability, institution. This chapter tries to make sense of this trivialisation of the legislative branch by referring to Bangladesh Parliament’s Three Eastminster Traits that distinguish its position and stature from its Westminster progenitor – the British Parliament. The Three Eastminster Traits are identified from what Kumarasingham calls the South Asian region’s “Five Eastminster Deviations” from the Westminster system.

Part 2 of the Chapter summarises the history of parliamentary politics in Bangladesh. Part 3 briefly outlines Kumarasingham’s “Five Eastminster Deviations” from the Westminster model and identifies the Three Eastminster Traits that constitute the focus of this chapter. Parts 4–6 then consider how those three deviations – the dynastic and hereditary rule of political selection, absence of internal party democracy, and the brute majoritarian politics – weaken the Bangladesh parliament’s constitutional position and limit its contribution to the country’s constitutionalism. Part 7 concludes the chapter by summing up the findings.

Citation

Chowdhury, M. J. A. (2023). Parliament of Bangladesh: Constitutional Position and Contributions. In R. Hoque, & R. Chowdhury (Eds.), A History of the Constitution of Bangladesh: The Founding, Development, and Way Ahead (145-160). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003276814-12

Acceptance Date Jun 14, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 1, 2023
Publication Date Sep 1, 2023
Deposit Date Aug 2, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 2, 2025
Publisher Routledge
Pages 145-160
Series Title Comparative Constitutional Change
Book Title A History of the Constitution of Bangladesh: The Founding, Development, and Way Ahead
Chapter Number 9
ISBN 9781032233291
DOI https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003276814-12
Public URL https://hull-repository.worktribe.com/output/4347676
Publisher URL https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003276814-12/parliament-bangladesh-jashim-ali-chowdhury

Files

This file is under embargo until Mar 2, 2025 due to copyright reasons.

Contact J.Chowdhury@hull.ac.uk to request a copy for personal use.



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