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Parliamentary Democracy in Bangladesh

Democracy is a continuous political process which can only be sustained and developed by giving due attention to certain issues. It is never completely achieved; it grows into its being.[1] During the nineteenth century followed by industrial revolution and expansion of capitalism, democracy took off as a major political and social process based on maturing British and American model of democracy. Subsequently, after the end of the Second World War, most of the states of the Latin America, Central Europe and Asia have become liberated from the clutch of the colonial rule and they have gradually been turned into democratic political system. Like other countries of the contemporary world, Bangladesh after having been independent from the internal colonialism of Pakistan, adopted the parliamentary democracy as the political system enshrined in the constitution. Since then, we have passed about thirty-eight years but our achievements in the sphere of democracy and development are not noteworthy.
In Bangladesh every political leader or party, civil or military, popular or unpopular, big or small, in or out of power, talk about democracy incessantly, but they never practice it either in personal life or within party’s proceedings. Even so the nation has failed to put it into practice. Parties voted into power to strengthen democracy have all failed to encourage its values. Taking advantage of this situation, military leaders intervened to practice their own version of democracy, which only exacerbated the crisis. The country today is riddle with numerous problems threatening the very development of democracy. Our society with an under developed political culture and poverty ridden illiterate and incompetent masses is lacking democratic political organizations, institutions and practices. Despite these, there is much prospects for democracy in Bangladesh which is marked by people’s eagerness to democratic norms, values and progress, marching toward a two party system and realization by politicians that there is no way but election to capture state’s power. This paper consists of six sections. Following the introductory section, section two develops a conceptual framework on democracy covering meaning and concept of democracy, forms of democracy, basic principles of democracy and major prerequisites of the proper functioning of democracy. Section three attempts to examine the current state of democracy in Bangladesh. Section four analyzes the cardinal problems in the path of institutionalization of democracy in Bangladesh. Section five analyzes prospects of flourishing democracy in Bangladesh. Section six provides concluding remarks and a set of recommendations for the institutionalization of democracy in Bangladesh.

[1] MacIver, R.M. Modern State, New York, 1935, p.364
The Author is grateful to professor Dr. Harun-or-Rashid and Dr. Sabbir Ahmed for their valuable suggestions on this paper.