Bangladesh Elections 2018

Bangladesh will hold its 11th parliamentary elections on December 30, a vote that many say will be a litmus test for democracy in the South Asian nation.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose tenure has seen widespread allegations of rights abuses and creeping authoritarianism, is seeking a third consecutive term in office.

Hasina’s chief rival is two-time former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who heads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), but she is barred from contesting the elections because of a corruption conviction.

The BNP is banking on the newly formed opposition alliance, Jatiya Oikya Front (National Unity Front), which is being led by a secular icon and former foreign minister Kamal Hossain.

Concerns over free and fair voting

The 2014 elections were boycotted by the BNP as unfair and shunned by international observers as “an electoral farce”. More than half the seats had remained uncontested, giving the ruling Awami League (AL) a walkover.

As they head to the elections without Zia, BNP leaders have accused the government of using state power to intimidate its leaders by filing cases against them.

Violence is common around elections in Bangladesh. At least six people have been killed in poll-related violence so far.

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the international community to press the Bangladeshi government to create conditions for a free and fair election.

Infographic: Bangladesh at a glance

Infographic: How the Bangladesh elections work

Infographic: Major parties and alliances

Bangladesh since 1971


Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is arrested following an election win for the Awami League, which West Pakistan refuses to recognise, leading to riots.
On March 26, AL declares East Pakistan's independence from West Pakistan and names the new country Bangladesh


Mujib returns from detention in Pakistan and becomes PM


Mujib assassinated in a military coup, martial law imposed


Martial law lifted, General Ziaur Rahman’s BNP wins


Zia assassinated in an aborted military coup


General Ershad takes power in a military coup, the constitution is suspended


Ershad elected for 5-year-term in general elections


State of emergency declared after opposition protests


Ershad steps down, is jailed for corruption later


Khaleda Zia becomes PM, the constitution is changed to make president’s post ceremonial


Awami League returns to power with Hasina as PM


Hasina becomes first PM to complete 5-year term, loses polls to BNP’s Zia


Parliament amends the constitution to reserve 45 seats for women, Hasina survives grenade attack at an opposition rally that kills 22


January election is suspended by President following violence, Hasina is charged with murder while Zia is put under house arrest


Awami League captures more than 250 of 300 seats in parliament in the December elections


Hasina takes over as PM in January


Key leaders of top Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, charged with war crimes for collaboration with Pakistan in 1971


Dhaka High Court bans Jamaat-e-Islami from participating in elections


BNP boycotts parliamentary election, Hasina returns for a third term in office


A massive Rohingya exodus from Myanmar begins in August, UN says a million given shelter in Bangladesh


Zia sentenced to ten years in jail, banned from contesting the election