Bangladesh claims host to literally hundreds of political parties, most of which lie outside of the modern governmental structure. Situated as a parliamentary democracy, two main rival political parties have claimed the majority of power since Bangladesh independence in 1971. In addition to the main two party system, several other political parties cover the full spectrum of political ideology; from far-left communism to far-right fundamentalism
The two main political parties in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party, share a tumultuous history, not unlike the country they represent. Compared to their immoderate beginnings, both political parties converged near the ideological center in recent years, yet the Bangladesh Awami League continues to hold the mantle for leftist and secular politics, while the Bangladesh Nationalist Party leads the conservative faction. Historically, the Bangladesh Awami League represents a nationalist force that broke away from Pakistan and set to create a sovereign nation. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party emphasizes a Bengali nationalism also, but through a Islamic and religious social lens.
Both leaders of the Bangladesh Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Movement political parties, descend from Bangladesh liberation leaders. Khaleda Zia, two-time Prime Minister and the first female to hold the position, heads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Sheikh Hasina, leader of the Bangladesh Awami league, currently holds the office of Prime Minister and recently started her second term. Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, respective leaders of the two strongest political parties in Bangladesh, have remained bitter enemies for several years.
Some other recognized political parties in Bangladesh include the moderate Jatiya Party (JP), the Islami Oikyo Jote focused on creating an Islamic Bangladesh, and the Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal founded on socialistic ideals. Regarding representational power, the Jatiya Party represents the third most prominent of the numerous political parties, but currently controls less than 10% of the parliament.
The constant five-year turnover of political power between the Bangladesh Awami League and Nationalist Movement adds to their perpetual rivalry. Each power-shift marks extreme political oppression of the losing party and demonstrations and parliamentary walkouts have become commonplace between the political parties. These confrontations occur regardless of the ruling party in Bangladesh and show a certain national direst towards opposition party politics. Control of national resources and state police forces exacerbates the continued hatred between political parties.
Bangladesh boasts open and free elections, but the way in which the opposing political parties attempt to obliterate the other when taking office disallows for a national unity when election season concludes. The Bangladesh Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Movement tend to monopolize their constituencies and fail to inspire a true national unity outside of partisan politics.