The government estimated in 1988 that there were 102 different political parties in Bangladesh. The majority of these parties were based solely in urban areas and had tiny constituencies. Many of them were formed by small cliques of like-minded intellectuals or by political leaders who, with their small followings, had broken away from larger political groups. There was a steady turnover in the composition of the smaller fringe groups, which nevertheless continued to organize periodic demonstrations and issue press releases. Amid the welter of conflicting groups, there were five main political forces in the country that had long histories or some claim to support from wide constituencies. At the center in 1988 was the pro-government Jatiyo Party. Opposing it were two centrist parties, the Awami League, led by Mujib's daughter, Hasina, and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Khaleda Zia. To the left were the pro-Soviet Bangladesh Communist Party, factions of the Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal, and other socialist groups advocating revolutionary change. To the right was a group of parties, including Jamaat e Islami and the Muslim League, that called for an increased role for Islam in public life. All of the minor political parties in Bangladesh clustered around the policies and the activities of these five main political forces.
|Country Studies main page | Bangladesh Country Studies main page|