Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina secures 4th term in polls, wins 223 out of 299 seats

Hasina is poised to become the longest-serving prime minister in Bangladesh

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a rally during an election campaign in Sylhet on December 20, 2023 | AFP

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has secured a record fourth straight term as her Awami League party won an overwhelming majority in the general elections marred by sporadic violence and a boycott by the main opposition BNP and its allies.

Hasina's party won 223 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. Election was held for 299 seats. The election to one seat will be held later due to the death of a candidate, according to media reports.

The main opposition in Parliament, the Jatiya Party, got 11 seats, Bangladesh Kallyan party won in one constituency while independent candidates came out victorious in 62 seats. Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and the Workers Party of Bangladesh won one seat each.

Hasina, 76. also the president of Awami League, won the Gopalganj-3 constituency in a landslide victory, her eighth term as a Member of Parliament.

Hasina, who has been ruling the strategically located South Asian nation since 2009, secured a record fourth consecutive term and fifth overall term in the one-sided election, which witnessed the second-lowest turnout since the restoration of democracy in 1991.

The turnout in the controversial February 1996 polls was 26.5 per cent, the lowest in Bangladesh's history.

The turnout in Sunday's election was 27.15 per cent at 3:00 pm, but after voting closed at 4:00 pm, the Election Commission estimated the final tally could stand at around 40 per cent, a 13 per cent jump in an hour.

With this win, Hasina is poised to become the longest-serving prime minister in Bangladesh since independence.

Former premier Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which boycotted the election and observed a strike on election day, said the party plans to intensify its anti-government movement through a peaceful public engagement programme from Tuesday as it dubbed the polls as "fake."

The BNP boycotted the 2014 election but joined the one in 2018. This time, they boycotted the polls. Fifteen other political parties also boycotted the election.

The party leaders claimed that the low turnout was evidence that their boycott movement had been successful. They said that peaceful democratic protest programmes will be accelerated, and the people's right to vote will be established through this programme.

Voters showed little interest in the outcome of Sunday's polls -- a race between Awami League candidates and Awami League "independents".

Following BNP's boycott threat in the lead-up to the election, the Hasina administration undertook a series of strategies that allegedly included creating pressure.

Ahead of the elections, Hasina's government arrested tens of thousands of rival politicians and supporters, a move which rights groups have condemned as an attempt to paralyse the Opposition.

Hasina went for a tight-fisted seat-sharing with the Jatiya Party and other allies and invited all her party leaders and activists to join the race as independent candidates to make the election look participatory and competitive.

But unexpected victories of these independent candidates have significantly altered the political landscape, hinting at a new era of internal competition within the ruling party itself.

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader claimed that the people have rejected the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami's boycott of the election by casting their ballots.

"I sincerely thank those who braved the fear of vandalism, arson, and terrorism to participate in the 12th national parliamentary elections, Quader said.

Despite the largely peaceful voting, officials and the mainstream media reported at least 18 arson attacks across the country since late Friday, with 10 of them targeting polling places.

As Bangladesh steps into this new term under the Awami League's governance, the reshaping of the Opposition poses critical questions about the future of the country's parliamentary dynamics and political balance, bdnews newspaper said.

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