Bangladesh: 1991 Elections

Pre poll Stats
Seats contested by various parties:
    Party        BNP       AL         JP         JI        Zaker Party
    Seats        299        263        270        221            247

The AL's figure doesn't show the 37 seats for which the AL did not contest as they were allocated to its allies in the 8-party alliance.
Initially, the publicity of the Zaker Party had caused a lot of concerns. Fortunately it did not win a single seat.

Initial Results: [for 300 seats]

Party 	BNP	AL	AL-allies	JP	JI
Seats	140	88	11		35	18

Popular vote distribution:

Percent		31%	28%	12%	6%

The AL figure does not take into consideration those votes that might have gone to it had AL contested in all the seats. In first-past-the- post political systems a slim plurality in the popular vote often translates into an overwhelming majority. I am ambivalent about this sytem. It is statistically possible for a party to win a majority in parliament even if another party received a majority of the popular votes. But systems like proportional representation often leads to ineffectual and split parliament. [aka Israel]. In certain countries the if a candidate fails to receive a majority of votes, then the top two candidates face off in another election. I am not too sure whether this would be applicable to Bangladesh because of prohibitive costs.

From the distribution it can be concluded that BNP's support is more evenly distributed. Even though it received only 3% more votes than the AL, it appears that in most constituencies tha BNP candidate received just enough votes to win.

The JI an JP figures appear to look alright. But a closer look brings up some interesting conclusions.

Popular Vote by Geographic divisions ( In Percentage )

Major Parties      Rajshahi	Khulna       Dhaka       Chittagong
   BNP		   26	        27           39          31
   AL		   25		32	     35		 31
   JP		   16		 8	      8		 15
   JI		   20		16	     n/a	  7
source : The Daily Star, March 2, 1991.

In Rajshahi and Chittagong BNP and AL are evenly split. In Dhaka BNP outpolls AL. A major factor in the election had been the overwhelming support for BNP from the urban population. The figure for Dhaka might have ben significantly affected by the city of Dhaka. AL appears to have a bigger pull in Khulna division.

Interestingly, the four parties are extremely close in Rajshahi division. Both JP and JI doing quite well in the division at the expense of AL and BNP. JP's figures can be attributed to Ershad's originssl domicile being in Rangpur. There also appears to be sifnificant fundamentalist segment in the northern districts.

JI did worst in Chittagong, which is usually considered it's stronhold. The militancy of JI in the region might have caused voter disaffection. If this is so, it shows significant electoral maturity. Strongly religious people will not neccessarily vote for JI. JP on the other hand did well in Chittagong. There are quite a lot of JP support in Chittagong city. Both these parties have fared poorly in Khulna and Dhaka divisions.

Further conclusions might be derivable if we look at district wise seat distribution.

Seats won by districts:

	BNP : Bangladesh Nationalist Party
	AL  : Awami League
	JP  : Jatiyo Partay
	JI  : Jamaat-e-Islami
	O   : Others
	I   : Independents

Greater District	BNP     AL      JP      JI      O       I
Dinajpur		1       6       0	1	3	0
Rangpur			0	3	17	0  	2	0
Bogra			8	0	0	1	0	0
Rajshahi		9	5	1	3	0	0
Pabna			9	1	0	2	0	0
Kushtia			5	2	0	1	0	0
Jessore 		5	8	0	1	0	0
Khulna			3	6	0	11	0	0
Barisal			6	6	1	0	2	0
Patuakhali		1	5	0	0	0	1
Mymensingh		17	12	2	0	0	0
Tangail			5	1	1	0	0	0
Dhaka			33	2	0	0	0	0
Faridpur		1	16	0	0	2	0
Sylhet			1	7	8	0	3	0
Comilla			17	2	4	0	0	1
Noakhali		6	2	1	0	0	0
Chittagong		13	5	0	0	0	0
CHT			0	3	0	0	0	0

Comments :

BNP appears to have done quite well in a belt NW->SE starting from Rajshahi-Bogra to Chittagong. It completely overwhelmed opposition in Dhaka and Chittagong, both of which have large urban population. Comilla, Mymensingh and Bogra appears to be strongholds of BNP.. Bogra is under- standable since Ziaur Rahman was a BNP guy. BNP fared poorly in Sylhet, CHT, Faridpur,Khulna and Dinajpur.

AL seemed to have an hey-day in Faridpur, the home district of Mujibur Rahman. It also did well in Sylhet, Patuakhali and took all the seats in CHT. JP took Rangpur and fared extremely well in Sylhet, getting most representatives from there. Rangpur being the home district of Ershad is explanabale. Most of the established Sylheti politicians/businessmen had put their lot with Ershad during his regime.

JI did not get any seats east of Jamnuna/Padmna divide. It fared well in the western and southern regions, especially in Khulna.

The home districts of each party leader almost always went to that party.

The Final Result: 330 Seats
Party Seats
Bangladesh Nationalist Party 168
Awami League 88
Jatiya Party 35
Jamaat-e-Islami 20
Communist Party of Bangladesh 5
National Awami Party [Muzaffar] 5
Workers Party 1
Jatiyo Samajtantrik Party [Siraj] 1
Ganotantri Party 1
Islami Oikya Jote 1
National Democratic Party 1
Independents 3