The people of Bangladesh have cast their votes in the 11th parliamentary election to elect a new parliament on 30th December. This election is unique because it is the first participatory election in a decade. This election will further strengthen democratic culture in the country, as it will be a third successive transition in Bangladesh’s political history. However, the behaviour of the contesting parties before and during elections – as reports of violence marring the electoral process are in abundance – make it difficult to predict if the transition will take place smoothly.

The political analysts have already predicted an easy win for Awami League (AL) – the current ruling party. Nevertheless, AL is under severe criticism for its authoritarian style of governance, and its firm handed dealing of opposition candidates. The media reports suggest that the ruling party did not allow the opposition candidates a level playing field. Furthermore, some independent observers have also pointed out the questionable role of the Election Commission.

Moreover, the ruling party while targeting the opposition is acting in a paranoid manner. The lesser numbers of observers as compared to their numbers in previous elections and curtailment of media freedoms also suggest that the ruling party is keen on rigging the mandate of the people. All such actions on the part of the ruling party give credence to the allegations of the opposition that it has hurled against Sheikh Hasina’s government.

While the ruling party tried to convince the population to vote for them for making the country’s economy stable, opposition wanted to win the hearts and minds of the voters by promising freedom of expression, the creation of new jobs and better wages. Nevertheless, the conduct of the opposition – a coalition of many parties, Bangladesh National Party (BNP) being one of the coalition parties, whose chairwoman is already behind bars over corruption charges – once results are announced will determine the political stability of the country.