Political Culture in Bangladesh

Md. Saeed Anwar Sociology Discipline Khulna University

Political culture is a distinctive and patterned form of political philosophy that consists of beliefs on how governmental, political, and economic life should be carried out. It creates a framework for political change and are unique to nations, states, and other groups. Political culture refers to what people believe and feel about government, and how they think people should act towards it. (Ahmed, 1989).
Politics Politics is omnipresent… Rules are made and enforced in all human communities within the country. Robert Dahl is of the opinion that “Politics is any persistent pattern in human relationships that involves, to a significant extent, control, influence, power or authority.”

Political Culture
“Political culture”, it has been observed, “is one of the most popular and seductive in political science; it is also one of the most controversial and confused” Elkins and Simeon (1979:127). The term was first employed by Lenin and White in 1979. They used the term refer to the role of political education and mass media in the Soviet Union. Political culture can be defined as "The orientation of the citizens of a nation toward politics, and their perceptions of political legitimacy and the traditions of political practice," and the feelings expressed by individuals in the position of the elected offices that allow for the nurture of a political society. (Rahman, 2010)

University of Warwick." (Almond and Verba. These were seen as including knowledge and skills about the operation of the political system. or other groups within a political system with their own distinctive sets of values. ethnic. 1963) . Particular regional. Professor of Politics. attitudes. and evaluative judgments about the system.Wyn Grant. UK. positive and negative emotional feelings towards it. and beliefs were referred to as subcultures. and values which underpin the operation of a particular political system. defines political culture as “The attitudes. beliefs.” "The political culture of a nation is the particular distribution of patterns of orientation towards political objects among the members of the nation.

Characteristics of Political Culture Political scientist Sidney Verba. states. political. expressive symbols. and economic life should be carried out. . which defines the situation in which political action takes place. describes the characteristics of political culture as System of empirical beliefs. A political culture differs from political ideology in that people can disagree on an ideology (what government should do) but still share a common political culture. and other groups. It creates a framework for political change and are unique to nations. and values. Political culture is a distinctive and patterned form of political philosophy that consists of beliefs on how governmental.

The political culture of a nation is the particular distribution toward political objects among members of the nation” ( Gabriel and Verba. p. 13) . however. The political system as internalized in the cognition. and therefore embody different political culture as well.Some ideologies. are so critical of the status that they require a fundamental change in the way government is operated.1965. feelings and evolutions of its population.

.Where citizens are aware of central government. Subject .Where citizens are only remotely aware of the presence of central government. Participant . and live their lives near enough regardless of the decisions taken by the state. and are heavily subjected to its decisions with little scope for dissent.Types of Political Culture Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba outlined three pure types of political culture: Parochial .Citizens are able to influence the government in various ways and they are affected by it.

Individualism is not submerged in any way. but the group recognizes the need of individuals to assign value to the group. It need not have any direct concern with questions of the "good society. 2010). Government is instituted for largely utilitarian reasons. (BBC News. Individual Political Culture In areas with this type of political culture.” Government should be largely restricted to those areas which encourage private initiative. (BBC News. 2010). Politics is considered one of the great activities of man in the search for the "good society. Government tends to be seen as a positive force.Other Types of Political Culture There are also some types of political culture. . government is seen as having a very practical orientation. these are Moral Political Culture In this culture type society is held to be more important than the individual.

The cultural basis of Bangladesh has been formed by several religious traditions .Traditional Political Culture Social and family ties are prominent where this type of political culture is found. This reflects an older attitude that embraces a hierarchical society as part of the natural order of things. 2010). The Historical Roots of Political Culture The political culture of Bangladesh is an area which has hardly been explored.There is very little information about the prehistory of Bengal. (BBC News. (BBC News. 2010). This often means that some families run the government and others have little to say about it. .

Political Parties and their Culture Awami League formerly Awami Muslim League was established on June 23 in 1949. 1972). The Muslim league became a mass political party headed by charismatic leaders like M. .K Fazlul Haque. (Choudhury.A Jinnah and A. It is generally opposed to big business. Populism refers to any utopia espoused by some oppressed groups to transform a given condition of society through collective action on the assumption that the indigenous society is a natural and homogeneous community. In 1955 the word Muslim was dropped from the nomenclature. The BNP was formed on September 1 in 1978.Thus the political ideologies in Bangladesh have mainly assumed populist forms.

There is none in the two parties dare speak against any decision of the party chairman or president even it goes wrong. most of the citizens still live far below the poverty line.Jatiyo Party and Jamat-E Islam are the another political parties. Rather dictatorship in running party affairs seems getting stronger day by day than democracy. economic injustice coupled with lawlessness and corruption have put the country on the brink of a total chaos. (Rahman. 2010). but the two parties have not been seen making any effort to practice democracy. while a few have been enjoying an economic boom. . Democracy has remained in the paper. Both the parties have become quite old and matured.

and declared independence on March 26th 1971 in Chittagong.Political Culture of Bangladesh History of Political Culture of Bangladesh Provisional Government Bangladesh's first government took oath of office in Meherpur. Kushtia on April 10. .The Bangladesh Forces was set up and organized under 11 Sectors to conduct all operations pertaining towards independence from Pakistan under the leadership of the Sector and Brigade commanders. after Major Ziaur Rahman initiated the first revolt with his battalion against a brutal five division army crackdown on the local people of Bangladesh. 1971. 2013).(Moazzem.

2009 to present: The third Awami League regime 1971-75: The Mujib era 2006-09: Caretaker government 1977-81: The Zia regime 2001-06: Coalition government headed by the BNP 1982-91:The Ershad regime 1996-2000: The se"ond Awami League regime 1991-96: The Bangladesh Nationalist Party BNP! regime .

(Background Note. socialism. and a unicameral legislature.Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 2008) . 2008) The new constitution. (Background Note. (Background Note. which came into force in 16 December 1972. and democracy. secularism. an independent judiciary. created a strong executive prime minister. a largely ceremonial presidency. (1972-75) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to administrative center with immense personal popularity but had difficulty transforming this popular support into the political strength needed to function as head of government. 2008) The 1972 constitution adopted as state policy the Awami League's (AL) four basic principles of nationalism.

Mujib used his parliamentary majority to win a constitutional amendment limiting the powers of the legislative and judicial branches. (Background Note. 2008).The first parliamentary elections held under the 1972 constitution were in 7 March 1973. After proclaiming a state of emergency. and instituting a one-party system. establishing an executive presidency. the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL). (Background Note. 2008). with the Awami League winning a massive majority. which all members of Parliament (and senior civil and military officials) were obliged to join. .

Lifting the ban on political parties from Mujib's one party BAKSAL rule. 2008). Sayem dissolved Parliament. promising fresh elections in 1977. 2008). He pledged the army's support to the civilian government headed by President Chief Justice Sayem.Ziaur Rahman. . Acting at Zia's behest. 2008). to begin new economic development programs. (1975-81) Successive military coups resulted in the emergence of Army Chief of Staff General Ziaur Rahman ("Zia") as strongman. and instituted martial law. he sought to revitalize the demoralized bureaucracy. (Background Note. (Background Note. infrastructure buildup. a free press and to emphasize family planning. (Background Note.

Hussain Mohammed Ershad assumed power in the second. His greatest legacy on the people of Bangladesh was unity and self dependence.Zia invigorated a strong foreign policy based on sovereignty and economic independence. and economic mismanagement declared martial law. Gen. but. bloodless coup in March 24th 1982. (Background Note. 2008). 2008). To strenghthen his hold on government Ershad suspended the constitution and citing pervasive corruption. 2008). (Background Note. ineffectual government. Hussain Mohammed Ershad (1982-1990) Army Chief of Staff Lt. . (Background Note. He initiated many social programs to uplift the poor through honest hard work and education.

designed as Ershad's political vehicle for the transition from martial law. Ershad easily outdistanced the remaining candidates. 2008). was established. (Background Note.At the same time. Sheikh Hasina Wazed-lent the elections some credibility. 2008).(Background Note. estimated a far lower percentage and alleged voting irregularities. Although Ershad's government claimed a turnout of more than 50%. the Jatiya (People's) Party. 2008). taking 84% of the vote. (Background Note. opposition leaders. The Jatiya Party won a modest majority of the 300 elected seats in the national assembly. . despite widespread charges of voting irregularities. The participation of the Awami Leagueled by the late Prime Minister Mujib's daughter. and much of the foreign press.

(Background Note. with Khaleda Zia. led to an indefinite boycott of Parliament by the entire opposition. 2008). which the opposition claimed the government had rigged. 2008). controversy over a parliamentary by-election. widow of Ziaur Rahman. The opposition also began a program of repeated general strikes to press its demand that Khaleda Zia's government resign and a caretaker government supervise a general election. (Background Note. 2008). (Background Note. .Khaleda Zia. obtaining the post of prime minister. (1991-96) The center-right BNP won a plurality of seats and formed a government with support from the Islamic party Jamaat-I-Islami. In March 1994.

In March 1996. Khaleda Zia was re-elected by a landslide in voting boycotted and denounced as unfair by the three main opposition parties. 2008). (Background Note. The opposition. 2008). In February. following escalating political turmoil. pledged to boycott national elections scheduled for February 15. former Chief Justice Mohammed Habibur Rahman was named Chief Adviser (a position equivalent to prime minister) in the interim government. (Background Note. the sitting Parliament enacted a constitutional amendment to allow a neutral caretaker government to assume power and conduct new parliamentary elections. . demonstrations. and strikes in an effort to force the government to resign. including the Awami League's Sheikh Hasina. 1996.The opposition then continued a campaign of Marches.

(Background Note. and party president H. (Background Note. 2008). . The Jatiya Party never entered into a formal coalition arrangement. a very small leftist party. International and domestic election observers found the June 1996 election free and fair. which included one minister from the Jatiya Party and another from the Jatiyo Samajtantric Dal. Ershad withdrew his support from the government in September 1997. and ultimately. the BNP party decided to join the new Parliament. (1996-2001) Sheikh Hasina formed what she called a "Government of National Consensus" in June 1996.Sheikh Hasina.M. 2008).

Background Note. 2008). 2008). and boycotted Parliament. Background Note. .At the end of 1996. Despite her August 2001 pledge and all election monitoring groups declaring the election free and fair. Khaleda Zia. 2008). 1996 elections). second after the February 15. Begum Khaleda Zia was sworn in on October 10. (Background Note. as Prime Minister for the third time (first in 1991. Sheikh Hasina condemned the election. rejected the results. the BNP staged a parliamentary walkout over this and other grievances but returned in January 1997 under a four-point agreement with the ruling party. 2001. (2001-2006) The four-party alliance led by the BNP won over a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

2008). 2005. lawyers. (Background Note. (Background Note. An extremist Islamist group named Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) claimed responsibility for the blasts and subsequent attacks on the courts in several districts killed 28 people. including judges. and police personnel guarding the courts.On August 17. . 2008). near-synchronized blasts of improvised explosive devices in 63 out of 64 administrative districts targeted mainly government buildings and killed two persons. (Background Note. A government campaign against the Islamic extremists led to the arrest of hundreds of senior and mid-level JMB leaders. 2008). Six top JMB leaders were tried and sentenced to death for their role in the murder of two judges.

(Background Note. who fomented nationwide protests and shutdowns.Caretaker Government (2006-2008) An Caretaker Government election was scheduled for the end of 2006. The caretaker government was accused of BNP bias by Hasina and her coalition. . 2008).000 people had been arrested. The government says it will hold elections before the end of 2008. many believe under pressure from the military. 2008). the head of the caretaker government stepped down. In January 2007. Fakhruddin Ahmed. however it did not take place. (Background Note. Emergency law was declared and a massive campaign to crack down on corruption is underway. former World Bank economist. was selected to replace Yazuidin Ahmed and has committed himself to rooting out corruption and preparing a better voter list. By July 2007 some 200.

Her term of office began in January. Bangladesh Awami League won 230 out of 299 constituencies. and together with its allies. . (Background Note. 2008). 2009. According to the Official Results. The Awami League and its allies received 57% of the total votes cast. 2008 as part of a larger electoral alliance that also included the Jatiya Party led by former military ruler General Ershad as well as some leftist parties. had a total of 262 parliamentary seats. (Background Note. Sheikh Hasina. as party head. compared to 36% of the other major alliance led by the BNP which by itself got 33% of the votes.Sheikh Hasina 2009-Present: The Awami league won national election on December 29. is the new Prime Minister. 2008). The AL alone got 48%.

the Awami League government faced several major political challenges. (Background Note. Matia Chowdhury (Agriculture Minister) and Dr. Younger MPs with a link to assassinated members of the 1972-1975 AL government are Syed Ashraful Islam. including three women in prominent positions: Dr Dipu Moni (Foreign Minister). 2008) . son of Tajuddin Ahmad. Halmark and Padma bridge corruption. Judicial achievements for the party included restoring 1972 constitution (set by the first Awami League government). son of Syed Nazrul Islam. unrest in garments industry and stock market fluctuations. • Since 2009. 1994). power crisis. and guilty verdicts in 1975 assassination or murder trial. Destiny. beginning of war crimes trials. son of Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni. Sheikh Taposh. (Dahl. Serin Sarmin Choudhory speaker of Bangladesh Parliament. and Sohel Taj (but he is not at present his position).• The current cabinet has several new faces. including BDR (border security force) mutiny.

2008). Critical Aspect of Political Culture in Bangladesh The basic rights like freedom of speech. labor and capital.(Background Note. right to jobs available locally and rights to justice are now subject to political connection in Bangladesh because all government and autonomous bodies are heavily politicized. and 36% gave the government a favorable rating.According to the Nielsen 2 year survey. 50% felt the country was moving in the right direction. In our country politicians do not practice democracy within their parties . Political power primarily originates from the control over land. Bangladesh has had a very poor tradition of growing leadership through democratic practices in the parties.

which they don’t want to lose in any case. If there is any offensive activities in the society. the political identity of the offenders becomes the major factor for judgment. and unchallenged dictating power. Being the President or the Chairperson. Though there are provisions in the constitution of the parties for selecting and electing party leaders in each tier. .Since immoral anti-social elements in the society in most cases are linked to some political sections. 1972). Party and family in the context of Bangladesh politic have been synonymous to most of the common people. Judgment goes in favor of who are politically more powerful in the society. even to the party activists. law is easily violated and justice system broken. Patron-client relation between the powerful moneyed people and the political parties is evident in the Bangladesh political culture. (Choudhury. the party chiefs enjoy supreme authority. For example : Mujjib and Zia families. these provisions are hardly followed.

hate can not remove hatred. We know that every action has a reaction. central party office of the opposition BNP was raided by police. bad political culture may bring adverse consequences. In addition. negative and damaging political cultures. Similarly. We could not go where we wanted to go.Conclusion The fate of Bangladeshis depends on two political parties. A major problem of politics is that the government leaders do not mean what they say. So. Before the general election they present various agenda related to people's welfare. We have to come out from this culture if we want to start nation building politics. People of ruling party always get privilege. We better keep it in mind that darkness cannot remove darkness. the Awami League and the BNP. They consider everything politically. It is 42 years since Bangladesh became independent. but after election they forget everything and seek only self-interest. the real democracy and acute disparity of economy were the main spirits of the liberation war of Bangladesh. The recent political violence in the country has claimed 60 lives including six policemen. Finally. Our all achievements are being diminished due to hostile. .

www. Saidur. Bangladesh. 2008. Gabriel A.References Almond. International Publications Limited from Tropicana Tower (4th floor). 1996. Modern Political Analysis 5th edition (Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall. GPO Box : 2526 Dhaka. Department of General and Continuing Education. Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (March 2008). 2013. Bangladesh Robert Dahl (Yale University). Ahmed. G. Sidney. The Future of Democratic Theory .1000 Rahman. (April 1972). International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs) Rahman Md. Bangladesh hangs killers of independence leader Mujib – BBC “BBC News. North South University. Verba. Wikipedia. Emajuddin. 1965. 27 January 2010.. S. 2010. 2013 . 45. 1989. Institutionalization of Democracy in the Political Parties in Bangladesh Does culture matter? North South University. Institutionalization of Democracy in the Political Parties in Bangladesh Does culture matter?. 2010. Topkhana Road. Dahl. The Civic Culture. Moazzem Hossain. "Background Note: Bangladesh".com. W. 2008. Robert. "Bangladesh: Why It Happened". Accessed June 11. 1991): 4 Choudhury. Society and Politics in Bangladesh.