Sheikh Hasina, Awami League
|5 January 2014|
|Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban,
Sher-e-Bangla Nagor, Dhaka,
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Jatiyo Sangshad ("National Parliament"; Bengali: জাতীয় সংসদ Jatio Shôngshod), often referred to simply as the Sangshad or JS and also known as the House of the Nation, is the supreme legislative body of Bangladesh. The current parliament of Bangladesh contains 350 seats, including 50 seats reserved for women, which are apportioned on elected party position in the parliament. Elected occupants are called Members of Parliament or MP. The 10th National Parliamentary Election was held on January 5, 2014 and under normal conditions, elections are called every five years.
The leader of the party (or alliance of parties) holding the majority of seats becomes the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and the head of the government. The President of Bangladesh, the ceremonial head of state, is chosen by Parliament.
Article 66 of the Constitution makes membership open to any citizen of Bangladesh and only Bangladesh above the age of 25. (Dual citizenship is possible for civilians in Bangladesh, but not for MPs.)
Members are elected by direct polls in their respective constituencies. Whoever wins the most votes, regardless of turnout or proportion, wins the election. Members are elected for a term of 5 years; the entire Parliament dissolves 5 years after the swear-in. Members can be re-elected indefinitely. They may be independent or affiliated with a political party.
Members must not have served time in prison for more than 2 years to be eligible, unless they served this period five years prior to the elections.
Article 67 states that members absent without leave for 90 consecutive sitting days will lose their membership. Any ambiguity regarding membership will be resolved by the Bangladesh Election Commission. Attending sessions without being a member (even if memberships are cancelled in retrospect) is fined by a BDT1,000 ($14) fine per day, per Article 69.
- Resignation from the political party that nominated the member,
- Voting against the nominating party, or
- Abstaining from voting, either by abstention or absence, against the directive of the party Whip.
The only case of floor crossing in Bangladesh was when majority members M.A. Mannan and Mahi B. Chowdhury defected the Bangladesh National Party to form a new party, Bikolpo Dhara. Fresh by-elections were held soon after the seats were vacated. Mahi B. Chowdhury retained his seat under the new party, whereas Mannan failed.
Debate about the provision
As most candidates are elected by the funding, support and brand name of the party, resignation from the party is considered to void the choice of the people. The prime objective of banning floor crossing is to prevent members from joining other parties for personal gains. This is crucial in marginal majorities, where a few majority members voting against the majority essentially changes the government party in power.
The ban on floor crossing stunts the members from speaking out against bad policies pitched by their party. This is considered harmful for parliamentary democracy, as the ban forces members to agree with their party leaders regardless of their own opinions or the opinions of their constituents.
It is usually the custom for prominent politicians, especially party leaders. During the last election Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina, prominent AL figure (and later President of Bangladesh) Zillur Rahman, BNP leader Khaleda Zia and Jatiya Party leader H M Ershad all were candidates in the maximum possible number of constituencies.
Powers and rights
The President of Bangladesh appoints a cabinet with the Prime Minister and other ministers from among the Members. The Prime Minister must be a parliamentarian, and so must at least 90% of the Ministers. The President must appoint a Prime Minister who, in his opinion, commands the confidence of the majority of the House. The cabinet remains answerable to the Parliament.
The President of Bangladesh is elected by the Parliament through an open ballot voting. As a result, opposition party seldom nominates a candidate and the government-party nominee is uncontested. Current President Abdul Hamid, late previous President Zillur Rahman  and former Presidents Iajuddin Ahmed, A. Q. M. Badruddoza Chowdhury and Shahabuddin Ahmed were all elected Presidents unopposed. The Parliament can also impeach the President by a two-third majority, although no President has ever been impeached in the past.
The Parliament can form parliamentary standing committees as it sees fit, for the purposes of examining bills, reviewing law enforcements and any other matter of public importance. The de facto power of the committees have always been nominal; the de jure power too is ambiguous, especially after the Supreme Court ruled that is was not answerable to summons from parliamentary committees.
Article 78 of the Constitution provides immunity to the speeches, actions and votes of the Members done within parliamentary sessions, and hold members not answerable for any such actions to the court. The parliament itself is vested the power to provide indemnity to anybody in service of the nation under Article 46. This allowed the 2nd parliament in 1979 to ratify the Indemnity Ordinance that provided indemnity to the murderers of Sheikh Mujib.
Past parliamentary election results
Speakers and Deputy Speakers
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