A guide to the Parliament of Bangladesh (the Jatiya Sangsad, or House of the Nation), by Nizam Ahmed

26 May 2016

The Bangladeshi Parliament - the Jatiya Sangsad (or House of the Nation) - is a 350-member unicameral Parliament; 300 members are elected directly and 50 seats are reserved for women.

Dr Ruth Fox, Director , Hansard Society
Director , Hansard Society

Dr Ruth Fox

Dr Ruth Fox
Director , Hansard Society

Ruth is responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the Society and leads its research programme. She has appeared before more than a dozen parliamentary select committees and inquiries, and regularly contributes to a wide range of current affairs programmes on radio and television, commentating on parliamentary process and political reform.

In 2012 she served as adviser to the independent Commission on Political and Democratic Reform in Gibraltar, and in 2013 as an independent member of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee Review Group. Prior to joining the Society in 2008, she was head of research and communications for a Labour MP and Minister and ran his general election campaigns in 2001 and 2005 in a key marginal constituency.

In 2004 she worked for Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign in the battleground state of Florida. In 1999-2001 she worked as a Client Manager and historical adviser at the Public Record Office (now the National Archives), after being awarded a PhD in political history (on the electoral strategy and philosophy of the Liberal Party 1970-1983) from the University of Leeds, where she also taught Modern European History and Contemporary International Politics.

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The Parliament predates the independence of the country in 1971. The briefing paper on the Jatiya Sangsad, by Nizam Ahmed, notes that its precursor, the Legislative Council of Bengal, was established during British colonial rule. Since independence, Bangladesh has experimented with different types of government – a multiparty parliamentary system patterned after the Westminster model (1971-74), a one-party presidential system (1975), and a multi-party presidential system (1978-82; 1986-1990). For eight years between 1975 and 1990, the country was under military rule before the multi-party parliamentary system was restored in 1991. Since then, Bangladesh has officially remained a parliamentary democracy. Ten parliaments have been elected over the last four decades (1973-2014), although only a few have been able to complete their five-year tenure.