Bangladesh’s 12th parliamentary election on January 7, 2024, saw Prime Minister Sheik Hasina win her fourth election, with her Awami League securing 223 out of 300 parliamentary seats, or nearly 75% of the legislature’s voting shares. This victory is possible when the winning candidate is an incumbent, has state apparatus backing, has demonstrated successful foreign relations and economy stewardship, and enjoys a sympathetic media establishment.
However, victory is easier when opposition candidates lack stature or boycott the election outright, as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) did this year and in previous elections. Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal reported that 40% of eligible Bangladeshi voters participated, but some Dhaka press members questioned the legitimacy of the vote, considering the UK’s participation rate in the EU’s 2019 election was 37.2%. Hasina responded to foreign media criticism for not meeting with the opposition by stating that if US President Biden is holding dialogue with Trump, she will hold dialogue with the opposition.
Hasina’s platform, governing style, and personal traits resonated with Bangladeshi voters, particularly women. She had a pre-election lock on women voters and extensive media reports about foreign meddling in the election. Efforts to drag Bangladesh into the liberal globalist hive conjure memories of the country’s colonial past and do not go down well with the average Bangladeshi.
The result is not clear if the BNP had chosen to contest the polls. Hasina ran on a platform that US politicians regarded as the key to electoral success: peace and prosperity. The World Bank recently stated that Bangladesh has an inspiring story of growth and development, aspiring to be an upper middle-income country by 2031. The Asia Development Bank reports that Bangladesh’s GDP grew by 6.9%, 7.1%, 6.0% in 2021, 2022, and 2023, and is projected to grow by 6.5% in 2024.
Hasina, a prominent figure in Bangladesh’s foreign affairs, has gained a significant advantage over opposition challengers due to her extensive experience and strong global presence. Her foreign policy, characterized by “strategic autonomy,” is rooted in the phrase “Friendship to all and malice towards none.” The country’s leadership and electorate are not interested in escalating tensions abroad or aligning with foreign powers’ agendas. Instead, they focus on their own problems and prioritize peace.
Hasina emphasized the importance of collective efforts to address humanity’s common challenges, emphasizing unity, solidarity, and multilateralism over fragmentation and isolation. In her media appearances, Hasina advocates for the continued economic transformation to make Bangladesh a high-middle-income country over the next decade, a policy goal that few Bangladeshi voters would disagree with.