Bangladesh Table of Contents
The legislative branch of the government is a unicameral Parliament, or Jatiyo Sangsad (House of the People), which makes the laws for the nation (see fig. 11). Members of Parliament, who must be at least twenty-five years old, are directly elected from territorial constituencies. Parliament sits for a maximum of five years, must meet at least twice a year, and must meet less than thirty days after election results are declared. The president calls Parliament into session. The assembly elects a speaker and a deputy speaker, who chair parliamentary activities. Parliament also appoints a standing committee, a special committee, a secretariat, and an ombudsman.
Parliament debates and votes on legislative bills. Decisions are decided by a majority vote of the 300 members, with the presiding officer abstaining from voting except to break a tie. A quorum is sixty members. If Parliament passes a nonmoney bill, it goes to the president; if he disapproves of the bill, he may return it to Parliament within fifteen days for renewed debate. If Parliament again passes the bill, it becomes law. If the president does not return a bill to Parliament within fifteen days, it automatically becomes law. All money bills require a presidential recommendation before they can be introduced for debate in Parliament. Parliament has the ability to reject the national budget or to delay implementation. It is therefore in the best interests of the executive as well as the entire nation that budgets submitted to Parliament should be designed to please the majority of its members. The legislature is thus a potentially powerful force for enacting laws over the objections of the president or for blocking presidential financial initiatives. In practice, however, because most members of Parliament have been affiliated with the president's party, the legislature has typically served the interests of the president (see The Ershad Period , this ch.).
The Bangladeshi and British parliaments have accommodated political parties in a similar manner. After elections, a single political party or a coalition of parties must form a government-- that is, they must form a block of votes within Parliament that guarantees the passage of bills they may introduce. Once a parliamentary majority is formed, the president chooses the majority leader as prime minister and appoints other members of the majority as cabinet ministers. Parliament can function for a full five-year term if a single party or coalition can continue to guarantee a majority. If, however, opposition members attract enough votes to block a bill, the president can dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. In order to prevent widespread bribing of members, or the constant defection of members from one party to another, the Constitution declares that party members who abstain, vote against their party, or absent themselves lose their seats immediately. In practice, whenever Parliament has been in session, a single party affiliated with the president has been able to command a solid majority.
Data as of September 1988