January 8, 2024
Sheikh Hasina won reelection as Bangladesh’s prime minister on January 7, 2024, cementing her already-ironclad grip on the nation of 170 million people. Her victory comes after years of cracking down on key opposition leaders and dissent.
She won her first term in 1996, but her most recent contiguous time in power started in 2008. Since then, Bangladesh’s economy has prospered, with GDP per capita nearly quadrupling and exceeding India’s. But as the nation’s economy soared, Hasina also created “a cult of personality,” according to Iftekhar Zaman, the executive director of Transparency International in Bangladesh. And, many of the benefits of a growing economy are not trickling down to the nation’s working-class population, said Chaumtoli Huq, a labor law professor at the City University of New York.
When Hasina can be proud of her economic record, why not trust the people to reelect her? A look at Bangladesh’s turbulent political past might give some answers.