The ruling Awami League is expected to return to power with majority of parliamentary seats in the upcoming election partly owing to its well-entrenched system of patronage at local level and also because it has overseen a period of solid economic growth, according to London-based Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The EIU, however, says the risks to its call of an AL victory have risen markedly. The Jatiya Oikyafront is led by Kamal Hossain, a veteran politician and key author of Bangladesh's first constitution. He is seen as a secular icon who will help to soften the impact of the BNP's nationalist reputation on the overall image of the alliance. The government's hardline response to recent student protests over road safety has reduced AL support among younger voters. In addition, recent arrests of opposition leaders may play on voter sympathy in favour of the BNP.
Nevertheless, the EIU report adds citing numerous local opinion polls, that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina remains the most popular candidate.
“We believe that the country's impressive record of economic growth and socio-economic development under the AL administration, coupled with a lack of an effective opposition election campaign, will be enough to fend off any challenge posed by the BNP or the
Jatiya Oikyafront more broadly. It is likely, however, that the BNP's participation will reduce the AL's margin of victory to some extent.”
UNB adds: The EIU country report on Bangladesh forecasts that the country's economic growth would remain robust and real GDP will grow by an average of 7.7 percent in 2018/19-2022/23, bolstered by strong increases in private consumption and gross fixed investment.
It observed a win for the Awami League will be important in sustaining foreign investment, and will also support the administration's drive to expand and deepen private sector participation in the economy.
Following such a win, Bangladesh is expected to continue to exploit its strategically important location on the Bay of Bengal to extract concessions and economic assistance from India, China and Japan, said the report.
But Bangladesh's relations with Myanmar will remain tense in the medium term owing to the Rohingya refugee crisis which will remain severe, at least in the early part of the forecast period.
The Economist Intelligence Unit is a specialist publisher serving companies establishing and managing operations across national borders. For 60 years it has been a source of information on business developments, economic and political trends, government regulations and corporate practices worldwide.
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