Allies among enemies: political authority and party (dis)loyalty in Bangladesh

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The authority of political leaders in Bangladesh rests on diverse qualities, not least of which are the muscle and finance they can mobilize, and the relationships they can craft with senior party members. These are utilized to confront rivals both within and outside one’s own party, competition which can be just as fiercely fought. In some instances, the intensity of intra-party competition can be so severe, that a further quality emerges: the capacity to find allies among enemies. Building local inter-party alliances can bolster the authority of politicians, yet severely detriment party coherence. This argument is developed through an analysis of mayoral and parliamentary elections over the past decade in a small Bangladeshi city, where a ruling party MP and opposition Mayor appear to have developed such a relationship. This has thwarted the electoral ambitions of their fellow party members, posing a serious challenge to party discipline. While political competition is often seen as being inter or intra party, here it is around inter-party alliances. This portrayal suggests we need to give greater emphasis to the decentralized and local character that political authority can take in Bangladesh.
Original languageEnglish
JournalModern Asian Studies
Early online date12 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2021


  • Party Competition
  • Bangladesh
  • Political transition
  • party politics
  • South Asia
  • Political authority

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