New article co-authored by David Jackman examines inter-party alliances among local leaders in Bangladesh

17 March, 2021

A new article by David Jackman with Mathilde Maitrot of the University of Bath uses the case of a small city in Bangladesh to explore how local leaders can form alliances across party lines to bolster their power and what this might tell us about political authority in South Asia.

The authority of political leaders in Bangladesh rests on diverse qualities, not least of which are the muscle and finance they can mobilise, and the relationships they can craft with senior party members. These are utilised to confront rivals both within and outside their own party.

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 be to the detriment of party coherence.

This argument is developed through an analysis of mayoral and parliamentary elections held in the past decade in a small Bangladeshi city, where a ruling party member of parliament and opposition mayor appear to have developed such a relationship. This has thwarted the electoral ambitions of their fellow party members and has posed a serious challenge to party discipline.

While political competition is often seen as being either inter- or intra-party, here it is focused 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.

David Jackman and Mathilde Maitrot (2021) 'Allies among Enemies: Political authority and party (dis)loyalty in Bangladesh', Modern Asian Studies, DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X20000463