There was no surprise as Sheikh Hasina secured her fourth term as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in an election, the outcome of which was decided when the schedule was announced in early November when the main opposition decided to boycott the polls.
However, what came as a surprise was who secured second position. Instead of any political party, it was independent candidates who secured as many as 63 seats, the second most after Hasina's Awami League (AL), which secured 222. This has resulted in a problem in finding a parliamentary opposition.
The Jatiya Party, the current opposition, only won 11 out of the 300 parliamentary seats, as reported by the Elections Commission.
The majority of the successful independent candidates were individuals who had previously been turned down by the AL. However, they were later approached by the party leaders to run as dummy candidates in order to create the appearance of competition in the election on the global stage.
“This is a bizarre outcome of a bizarre election,” Shahidul Alam, a renowned Bangladeshi rights activist and photographer, told Al Jazeera. “Dummy candidates in a dummy election will now lead to a dummy parliament.”
Rejected by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main political rival of the AL, which insisted that the voting be conducted under an impartial body rather than Hasina's government, Sunday's one-sided election was simply a procedural step to reinstate Hasina in power, according to analysts.
They mentioned that the only unknown factor was the voter turnout, following pressure from Western governments on Hasina's administration to guarantee a democratic and inclusive election.
After voting ended at 4pm (10:00 GMT on Sunday), the Election Commission (EC) reported that the voter turnout was 40 per cent. However, many were doubtful it was even that high.
“I don’t know about the rest of the country but I think I have not seen such an empty Dhaka in years,” Abdullah Yusuf, an engineer in the Dhanmondi area of the capital, told Al Jazeera.
“It felt like the initial COVID days. I crossed two polling centres at midday and didn’t see many people besides Awami League activists who were wearing badges. EC’s claim of 40 per cent is quite absurd.”
(With inputs from Al Jazeera)