The study investigates the paradoxical role of political parties in the political development of Bangladesh, their positive contributions in mobilizing masses behind the nationalist and the pro-democracy movements, yet their failure to translate their democratic promises into actual practices after the restoration of electoral democracy in 1991. It provides a historical overview of the development of political parties since independence highlighting their growing organizational weakness and the emergence of undemocratic tendencies. The major features of four main electoral parties, the Bangladesh Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jatiya Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami, are analysed. The study explores in depth a key question: how far do the political parties practice democracy within their own organizations. Finally it suggests a few actions to strengthen the democratic processes and organizational capacities of political parties which can contribute towards democratic consolidation in Bangladesh.