Establishing a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy was a dream of the independence leaders of Bangladesh. The process of pursuing this goal began soon after the emergence of the nation. In this journey the western democracies came forth towards aiding the Parliament. The scope of such assistance, however, has varied, with recent years witnessing a major surge in donor interest in Parliament strengthening. Some kind of diversity can also be noticed both in the nature of the strengthening programs as well as in the number of actors and agencies involved. This book examines the scope and limits of donor-assisted Parliament strengthening programs in Bangladesh. It identifies the types of activities undertaken by different donors to strengthen the Parliament and explores the factors that account for the gap between the expectation of project planners and the actual outcome. Evidence shows that the overall impact of external assistance is limited, if not non-existent. Several factors— structural, political, and procedural— account for the limited impact of Parliament strengthening programs. In general, internal constraints appear to have greater damaging effect than conditions linked to external inducement due to donor intervention. As long as these constraints remain in force, the Parliament is unlikely to be able to contribute in any significant way to the consolidation of the nascent democracy in the country, irrespective of the availability of external assistance to strengthen it.
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