A Perplexing Relationship Between Islamic Social Movement and Islamist Parties' Electoral Performance in Bangladesh

Sarkar, Sumpa
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University of Guelph

Existing literature on Islamic social movement does not address the relationship between the success of an Islamic social movement and Islamist parties. To address the gap in the literature, I ask why an Islamic social movement rises despite the failure of Islamist parties, and why Islamist parties fail in spite of the increasing influence of an Islamic social movement. To answer these questions, I conducted 14th in-depth elite interviews in Bangladesh. Based on the findings, I argue that Islamic social movement in Bangladesh is rising notwithstanding the failure of the Islamist parties because of two reasons: the state’s strategic use of Islam and Islamist groups’ effort in utilizing political opportunities to increase the strength of the movement. In contrast, the Islamist parties in Bangladesh fail despite the growth of the movement because the parties failed to direct the resources of the movement to increase constituency and non-religious parties are successful in attracting religious voters.

Islamic social movement, Islamist parties, Bangladesh, Religious voters, Political opportunities