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This study provides an overview of the evolution of political parties since the birth of Bangladesh. It analyses and compares the ideology, organisational structure, leadership and support base of four major electoral political parties, Bangladesh Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jatiya Party and Jamaat-e-Islami. Key features of party practices and their impact on political development are identified. The state of internal democracy within parties is a particular focus of the study. Six indicators are used to assess the state of internal party democracy. The indicators are leadership selection, candidate nomination, policy-setting, social diversity of leadership, transparency and accountability of party towards election funding, and inter and intra-party violence. Challenges facing the parties are highlighted and actions are suggested to improve the functioning of political parties.