The overwhelming victory of the Awami League in the December 2008 general elections was hailed as a sign that democracy had returned in Bangladesh. The task of initiating real changes, however, is an arduous one, as the local context remains marked by political instability. The present government faces multiple challenges: violence ensuing from religious extremism and communitarism is widespread, national institutions are marred by corruption and factionalism, and the local economy suffers from a serious energy deficit. Should it fail to provide effective answers to these challenges, it would rapidly lose its popular consensus. A weakening of the government threatens to plunge the country back into chaos or to lead to a despotic form of government, as has often happened in Bangladesh.