Large and generally peaceful crowds turned out Wednesday to vote in this 20-year-old country's first democratic transition of power.

"It's amazing. I think people realize this is the last chance for democracy," said Parveen Ahmad, a middle-age social worker. She said she had never voted before out of fear of the violence in previous polls.Her thoughts were echoed by election officials, policemen and voters at polling stations across the capital, Dhaka, and outlying industrial suburbs.