Allocation of additional NA constituencies is impossible: ECB
The allocations of additional National Assembly constituencies were not in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the Election Act, and the Delimitation of Demkhong Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2012.
Section 7.4 of Delimitation of Demkhongs Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2012 stated that the Delimitation Commission shall, for the allocation of National Assembly seats, take a total of 10,000 registered voters as the standard size of a National Assembly Demkhong.
However, no Dzongkhag shall be allocated less than two or more than seven National Assembly seats.
The six Dzongkhags of Monggar, Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse, Sarpang, Thimphu and Wangdue Phodrang submitted re- quests for the additional National Assembly Constituencies considering the geographical areas of the Dzongkhags and the increased number of registered voters.
In Gasa and Thimphu, it was proposed to change the boundaries of the existing constituencies such that the high altitude Gewogs could form one constituency and the other Gewogs to be grouped as the other constituency.
According to the press release from the Election Commission of Bhutan states that the Delimitation Commission, in its 31st meeting held on 15th and 21st of December 2017, noted the requests for the allocation of additional National Assembly Constituencies, however, it was found that these were not in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the Election Act, and the Delimitation of Demkhong Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2012.
Also with consideration of other criteria such as equality of voting strength; existing administrative boundaries; accessibility; contiguity and compactness; remoteness and sparseness; and permanent geographical features, states the press release.
The Commission also noted that any change in the number of seats allocated has to be carefully considered in the context of compelling reasons against the implications of foregoing benefits from existing integration of the administrative and the representative units, as well as confusion and possible inconvenience to the general public. Therefore, the Commission resolved that the existing 47 National Assembly constituencies to be maintained without change till the next delimitation exercise due in 2027.
Before the finalization of the delimitation, the commission had an extensive public consultation.
The press release states that the deliberations were guided by the legal provisions related to the allocation of the National Assembly seats and determination of the constituency boundaries provided in The Constitution, Election Act, and the Delimitation of Demkhong Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2012 which specifically provides that the boundaries shall be drawn so that Demkhongs within a Dzongkhag are, as far as possible, equal in the number of registered voters, resulting in equivalent weight of the votes cast by every voter.
However, other factors may also be taken into consideration such as a Demkhong shall correspond, wherever possible, to the existing administrative units and boundaries to facilitate benefits from integration within the territorial area; the means of communication and travel within a Demkhong needs to be taken into account in delimiting Demkhongs and geographical and landmark features such as mountains, rivers and main roads shall be taken into account in delimiting Demkhongs.
The factors also includes the Demkhongs shall be unbroken and inter-connected to facilitate easier interaction of political parties and candidates with their electorates and the final delimitation process will, as far as possible, take into consideration the size, remoteness as well as sparseness of population.
Meanwhile, Samtse Dzongkhag have the highest registered voters with 44, 957 followed by Trashigang Dzongkhag with 44, 525 registered voter and the Gasa Dzongkhag have the lowest registered voters with 1,935.