Learn­ing Curve

With elections tak­ing place at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, Bhutan seems to be well on its way on the road to democ­racy.

Southasia - - REGION BHUTAN -

The lo­cal bod­ies or lo­cal gov­ern­ment (LG) elections held in Septem­ber 2016 in Bhutan auger well for democ­racy in the coun­try. These were the se­cond LG elections and 55.8 per­cent vot­ers turned out to vote as against 56.23 per­cent who voted in the first LG elections. With the elections to the lo­cal gov­ern­ments, the process of de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion of Bhutan has also come full cir­cle. The Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner of Bhutan ap­pre­ci­ated the peo­ple and their will­ing­ness to in­vest in and pro­mote democ­racy as the elections pro­ceeded for­ward smoothly with the co­op­er­a­tion of the elec­torates in 1477 con­stituen­cies in the coun­try.

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By Muham­mad Ali Eh­san He par­tic­u­larly ap­pre­ci­ated the elec­tion of 11 per­cent of the women can­di­dates in the LG elections. The LG elections this year are be­ing con­ducted un­der the Bhutanese con­sti­tu­tion af­ter the first LG elections were held in June 2011. Bhutan, with the con­duct of first ever elections to its par­lia­ment in 2008 and now the con­duct of lo­cal gov­ern­ment elections, has en­tered a new phase in its demo­cratic his­tory.

It would be per­ti­nent to re­call the short jour­ney of Bhutan on the demo­cratic road. In 2008, it tran­si­tioned from an ab­so­lute monar­chy to a con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy. It has a two-party demo­cratic sys­tem with an Up­per House that con­sti­tutes 25 elected mem­bers and a Na­tional Assem­bly with 47 law­mak­ers. The chief con­tes­tants were the Bhutan Peace and Pros­per­ity Party (DPT) led by Jigme Thin­ley and the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) led by San­gay Ngedup. The DPT won the elections by tak­ing 45 out of 47 seats. Jigme Thin­ley served as Prime Min­is­ter from 2008 to 2013. Elections were again held in 2013 and the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party came to power in the 2013 elections. It won 32 seats with 54.88% of the vote. PDP leader Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay as­sumed of­fice of Prime Min­is­ter.

Since 2008, Bhutan stands out as a

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