I have never written or critiqued about politics, about election but this time I do wanna write about the primary round of third parliamentary election held on 15th September 2018; because I feel it’s an important part of Bhutanese history.
Four political parties- People’s Democratic Party(PDP), Druk Phunsum Tshogpa (DPT), Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Bhutan Kyenyam Party (BKP) contested in the primary round of election whereby the two highest votes secured go into general round of election to vie for Ruling and Opposition in the parliament for next five years. The people chose DNT and DPT in the primary round for general round bowing out PDP and BKP.
From pledges to debates, to the party candidates and presidents, I have closedly watched a month long campaign of all the four parties and following are some of my observations: :
1. Democracy in Bhutan is still young and unpredictable.
Even after two times parliamentary elections and 10 years of experience with Democracy, Bhutanese in general are still that typical and stubborn when it comes voting especially the commoners. Several people I know and contacted says like they will stick with a party they supported since the beginning even after trying to convince that such notions are wrong and that one needs to study and analyse.
2. Bhutanese aren’t yet ready for a woman leader:
This is the third time a woman had lead a political party only to succumb to disastrous defeat. Perhaps the patriarchal system of society is still strong in Bhutanese mindset even though we don’t have such thing as gender bias.
3. Just because you are of same sex doesn’t mean you support the same:
2018 primary round saw more women voters trunout than the male, yet when it came to exercising the franchise, they chose otherwise. So one can conclude that Bhutanese women do want so-called Gender equality, woman empowerment blah blah,yet they aren’t ready to support the who come in front to lead and represent. How ironic!!
4. Experience and strong candidates matters little:
PDP have had five years of governing experience during which time they selected went for the best of best candidates even replacing most of the incumbents. Did that affect the result? Perhaps!
5. Postal Ballot’s importance:
Election commission’s introduction of facilitation booths across the country for postal ballot voters have had huge impact on the results of primary round election. The election commission of Bhutan should also consider the private individuals and their families to avail such services on the future.
6. Use of national language in common forums:
Dzongkha is our national language and yes it’s is very important, but looking at instances where the constituency debates have become the source of various memes and jokes, I feel it would be of huge help for the party candidates to convince and campaign during the common forums in local languages understood by a particular community. This is a win-win situation where bu the illiterate people at villages understands the pledges and for candidates, such forums doesn’t become source of mockery and mimics. Since Bhutan has around thirteen different native languages, I feel it isn’t time yet for such a system where national language is must in common forums.