Bhutan heading for political change

Bhutan heading for political change

Sangay Choki,

It is certain, with the incumbent Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on his way out the Mountain Nation of Bhutan is heading for a political change. The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been trounced at the hands of Dr Lotay Tshering’s Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) in the recently held primary polls for the third parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has been Prime Minister of Bhutan since 2013.

In the primary round of the  third parliamentary election on 15 September, Tobgay’s PDP has been defeated by DNT in the preliminary round in a four cornered contest and  the ruling party is out from the race for power.

The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa is one of the four registered political parties in Bhutan and it had contested in the primary round of the 2nd National Assembly elections held in 2013, came third place, polling 35,962 votes.

In the just concluded election PDP got the highest number of Electric voting machine (EVM) votes among the four parties in the fray.  It got over 70% of 79,883 votes.  But the 23,703 postal ballot votes PDP secured were not enough to win the primaries. Postal ballot is allowed for the civil servants, students above 18 years, armed forces, persons working abroad, a section of private, corporate and Civil Society Organization employee, their dependents and those with special needs.

Four Political parties, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Druk Phyenseum Tshogpa (DPT), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhutan Kuenyam Party contested in the primary round of the election.

DNT a new party secured the highest number of votes (92,722) followed by the incumbent opposition DPT (90,020), PDP (79,883) and BKP (28, 473). Of the 108,580 postal ballots, DNT secured the highest (37,556), followed by DPT (36, 912), PDP (23, 703) and BKP (10,409).

Of the total 438,663 registered voters (M- 214,113, F- 224,550) only 291,098 (M- 1,44,028, F- 1,47,070) turn out to cast their votes. Of the total votes polled, 182,518 were cast on the EVM and 108,580 through postal ballots. The number of women voters was higher this time.

DNT and DPT will contest in the final round of the election on 18 October. Whoever wins the election will form the ruling government and the other will run as the Opposition.

DNT lead by its President Lotay Tshering pledged to uplift the poor and narrow the gap between the rich and poor if it comes to power and also to provide a free, equitable and quality health-care to people to have a healthier nation.

DPT President, Pema Gyamtsho and his party pledged to achieve national economic self-sufficiency by 2025, develop agriculture and tourism sector, increase participation of women and to garner support to CSOs in Bhutan.