Bhutan Democracy Dialogue launched to strengthen the gift of democracy

Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck graced the launching of the Bhutan Democracy Dialogue’s website and logo at the Royal Banquet Hall, Thimphu yesterday.

The five registered political parties of Bhutan set up the Bhutan Democracy Dialogue (BDD) with the signing of a Charter for Bhutan Democracy Dialogue (BDD) with the Election Commission of Bhutan in November 2014. The concept of BDD surfaced after a joint-party study trip to Denmark, which was supported by the Danish Institute of Political Parties (DIPD) in June 2013.

As per the BDD press release, BDD is set up with a vision to achieve mature democratic culture and to promote vibrant democracy in keeping with the will of the people, wherein, political parties can engage in dialogue, build cooperation and partnership in the interest of placing “Bhutan First”.

BDD is dedicated to Father of Democracy, His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, on His Majesty’s 60th Birthday Anniversary.

“The multiparty platform through BDD will encourage political parties to work together and take a common position on issues, which will further help consolidate Bhutanese democracy and deepen democratic culture,” Chairperson of BDD, Lily Wangchhuk said during the event.

She added that political cooperation achieved through an interparty dialogue is an important cornerstone for an effective and sustainable democracy leading to conflict prevention and peace building, and to regain the public’s confidence in the democratic system.

“Multiparty dialogue is extremely important for the development of political discourse. Through such dialogue, we practice multiparty democracy, overcome differences of opinion, and more importantly, build trust and friendship amongst our people, which otherwise gets affected as people get divided along party lines,” Lily Wangchhuk added.

BDD is set to function as a neutral space for political parties to address the collective interest of parties and strategize on issues for the benefit of the country.

“In a democracy, political disagreement is the difficult part in person. It cannot be avoided. The important thing is that it must be guided by principles,” Chief Election Commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said, adding, “A nation is made up of institutions.”

Also during the event, the Program Coordinator, DIPD, Susanne Adelhardt Jensen, read out a statement issued by the Director, DIPD.

“New generation will find new challenges, ask new questions and seek new solutions. Political parties should not see themselves as key institutions or instruments in management,” the statement mentioned.

On the qualities of political parties, the statement read, “They should also present themselves to the citizen as the role model. Need respect and trust not only when the election takes place, but on daily basis.”

The body has a steering committee comprising of two representatives, each from the registered political parties and the Election Commission of Bhutan.  A chairperson for BDD is to be elected biannually by the members of the committee. BDD held its first meeting last year, on November 24, and elected Lily Wangchhuk, the President of Druk Chirwang Tshogpa, as its first chairperson.

The members of the committee will meet quarterly to propose, review and approve work plan, budget, and activities of BDD. Additional meetings are to be held when the requirement comes up.

BDD has drawn out various programs for 2015 and 2016, with support from DIPD. The committee will initiate and support a democracy festival dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth King, the main architect of the Bhutanese Democracy.

The festival will be an annual event involving political parties, civil society organizations and the media. It will also carry out activities to celebrate the Democracy Day and Constitution Day of Bhutan. BDD will support human and institutional capacity building initiatives of political parties, and promote engagement, cooperation and partnerships between parties, and with related and relevant stakeholders, enhancing a better understanding amongst them.

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