As Bhutan is in its ninth year of democracy heading into the 2018 polls there is a real danger of Bhutan turning into a ‘Particracy.’
Particracy is a modern political term that defines a form of government where one or more political parties dominate the political process, rather than citizens.
In 2008, strong party differences that was almost like an unexpected mass fever divided communities and families based on their political loyalties or even the absence of it in some cases. The then losing party members unable to accept the bitter defeat even put up a petition challenging the results.
The 2013 polls saw this being taken to a new high with a strong element of regionalism entering politics as parties accused each other of representing one region or the other. The political fever reached such a high level that the losing party committed an unthinkable act after the 2013 polls which now holds potential for legal troubles for the party.
In both the above elections so far political parties have only strengthened and deepened their Tshogpa network and exposed the rural masses to a cut throat political culture.
As a result, divisions have also been sown even in the minds of the people and there is a heightened level of political polarization commonly visible on online social media forums where even the most innocent issues are politicized and polarized.
This is only expected to increase and get worse as 2018 approaches.
Our Kings granted us democracy not so that we go at each other’s throats, widen old fault lines present in any country, let party fanaticism take over and in the process move backwards as a country.
Democracy, as envisioned by our Kings, is to strengthen every individual Bhutanese, our society and ultimately our nation.
It is about the masses participating in governance and in doing so bringing forth not only the best and the brightest but also taking care of the aspirations and needs of all sections of society.
Democracy is not only about rights and empowerment but also the consequent responsibilities that come with that empowerment.
For a long time we have depended on the leadership of our Kings to pull us back from the brink on one too many occassions, and at times we have not even lifted a finger to help in these endeavors.
It is now high time that citizens get together to ensure that we don’t get further divided in 2018 and thereby prevent and repair some of the damage.
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
H. L. Mencken