How a DNT and PDP voters’ combination holds the potential to decide the general elections

However, this is easier said than done. If the combination does not happen then DPT already has 22 seats requiring just 2 more to form the government

If the primary round was a circle and it was cut three ways based on the vote percentage of the DNT, DPT and PDP, then the sizes would be roughly equal. However, the constituencies won are vastly different and favour DPT.

As per the primary results DPT got 22 seats, DNT got 16 and PDP got nine seats. This means that, as of now, DPT is just two seats short of being able to form the government while DNT is eight seats short.

The Bhutanese after a calculation of the results found that if a large majority of PDP supporters decide to support DNT then the party could win up to 35 seats in the general elections.

This is based on the fact that PDP won in nine constituencies, DNT won in sixteen constituencies (where it will require the support of PDP voters to retain those seats) and there are 10 DPT held seats where DNT and PDP votes outnumber the DPT front runners. This brings the total to 35 seats (see main info box).

There are another five currently DPT held seats that could go either way. While the DPT presence is strong there the combination of DNT and PDP votes with some marginal support from BKP could swing it any way (for constituency wise results see table).

It is only in seven seats that DPT has an outright majority that no other political combination can assail.

However, all of the above is easier said than done. The failure of DNT to appeal to these PDP voters could mean a low PDP turnout since their party has already crashed out of the race. This could raise the chances for DPT with its combination of a loyal base in the east and attempts at ensuring a higher turnout of its supporters for the big day.

Also, while DNT may count on the PDP-DPT rivalry to get PDP votes, things may not be that simple anymore. A PDP leader, on the condition of anonymity, said that the primary round saw DNT really attacking PDP even more than DPT and in fact PDP lost most of its seats and votes to DNT and not DPT.

He said that there is suspicion within the PDP ranks that some DNT members were and are sympathetic or overtly friendly to DPT against PDP and it is obvious in some of their social media activity and actions or even on how they advise DNT members.

The PDP leader also said that DNT already seems to assume that it has won and so PDP supporters and voters have the option of not turning up at all if ‘both sides of the coin are going to be the same’.

The DPT President Pema Gyamtsho said, “A victory was expected at the constituency levels but there was no overall expectation to make it to the final round.”

He said that DPT can easily win the general elections if there is no combination between DNT and PDP.

The DPT President said that the only barrier is that DPT and PDP supporters have an antagonistic mindset towards each other.

Several other DPT candidates that the paper spoke to from eastern Bhutan expressed the same feeling that DPT can win without any alliance between DNT and PDP. They hoped that DNT and PDP would not come together.

DPT, in fact, is already on a damage control mode and sources say that some DPT members are already approaching certain strong PDP candidates to join DPT for the general round.

Meanwhile DNT’s official stand so far is that it is not open to taking in candidates from other parties.

When asked what DNT would do to attract PDP voters, DNT President Dr Lotay Tshering said, “Actually I am very straight on this matter. In the primary round people voted for political parties and in the general round they will vote for candidates. People supporting certain parties’ mathematics does not work in the field. We can’t just target PDP and BKP supporters.”

“In fact hardcore PDP supporters may not come out to vote at all for any party,” added Dr Lotay.

He said that the people had supported a new party that had not entered parliament and that they would go by that mandate.

On the question of taking parties from other candidates Dr Lotay said, “I think the executive committee will decide but it is highly unlikely that candidates will be replaced.”

He said that the only window is if certain DNT candidates come themselves and say they cannot win a constituency and offer to give the chance to another candidate.

Here the DNT General Secretary Tenzin Lekphell said, “With DNT now entering the final round, I don’t think any candidate will come forward to give up their seat.”

He said, “I don’t think the executive committee will agree to bring in any new candidates.”

On being asked about what DNT would do to attract PDP voters, the DNT General Secretary said that DNT did not have a specific plan as such but that DNT had good pledges.

He also said that DPT and PDP have always not agreed since 2008 and so DNT is a better option for PDP voters.

Both the DNT President and General Secretary said that they already have good candidates.

A DNT leader said that it is wary of any candidate change due to the ‘2013 experience’.

The PDP President Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that his first duty is to ensure that PDP voters do not stay away from poll day during the general elections.

“I will encourage all PDP supporters to vote on poll day and this includes my wife,” said Dasho Tshering Tobgay.

He said that democracy is a sacred gift from the throne and so it is the responsibility of every voter to vote wisely.

The PDP President thanked all his party supporters for their support in what he said has been a grueling campaign.

On PDP candidates joining other parties the PDP President said, “I leave it to the candidates but if any candidate wants to join any other party then the party will support them.”

Dasho said, “These candidates joined PDP to serve the Tsa Wa Sum and so they can go on to to do the same elsewhere.”

The PDP President said that his priority would be in rebuilding and strengthening the PDP party which did well in the primary round.

He said that PDP would continue to play an important and active role in Bhutan’s democracy.

Meanwhile, in a sign of how polarized and complicated the 2018 elections have become, supporters of certain victorious political parties have already started issuing open threats and taunts to the losing side.

In one case a threat was given by an anonymous DPT supporter to perceived PDP supporters on a popular facebook platform and it was supported and ‘liked’ by a prominent DNT member and adviser.

About Tenzing Lamsang

One comment

  1. DNT was more aggressive to PDP than any other party during constituency dialogue. They openly asked people to change the Government despite PDP’s good performance during its term. Instilled fear of autocracy and dictatorship in the minds of the people. They had been opposing the government although they were not in the parliament. For instance they took the Government to court on tax alteration via fiscal incentives.
    Some candidates of DNT are not that capable. Still the president is not able to replace them. These and many other factors will decide PDP supporters vote to DNT. However, I am not a supporter of DPT as well and I would like to remain neutral for now.

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