BBS to initiate Constituency Dialogue for primary round of 2018 NA election

The poll day for the primary round has been set on 15th September

Bhutan Broadcasting Service, as the sole national public service broadcaster will be initiating the first ever Constituency Dialogue (CD) or Dhemkhong Dredhur in all the 47 constituencies during the primary round of elections.

The Constituency Dialogue is aimed at providing a platform for all the party representatives to come together to debate on their pledges in presence of their respective constituents and to critique and raise questions concerning other parties.

The dialogue will be aired on all the BBS platforms for greater outreach so that the voters can make an informed decision while exercising their franchise.

The management said that it is with a great motive that the BBS has planned to initiate the Constituency Dialogue.

“During the primary round of election, other than the two rounds of party presidential debate, as required by the electoral law, there is no other platform for party representatives or candidates to talk about their constituency pledges to their constituents living outside their constituency and therefore, the Constituency Dialogue will fill the gap,” said Tshering Wangchuk, the Chief Executive Officer of BBS.

In total, 47 Constituency Dialogues, one from each constituency shall be recorded and broadcast over 18 days before the primary round poll day.

The objective of the Constituency Dialogue is to enable the voters to know their candidates better, and not only to voters within the constituency but also to all the Bhutanese people, thus enabling the voters to make the right choice of candidates by watching the dialogues on television and not through external influences or hearsay which is aimed at strengthening the foundation of democracy.

He also added that apart from the Constituency Dialogues, the BBS shall conduct the Party Presidential and Party Vice-Presidential debates and give news coverage from across the country as done in the past.

On Friday, BBS invited all the four party representatives to finalize on the recording schedule and also the airing schedule.

The themes and sub-topics for the Dhemkhong Dredhur were also sealed in presence of the representatives after drawing lots. The themes for the Constituency Dialogue have been put in place by a research team from the BBS.

The 47 themes are based on pertinent national issues with one theme for each constituency. Each theme has four further sub divisions coming to 188 sub topics.

However, for fairness the 47 different themes were mixed around with one unknown theme and four subtopics for each constituency being sealed in front of the four party representatives for each candidates.

So in essence any constituency can get any theme. On the debate day the theme is opened and the candidates get to select one of the four subtopics by lucky dip.

The MD of BBS said that the safety here is that first off the themes and subtopics will not leak out but even in the unlikely scenario it does than the candidate will have to prepare for 188 subtopics.

“The research team comprises of six members who are all the employees of BBS and there is complete assurance of confidentiality. We have chosen the team members from our own organization, because in case if there are any allegations in the future concerning the disclosure of the themes, we can hold the team members accountable. Moreover, we would be more assured of confidentiality if the team members are from within than someone from outside,” said Tshering Wangchuk.

The dialogue will have three segments or rounds. The first round of three minutes will be the opening statements of the candidates where they will talk about their pledges and party.

The second round is the dialogue round where there are two sub rounds.

In the first dialogue round candidates can ask each other questions on any issue and here each candidate will get to ask three questions to three different candidates and each candidate will have to in turn answer three questions.

This will be followed by the second dialogue round of theme based questions. Here each of the four candidates will pick up the subtopics for a lucky round and then speak on the issue. After that the other candidates can ask a question each to the person based on his speech and sub theme. Here too each candidate will ask three questions and answer three questions.

This will be followed by two minutes of a closing round.

The first Presidential debate will be around 26th August and so the constituency dialogues will be broadcast at the rate of three dialogues a day after that.

Since each dialogue is of two hours the first dialogue will be from 5 pm to 7 pm, with the second from 7 pm to 9 pm and the third from 9 pm to 11 pm. There will be a 10 minutes dzongkha news break at 8 pm and another 10 minutes English news break with no commercials.

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