Democracy and political prospects in 2013

With four political parties now and 2013 nearing the political scene is getting warmer.

In the first parliamentary elections, the People’s Democratic Party was a strong favorite with many predicting a PDP win. This was while the underdog, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa went about its rounds in what many say was a more sober manner.

Many reasons are attributed as to why the ruling government won including the oratory skills, strong intellect, political savvy and charisma of the DPT party president Jigmi Y Thinley.

Five years down the line we have two newcomers: Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa and Druk Mitser Tshogpa.

Choices are being offered to the Bhutanese electorate just when the electorate is demanding more variety on the political plate.

While we can guess the favorites no one can conclusively predict who will win in 2013. Bhutanese voters have become wiser. Getting their votes will require the parties to have substance in terms of their manifestos, ideology, candidates and strong leadership.

As of now the political wisdom is that the ruling DPT government has a better chance than most of coming back to power. One clear advantage is the size of the 10th plan itself at Nu 147 bn focused mainly in rural areas from farm roads to rural electrification.

If the developmental activities have reached the intended targets than DPT’s chances will still be better. In the end DPT’s fate will be decided by its good governance.

However, there is also a reason why there is enthusiasm among the opposition party and the two new parties.

The ruling government which once seemed like an invincible fort has developed chinks in its armor. The Tobacco Control Act, land scams, drugs shortage and the first Constitutional case where the government lost to the Opposition party were some of weak-kneed moments for the DPT.

However what overshadows them all is the current financial crisis arising out of the rupee crisis. If the government cannot check this and it gets any worse affecting the real economy in jobs, buying power and currency depreciation, then DPT will be on much more shakier grounds and 2013 will be a true toss-up.

Moreover, though the Prime Minister is still a feather in the DPT’s cap, how long will his leadership carry the government through with some weak ministers, weaker MPs, and controversies galore? This is in the backdrop of a growing segment of the Bhutanese electorate who does not suffer fools, even in high places.

This government like any government also has to carry the incumbent tag.

The situation is not any rosier for the opposition party PDP, which unlike DPT will have to fight tooth and nail just to stay in the race. The fight for now is on who will be DPT’s challenger, whether it is PDP, DNT or DMT.

However, a more important question for Bhutanese democracy is no matter who is elected, how can we be sure that the next party will keep their promises and strengthen democracy?

One obvious way is to elect the right party and the right MPs after carefully weighing all options. However in the longer run no party will be perfect and every group will have its own flaws, some less and others more.

The only way to ensure a healthy and vibrant democracy is if people stay engaged in the democratic process even after the votes are cast once every five years.

The best steel is formed under high heat and pressure; likewise we can only have good governments if they are subject to a high degree of check and balance and accountability by the people, media, opposition party and civil society.

The next government will only follow many of the precedents set by the government before it. So, if there are weak spots in our democratic system then those coming into power will only be too happy to exploit  them.

In a healthy democracy from the time a government is elected to the time its tenure ends, people are the main stakeholders.

The Election Commissions should focus on voter education and awareness campaigns to help people make an informed choice.

At the end, in a democracy, people ultimately get the government they deserve.

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  1. If only political parties could differentiate themselves from the perspective of social, economic, political, cultural ideologies rather than GNH could align and resonate with them. Otherwise, things are as murky as murky itself.  

  2. I don’t understand why people don’t come up with a party name like Druk San gye Tshogpa to help our people explore mindfulness, understanding and enlightenment in this short life? This secular-spiritual approach could be the better representation form of GNH than the one we have currently devised and promoted by the CBS and GNH commission. Just my thought though.

  3. Whatever said and done, the incumbent PM is the best man to lead Bhutan for another term. Of course, he may have to change some non-performing MPs, and i hope he does. I still have hope in JYT , until someone with equal caliber and charisma appear in the scene. For time being, let us sail along with JYT. 

  4. Y media always write abt govt. not of people. It is media’s right to write. not individual journalist’s right to a write story.  I did not see media writing some good sotries og govt. WHY?/??????

  5. There are many people who sleep to dream for other, one among them wokeup and wrote on this forum but by every reasons seen the current government is weak and economically shabby. Had your idol spent all the dollars spent on April 2 some essentials could have been bought for the sick.
    Good people see the other side of the political spectrum, trying to remain apolitical is by itself a political descission. There are much more good things to be done as Primeminister than singing the lullaby. Yet someone knows that is is best(word ‘incumbent’ used wrongly).
    Which of the promises are fulfilled other than rivers holding MP’s name and economy beaten to last cry? What makes you advocate a party is another answer for what you expect from democracy, but someone seem to expect lies and crisises after crunches. I have something lucrative to offer than the explicit explaination for happiness decorated with rhetorics and metaphors, words entering you ears won’t clear you dues or solve the census problem.
    Live a work for generations because you just live a life, what should we expect once the hydroprojects are completed? Don’t forget mathematics while calculating our debts by 2020 and this party has never known that centuries should pass before we collaspe either by economic of environmental poison.
    Be wise, many such paries may come, the new ragdolls may look better but parties are formed without agenda, the last among them is that which dreams of Zero-unemployment.
    Such silly lair will pull wool over your eyes let them not be too harsh else tears may flow.
    Education, health and tourism should be source of Bhutanese income besides hydropower and agriculture. Unless a party has fair mixture of every age groups about 25, it’s an example of the bad one.

    • Although I am not a die-hard supporter of DPT I would still believe and go by some of our forum friends’ comments that no matter what may but it still be a JYT factor going strong to lead the DPT govt. to rule for another term. The only damage factor will be that JYT should not bring in the old incumbent ministers’ faces back to fore as we have had enough of them. we would prefer more new faces of both young and old for a change. And yes, 2013 general election will bring in a very competitive representation of opposition MPs in their full bench capacity in the parliament unlike the present scenerio.

  6. In too many developing countries and even in many developed ones, there is crisis of leadership and that’s because the best are repelled by politics.  In far too many countries, people who step forward to foray into politics are thieves, liars and megalomaniacs with the resultant disillusionment with the political process and low voter turnout. 
    We are fond of saying that Bhutan is unique.  Cliche’s abound ad nauseum – land blessed by Guru Rinpoche and enlightened leaders.  And to some extent, we have been lucky.  We have had wonderful Kings.  We still do.  But the mantle of leadership has been passed on to the people now.  The people have to wake up and exercise this power with great care and responsibility in electing the best we have.  This begins with the nomination process of the leaders by the political parties – the choice that they offer to us, the people.  So the 2013 elections is another time for reckoning.  We get this chance every 5 years.  We did what any normal people would do the first time around – go along with the devil we know – experienced Lyonpos.  They are of the old school.  Used to having their way, with the conviction that their way is the best way.  Thus we have had some macabre things happening – like the MPs, elected by us to be our representatives being metamorphosed into lords and masters.  We’ve seen their blunders like the tobacco law and worse, their inability to accept their mistakes and make timely amends.  We’ve seen their corruption and abuse of power with the Gyelpoizhing land scam.  Their brazen attempts to violate the constitution and worse, inability to accept the decision of the Supreme Court!  Their deviousness at deflecting responsibility for the suffering being borne by the ordinary people with the rupee crisis.   And so on…As the day of the elections draws closer by the day, we are left with the sadness and sense of frustration felt by so many voters all over the world: lack of choice.  This is evident by the type of characters that are stepping forward to form parties and the caliber of individuals they are apparently nominating as their Presidents.   We are not talking here of nominations to your neighborhood knitting club, but of Prime Ministerial candidates!  Come on, fellow countrymen of the glorious Palden Drukpa!  Wake up!

  7. totally agree with pidbri, def in 2013 i am craving to see new leaders running the show…we really need a change in leadership at the highest level. along with them get rid of all the non performing MPs because they have failed us on many occasions. we really need to do a reality check, ask ourselves whether we are really in short supply of young, capable and dynamic people to form a fair and just government/Parliament. if we don’t have such people around then be ready to hear about more land scams  

  8. let us vote for people who keep less promises because it is achievable. Let us not get carried away.

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