In the month of February, Social Democratic Party (SDP) submitted nine queries to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) on legislative rule on political parties, their formation and organization.
The first question was on what is needed for advance information and approval from “appropriate authorities” before organizing public meetings and why, to which ECB replied that there is no precise control on a political party – both existing or an emerging, calling or organizing public meetings during the non-election period; however, necessary permission should be obtained from the relevant authorities. The ECB does not have any objections as long as a political party is mindful of law and order requirements.
Perhaps, the most interesting query was on whether the party logo and names could be fixed on private vehicles belonging to the members during the non-election period as it is important to advertise, advocate and encourage membership.
ECB responded that it may be useful for a political party to affix party logos and names on private vehicles belonging to party members but it should be done after the political party has registered formally and the party symbol has been accepted by ECB
The election commission will adopt the system of organizing a common forum for all parties and candidates during election campaign period. It would be done on a mutually agreed date and place where the public would be gathered to hear the parties and candidates either at the demkhong, gewog or chiwog levels. Political parties can arrange their own meetings or conduct door-to-door campaign subject to regulation in place.
Political party rules provide that a party cannot appoint more than one gewog coordinator
“We submitted the queries because we want to follow proper rules and regulations,” said the spokesperson of the third party. He also added that all answers were in line with legislative rules.
The SDP spokesperson commented on the restriction of public servants attending party meetings which is impractical because public servants cannot remain apolitical in the true sense when they are affected by politics as much as the others.
“Only religious people like monks can be truly apolitical,” said the spokesperson.