ECB explains new rule on the 10 years work experience for 100 NC hopefuls

Damchoe Pem/ Thimphu

Upon the announcement made by the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), 129 aspiring candidates initially registered for a seminar, of which only 100 (6 females and 94 males) turned out for the seminar for the National Council (NC) elections in 2023.

They were given an opportunity to engage themselves in an open deliberation, and get information on the key legal frameworks to participate as candidates in the National Council (NC) Elections next year.

In addition, they were also briefed on the new rules on Elections Conduct in the Kingdom of Bhutan 2022. The new rule states that to contest the NC, in addition existing requirements, the candidate must fulfill 10 years of work experience.

As per ECB, the new rules are aimed at strengthening the electoral processes, and to create an enabling environment for the qualitative participation in elections by political parties and candidates of good standing and suitable experiences to represent the constituents in the Parliament.

ECB said, “This is extremely vital, in recognition of the great importance attached to the sacred parliamentary duties and responsibilities that elected leaders have to discharge with a great sense of duty and service to the nation, and in view of the ever-increasing complex challenges that Bhutan will face going forward.”

It is also to ensure that elections in Bhutan are conducted with high standards of integrity, truthfulness, selflessness, loyalty and patriotism, ECB further added. 

Talking to a few of the current serving NC candidates, under the condition of anonymity, they shared they totally support and welcome the new rule. They said with NC, being a house of review, it is important that someone who is knowledgeable about the policies take the seat.

“In a democratic world, we feel there should be someone who the people can trust, have confidence and faith in, after all we are elected as their representative. Otherwise, if someone who is completely new to everything gets elected, then the people might lose faith from the candidate and from the electoral system,” one of them added.

They further said that a candidate who has a working experience for 10 years will be in better position to deliver better services to the people than those with no experience. Therefore, they appreciate the new criteria on the working experience.    

Meanwhile, ECB said that despite numerous challenges posed by the pandemic and numbers of lockdown in 2020 and 2021, they were able to successfully conduct the Third Local Government Elections, 2021, Thromde Elections and four NA Bye-Elections to National Assembly Demkhongs under four dzongkhags.

Nevertheless, ECB said, “New challenges can emerge anytime in new elections, and no elections are same. We are in the process of preparing to effectively deal with any new challenge that may arise. We believe that we are fully prepared to face any unforeseen challenges, and shall always remain on an ever-ready-mode.”

For a smooth NC election next year, ECB has several activities in the pipelines, wherein election offices in all the 20 dzongkhags shall conduct civic and voter education for the Fourth Parliamentary Elections at both the gewog and chiwog levels in November 2022.

In addition, the training on Election Dispute Settlement System shall be conducted in December 2022, and they shall come up with the various awareness materials for the NC Elections 2023 and will be released at an appropriate time.

For the upcoming NC Elections, the estimated budget is Nu 368.363 million. However, the actual expenditure incurred could be determined only upon the completion of the election.

Meanwhile, to enhance the interest and ensure greater level of participation of the general public in all elections in the country, ECB has been regularly conducting civic and voter education, both during the election and non-election period.

“Over the years, a great deal of focus has also been placed on the participation of the youth, women and persons with disabilities in all our elections,” ECB added.

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