ECB green lights entry of DNT candidates into PDP

The okay, however, is accompanied with some critical observations from the ECB

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), in an ‘opinion’ sent to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) around two days ago, has given the go ahead for the PDP to take in DNT candidates for the general elections round. This meant that the seven DNT candidates including the President and Vice President could file in their nomination papers as PDP candidates.

The PDP had originally proposed the names of nine DNT candidates to the ECB, all of whom were given the go ahead to join PDP. In end, however, only seven DNT candidates are joining the PDP- with Jigme Dorji from Drametse-Ngatshang and Tenzin Lekphell from Bartsham-Shongphu being left out. The ECB, in its go ahead, has divided the approved candidates into two categories.

In the first category, the ECB has given the go ahead to DNT candidates who secured more votes than PDP candidates on the grounds that they give voters a popular choice. In the second category, the ECB has allowed DNT candidates who had fewer votes than PDP candidates to join PDP as part of nomination procedure to replace PDP candidate who are unable or unwilling to stand as candidates.

The ECB opinion says, “In the context of both the intent as well as the letter of Section 209.c to offer  opportunity to the electorate of a specific demkhong (constituency) to vote in a candidate of popular choice,”DNT candidates like President Dorji Choden, Vice-President Jigme Zangpo, Tenzin Lekphell, Lekey Dorji, and Norbu Wangchuk who have received more votes than PDP candidates may replace them to offer a popular choice to voters.

The ECB opinion says that in the case of  four other DNT candidates, the reason of offering the electorate the opportunity to elect a candidate of popular choice is not relevant. The other four candidates are Kinely Dorji from Radhi-Sakteng, Pelzang Wangchuk from Jomostangkha-Martshala, Jigme Dorji from Drametse-Ngatshang, and Tshering from Panbang.

“However, as per nomination procedures, the other four DNT candidates can also be nominated if the original candidates do not wish or are unable to stand as candidates in the general elections,” says the ECB opinion.

The former Opposition Leader Tshering said, “We respect the ECB’s opinion, and therefore, we will work within the framework of the law, whereby the seven DNT candidates can join PDP as noted by the ECB.”

The ECB, however, before arriving at the final decision above has done a critical analysis of the situation and the implications of allowing and not allowing DNT candidates to join PDP.

The opinion says that under section 209.c it is permissible for a party eligible for general elections to nominate candidates on the tentative list of the other parties that did not make it to the general elections.

“However, the primary implication is that the number proposed (9 candidates) is large, amounting to almost 20 percent of the total candidates fielded for the elections, which raises serious concerns on the likelihood of coalition and horse trading effect,” says the ECB opinion.

The ECB also points out that since four of the DNT candidates have lesser votes than the PDP candidates they are going to replace; it indicates a certain amount of closed door negotiations having taken place between the parties like a de facto coalition, rather than the concerned candidate being approached. It says that it appears that it was being decided by the party.

The ECB says that though it may be taken as a de facto coalition of PDP and DNT, it is not de jure or legal as both parties are separate entities under the law.

The ECB points out that the highest party leadership joining another party a week after the primary round raises questions on ethics and morality, although it cannot be objected to legally. It says such questioning could lead to a loss of public faith in the political process.

The opinion says that the ultimate repercussion would, of course, be borne out in the ballot box on poll day as there is no guarantee that these replacements would be elected to office, which would determine the effectiveness of such a strategy.

It also says that the viability of DNT as a registered political party may become necessary to be reviewed once issues related to the National Assembly elections are settled.

The ECB opinion says that the implication of not allowing DNT candidates to join PDP could be primarily in terms of the possibility of ECB being challenged in court based on section 209.c by PDP or DNT candidates.

In the end, the ECB while not entirely pleased with the ethical issues involved approved the move as it was in keeping with the law.

However, former DNT President and now PDP candidate Dorji Choden said, “My own view is that coalitions are only formed when parties are elected to power and not before that. There is nothing legally wrong otherwise the ECB would not have allowed this.”

She stressed that DNT candidates had made their own individual choices to join PDP. She said, “Our standing principle is that party interest above individual interest and national interest above party interests. I also owe it to my constituency which overwhelming voted for me in the primary round.”

Another DNT candidate said, “It would have been much easier for some DNT candidate to have said yes to DPT, and joined them and have higher chances of enjoying power, but the fact that the DNT President and others took a more difficult path shows our commitment to democracy.”


Tenzing Lamsang 

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  1. It is going to be interesting general election this time. 13th July will tell us about all speculations, assumptions, Hopes and fate of the nation for next five years. .. “Cheers”

  2. hell with PDP+DNT

    Now they know how to play around the law. Nice very nice……..

  3. Aum Dorji, it seems individual interst is above party and national interest in your case. why on earth did you attend press conference in the capacity of DNT president on June 8, 2013 when you had already resigned from party. Secondly why do you still think people of Kanpara will vote for you as PDP champa now. You got votes in the primary round as president of DNT,for your new ideas, new times. You think there is no better stupid person than you in whole of Thrimshingkanpara Constituency?.

  4. “”However, former DNT President and now PDP candidate Dorji Choden said, “My own view is that coalitions are only formed when parties are elected to power and not before that””
    Reply: Madam Dorji, In Bhutanese context, how would it be possible to form a coalition after the parties are elected to power when we will be having only two parties in General Election. Are you trying to construe the meaning of coalition in terms of multi-party democracy?

    “”Another DNT candidate said, “It would have been much easier for some DNT candidate to have said yes to DPT, and joined them and have higher chances of enjoying power, but the fact that the DNT President and others took a more difficult path shows our commitment to democracy.””

    Reply: Of course it would be easier if DNT candidates had joined DPT, however, when you are not invited by DPT to join them, how would it be easier and what are the other options? 

  5. Aum Dorji Jchoden, don’t boast that you got high number of votes from your constituency…
    I will not vote for you now…

    I completely lost my faith in u…

    All the very best of luck for u..

    • These developments are the characteristic of politics and there is nothing in joining winning party as long as one can serve and bring benefit to the community. The primary concern must be to contribute to the advancement of soceity and one should remain committed to one’s motive.

  6. A coalition or horse-trading in politics is understood to occur only after the election results are out! For example, PDP wins 27 seats and DPT wins 25 seats in the general elections. If the election law allows defection of PDP candidates to the DPT camp to make it a ruling government, then it is a coalition or horse-trading. 

    So I think we should stop talking about coalitions and horse-trading for now. PDP’s horses should remain with PDP only!

  7. Aum Dorji Choden is taking advantage over it knowing that ECB rule is very week

  8. Democracy has now become personal choice rather than people’s choice…

  9. PDP but now DPT

    A big question to those aspiring politicians who are thinking of joining PDP in the future. Tragic stories are coming out from some of the replaced PDP candidates. They joined the party with interest and belief. They campaigned to their best till the end. On the 31st May evening, when the results wer out, they were pleased and excited that their party got through. They felt they were a step closer towards achieving their lifetime dreams. They received messages of congradulations and good wishes from family and friends. But, the excitement was unexpectedly to be dashed. Next morning, they started to received unexpected calls and text messages from their leadership and some other senior candidates asking them to withdraw their candidature. Their political journey was to end there. Soon, meetings were called in between the leaders and candidates of PDP and DNT. They were sidelined, scolded, betrayed and persuaded to withdraw for the seats to be given to better candidates from another party. They were promised good compensation and possibly good jobs. They could not refuse the withdrawal when the pressure was too much. After several days of meetings and discussions, they were forced to forfeit their candidature.

    • I feel really sorry for the remaining 40 candidates of DNT, who are left nowhere……
      Aum Dorji: do or die she just want power ..Thats all……

    • It’s indeed sad. I feel sorry for the PDP unwanted candidates. This dirty politics propagated by no other than ex-OL is making the trend of democracy dangerous in Bhutan.

  10. Yes, one of the replaced candidates is my school mate from Class Infant to Graduation. He is really digruntled because he had good chance to get elected in the general round. i told him it is not the end of everything. He told me that after all the hard work for primary round, it came as a big blow to him and he pledged never to join politics and to see how his replacer fares in the election.

    • Paksam Jenshing

      @Phukatong: you are really acting like Kaptong…..don’t lie in the view of thinking that people might loose faith in PDP and go for DPT….. Your selfish DPT is enough now..

  11. How many lyes should we allow PDP and DNT candidates to tellus before we teach them a bitter lesson? They said that the 7 candidates have consented to be so-called better candidates of DNT? Now, the very same candidates are sharing their wounded sentiments. PDP believes in devolving power and DNT believes in humbleness. But the 7 candidates have no power to remain in their positions as party candidates? These powerful and hungry politicians have bullayed and harassed them until they accepted the withdrawal. Who said that these DNT candidates are better? Because of their egoistic nature, they think they are better than everyone. Those who think about themselves being the best, nothing is going to succeed.

  12. when election laws clearly allows this why complain. mostly they are dirty party supporters who are not happy. we cannot afford to be ruled by a single arrogant party for another five years. so think about larger picture and not for one party only.

    • We all know that the ECBs rules allow it, but it is clear that the ECB did not expect such a thing like a President of a party leaving her party in shambles to join another party. What we are doing is only questioning the morals and ethics of Aum Dorji Choden, So do you think these 7 people are going to win the elections for the PDP, please stop dreaming wiseman..

  13. Quote, “She stressed that DNT candidates had made their own individual choices to join PDP. She said, “Our standing principle is that party interest above individual interest and national interest above party interests. I also owe it to my constituency which overwhelming voted for me in the primary round.” unquote.

    Then why was it necessary to have a party meeting if indeed it were individual choices of the candidates, this is just a eyewash, especially in view of PDP replacing candidates that garnered even more votes than the DNT candidates that are replacing them. PDP needs to explain this very strange stance of theirs, how can this be good for their party.

    Another DNT candidate said, “It would have been much easier for some DNT candidate to have said yes to DPT, and joined them and have higher chances of enjoying power, but the fact that the DNT President and others took a more difficult path shows our commitment to democracy.”

    But there were no offers from DPT so the question of joining DPT does not even arise, DPT certainly do not need gatecrashers with no morals to join their party. I would actually like to know who was the DNT candidate that made this stupid remark.

    In the final analysis, even the ECB is very suspicious of the moves made by PDP and DNT and questions the morals of both the DNT President and the Vice President. ECB goes even further and wonders if DNT can remain as a viable party after having been deserted by their President and VP.

    As for lying, we now know who the real liars are.

  14. People are ambitious and materialistic.  Some of the DNT founders worked for many years and finally their President and VP joined another party for their own personnel gain.   With such attitudes from the DNT Leaders I wonder whether DNT will ever come back in 2018.  Aiiii I convey my deep condolences to those of you who worked hard to come up with party ideologies and principles.  

    • If u r not ambitious never ever think about politics and just let other people to take your decision. All DNT people who joined PDP r smart enough to take up such opportunity and I would have done the same thing when it is obvious of winning the votes. The primary concern of politician is to win the vote and if there is chance one should jump at once without any second thought.

      • So for you there is nothing called ethics, honesty, morals and other human virtues. It is win at all costs. 

  15. A coalition government is where two or more political parties join together in parliament/assembly to run the government and agree on a policy programme. Examples are Wales where Labour and Plaid Cymru have agreed a set of policies, but still campaign against each other outside of the national assembly and Luxembourg where the CSV and LSAP work together for the good of Luxembourg.

  16. Which senseless candidate said that they chose the more difficult path to join PDP though it would have been easier to join DPT? Joining DPT may have been easier and better, but how can you join when you are not invited? Why do you say joining PDP is a difficult path? Because, PDP is least likely to lose? It’s really difficult to understand what these candidates are saying. Some are talking about regionalism while some even talk of strengthening the party by coalition.

  17. No matter how the law is being interpreted, the fact is, with DNT president along with its 6 prominent members joining PDP, the 17% of voters would switch its support to PDP. The DNT and PDP says it’s not coalition but beyond doubt it’s coalition. There’s no question about it. The poor DPT has to bear the brunt of loosing many of its constituency because of this coalition. If this coalition is to be formed, what’s the purpose of primary election. Now DPT has to fight against two forces. That’s how the democracy is paving its way. Poor DPT, i feel so sorry but can’t help it. Dear fellow citizens, let’s wake up and think twice before you cast vote..

  18. Dorji Choden made a wise decision by joining PDP. She can strengthen PDP’s base in East. She won by huge margin in her constituency which means she has to represent them in the Parliament. This is possible only by joining PDP. Otherwise she has to wait for 5 years and there is no guarantee her party will win the primary round in 2018. The best time for her to be MP is now. I support her move and she is doing it within the laws. Remember these laws were framed by some heavyweights of the DPT when they were ministers in the pre-democracy era. Good luck to Dorji Choden and PDP. We want a new government and we are so close to achieving it with the support of Dorji Choden.
    NO to corruption and YES to PDP.

  19. if you are so morally hurt by am dorji choden and others joining pdp, and so scared that dpt will lose the election, why don’t you jump in the river and drown yourselves.

    • Dpt is very happy, because people have realized that PDP and DNT were one and the same party. They have also understood the malign intentions behind PDP and DNT coalition. DNT said Nyumchung Party to woo vote of innocent peolple and PDP HIFI style to get votes of RICH/BUSINESS TYCOONS and vote from West.. People are much smarter then Am Dorji, Lopen Jigme Zangpo and former MP TT.

  20. The Election Act of 2008 was passed when most of the MPs were from DPT and now in the given situation why make fuss over the issue.

  21. Even when the 7 dnt candidates joins PDP, some people are full of tension and jealosy. What will happen if they go on to win the general election? Please don’t commit suicide then.

  22. hell with PDP+DNT

    Now DPT will fight against three parties with DCT candidate from Pemagatshel joining PDP. If PDP wins, it is all right but if three parties can’t fight aginst one and lose, their intentions and strategies must be reworked…

    • The only reason a DCT candidate from Pema Gatshel joined PDP was to deflect the criticism that is being leveled at DNT and PDP being a coalition. The fact that he has zero chance of winning probably went in his favor, OL good trick but no ones being fooled by this cheap tactic of PDPs.

  23. Am Dorji said, “Party interest above individual interest, and national interest above party interest” But inside her mind she thought “this time, party interest above national interest and individual interest above party interest.” usually, we do what we think, not what we say. So, these 7 smart candidates did what they thought, not what they said.

  24. Jigme Zangpo should relax in Matsangdaza, because he will not get vote for deceiving DNT and its supporters.

  25. The ECB said that there was an indication that the DNT and PDP at party level decided who should join rather than the individuals themselves. It is like saying that “we know that DNT and PDP has done something wrong but then the law allows it… Does this mean that our law makers were not farsighted enough to imagine all such cases … like majority of party members moving to another party .. including the president.. This was unexpected and therefore not adequately covered in the law. The coalition which is not allowed in the constitution was not reflected in the Election Act.
    This indicates the need for revision of the law so that such moves are prevented in future. Even in 2008, DPT nearly won all the constituencies. Even the two constituencies won by PDP were just by a difference of small number of votes. Again, imagine if all were won by DPT. There would not have been Opposition. Even in this case, it was not expected and reflected in the law… So law must be comprehensive and imagine even the impossible.

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