Grace and unity

As soon as the results of a win started pouring in, the social media started seeing victorious supporters not only celebrating loudly but also issuing open taunts and threats to supporters and perceived supporters of other parties.

There were promises to shut down companies and ‘fix people’, as supporters on social media openly compiled a hit list.

Supporters, while celebrating media freedom in one breath, also threatened media houses that it felt were critical of it in the years past.

Apart from threats, there was an obscene level of gloating as supporters openly ridiculed entire sections of Bhutanese society who may have voted for the losing side.

There was a great deal of turmoil in the post 2008 and post 2013 elections. The rifts created by those elections have left their scars on Bhutanese society and some wounds are yet to heal.

One would have expected that a certain degree of maturity has come in by the third general elections.

One good aspect of the first government after 2008 was that it deliberately asked the the celebrations to be kept low key or for celebrations not be held at all.

The second government on its part went out of its way to not victimize the relatives of high profile opposition politicians and even got them appointed in senior posts in the government.

The lead up to the 2018 primary round has been polarizing, and it is now up to the political parties and leaders to decide whether this polarization, fueled in part by social media, should be allowed to run its course or a stop should be put to it.

Bhutan is a small society and nobody is really going anywhere else. If the new political culture is to be full of vendetta and hit lists, then sooner or later it will come around everybody’s door.

The Bhutanese Constitution has important checks and balances that do not give free reign to political parties to do what they like. Sooner, than later, they may realize how narrow partisanship can backfire and make governance an even more difficult task.

It is time for the losing sides to accept the results gracefully and for the winners to unite everybody and take them along.

Democracy is not just an election, it is our daily life.
Tsai Ing-wen

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