How PDP lost in 2008 and what DPT should learn for 2013

With the 2013 race only seven to eight months away a series of predictions are being made of the future results, some depending on facts and some on ‘feelings’.

What the final results will be, nobody can truly say, though the current opinion of Bhutan’s ‘chattering classes’ would suggest that DPT for now is in a better position than the other parties.

However, to get a truly accurate picture and any vaguely accurate prediction of the future electoral results, keeping track of the past electoral trends is extremely important, especially the 2008 general elections where PDP lost. Coincidentally in 2008 the general wisdom from the same chattering classes was that PDP would win and win quite decisively.

So why did PDP lose and that too with such a huge margin? Till date there has been no official and public analysis for various reasons, but ultimately it is in the interest of Bhutanese democracy to examine the reasons for that loss.

The analysis is all the more important now because DPT in many ways is seen to be repeating the many mistakes of PDP in 2008.

In 2008 through a combination of circumstances, public perception and highly effective rumors against PDP, three key sections of the Bhutanese population had become alienated from the party.

These constituted the farmers, private sector and civil servants ultimately reflected in the 45-2 result.

At the time some percieved supporters of the PDP were involved in some controversial land dealings with a key and public one being the Phobjika case. These issues along with unofficial slogans like ‘Pha-du-sa-bu-bu-dusa-tsao’ (where the father stays the son stays, and where the son stays the grandson stays) and unofficial word of mouth campaigning and even official insinuations during the campaign period portrayed PDP as a party out to get the very land beneath all farmers feet. Stories like ‘farmers would have to find trees to live in’ only exacerbated this fear.

The private sector was also alienated with the same unofficial message, only this time that all major businesses would go to PDP supporters or the family members of PDP members. This in many ways will explain the unusually high number of industrialists who supported DPT and still do. What did not help PDP was that a few of its industrial supporters were involved in some economic projects where they were seen to have gotten some leeway.

Finally the strongest DPT support base in the 2008 elections were the civil servants who did not need much convincing and by many accounts played a key role in convincing their rural cousins to vote for DPT. For civil servants one key issue was the formation of some powerful bureaucratic cliques allegedly around senior members of the PDP leadership. Though the former President was never accused of Nepotism in helping his family members the main concern was that a few bureaucrats around him who were considered to be  unpopular or unreliable were getting too powerful. It is another matter that these perceived powerful bureaucrat supporters of PDP quickly changed their colors after the 2008 results.

For the civil servants and the intelligentsia alike the PDP was seen as being highly connected to many levers of power in the state and there was concern that there would be excessive concentration of powers among a few if PDP won.

In a Buddhist culture that values humility and in a society still reeling from the effects of His Majesty the Fourth King stepping down and introducing democracy the PDP’s early, aggressive and public campaign was a jarring strategic mistake.

In 2012 it is remarkable how DPT in terms of its public image and actions has pushed itself into the same spot as PDP in 2008.

On land there has been a series of land scam revelations involving DPT ministers and senior party members. The list so far is Gyelpozhing, Chang Ugyen case, Denchi and also other murmurs. It is ironical that the same ministers that won partly on the plank of PDP being linked to land issues were all along themselves involved in the same type of land issues.

In the private sector the ruling government has been accused of outright corruption and Nepotism in favoring business houses close to ruling ministers. The Trowa case, Education City, City Buses, Mining issues and etc are cited by business houses. What will also not help the governments is a perceived anti-private sector attitude with little and late reactions on issues like rupee shortage and liquidity crisis.

The ruling government has become especially unpopular with the civil service for what many see as cases of Nepotism and injustices where a clique of civil servants close to the ruling government get an unfair share of the push upstairs. If civil servants where the biggest supporters of DPT in 2008 they are now the DPT’s biggest stumbling block.

Many of the intelligentsia has realized that  DPT is encouraging  growing concentration of political and economic powers within a few families which was exactly what they wanted to avoid in 2008. The dictatorial style of governance does not help.

A factor which has not been analyzed in 2008 is the media coverage. By international standards Bhutanese media coverage was unbiased and gave largely equal coverage and importance to both parties well within any legal norms. However, the liberal and approachable image of DPT and its media savvy President ensured a subtle media bias towards the DPT in 2008.

In 2012 the policies of the DPT government is the single biggest challenge to the growth and even survival of the media from drastically slashing advertisement budgets, attacking and scolding journalists on a regular basis, developing an increasingly thin skin, and also using its entire state and economic machinery to target critical papers.

Much has been made of the DPT building farm roads, schools and hospitals. It must be remembered that in 2008 one of the biggest reasons why people thought PDP would win was because the former PDP president in his avatars as the Agriculture, Education and Health Minister had single handedly set up numerous schools and hospitals and also built a record number of farm roads exceeding even government targets.

In Bhutan if elections are to be won just on farm roads, hospitals and schools then Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup who exceeded all these targets as ministers in these sectors should have won with a thumping majority over Lyonchhen Jigme Y.  Thinley who held  comparatively less developmental oriented posts like the Foreign Minister and the Home Minister.

These and several other factors have to be factored in before declaring any outright winner or loser.  The 2013 race is much more complicated, open and unpredictable especially with the primary rounds this time and growing problems with the economy. At many levels it is still too early to call sure shot winners and losers.

Which political party comes to power matters a lot in terms of policies, but at the end of the day the success of Bhutanese democracy should not be just incumbent on parties. It has to do with the participation of ordinary citizens not only at the ballot box but also after that to safeguard our collective constitutional rights and freedoms.


Check Also

Education Consultancies

Bhutanese citizens should be free to move to safe countries across the world for studies …


  1. So why did PDP lose and that too with such a huge margin? 
    My answer:
    i. Though the PDP’s member was all knowledgeable yet the leader’s father was said to be grasped the huge chunk of land from Punakha.
    ii. The PDP leader whenever he visited the eastern dzongkhag, the chipens and tsogpas needs to offer  him one
    iii. Villagers still believe that laudable JYT is the most capable man to run the government.
    iv. PDP in 2013 due to OL’s idiosyncrasy may not even even qualify from the first round.
    v. It may sounds ridiculous, but people far back in the village still love JYT and his leadership qualities
    vi. In 2008, if PDP’s leader were other than Sangay Nyidup, then probably, it might not have lost it badly. 

    I know all the members of PDP has interminable crisis of regrets but if they want to contest in 2013 elections, they need to change the leader-not present OL and SN. no bad feelings la…

    • The common man

      when the capable one becomes bad… a hitler is produced…. and our capable man is no less then adolf hitler(literally)

    • yes yes you r 1000% rite, people in the romotest will still love JYT.just coz they r innocent,blind,uneducated,and dont know what JYT did for our country. if we vote for him than we r sure our country will not be the examplery country in the world. than surely their will be have and have not. they promotes their supporters and many people hardly understand this dirty mind with dirty politics.any way pema wangchuk best of luck for JYT

    • Yeah….offering one was there. Otherwise, tour would get sour…

      Before last election, i met a man whose wife was from my village. He was so vehemently supporting PDP and SNL, i looked at his wife’s face and saw blushes.

      She was the one in our village….

  2. Tsk tsk this paper is really desperate in defaming the ruling party.  There is not a single fact or research to support its statements but purely an out pour of feelings and perceptions of the editor.  Yet  a DPT strategist should take this as a positive feedback to better prepare their party for the next election. 

    The “chattering class’ (as this editor wants to call it)  thinks DPT is in good position but all other classes including civil service, private businesses and farmers are not in favor of the party. Where is the ‘chattering class’ then? Thus a nonsense of the editor is proven without doubt. 

    • HEY Phuntsho
      YOU dont have work in office or what, or paid by DPT to write good impression on the media, coz you are only all the time there to support DPT. now it is ok. ur eggo is too much in media.

      • Kado, I don’t know what you do for your living. But whatever you do, you might not being doing even one-twentieth of work that I am doing. So you either shut up or put up. Could you reproduce the comments that I had made in support of  DPT? This is the problem with you and this paper, from the surface you come to the conclusion that this is that and that is this. Why don’t search deeper, try to understand things better, get the opinions of both sides without being biased. Then you could you have a different analysis. With respect to my ‘eggo’ its not bigger than a chicken’s egg but yours certainly seem to as big as Ostrich’s egg which is placed right on your forehead. 

        • seem phuntsho is most eggoist writer on this forum, if you dont like this side
          why you brows this site, it is fool on ur part to blame who write comments
          on this paper and saying this paper is baseless.i do agree that the kado is have
          logical brain and phunstho is having cow dung brain. sorry to comment coz
          you r like dat

  3. PDP is once again lose the battle this time and DPT has the chances of 50% of it’s MPs beings elected for the 2nd term. What does this show???……

  4. Who is the dzongkha news writer of ‘The Bhutanese’? He needs to learn basic spellings and grammar before writing fallacious sentences and paragraphs. 

  5. no matter what me any my whole 25 family members will vote for DPT for sure .. 🙂 

    • who ever wins the election, am not concern much because it does not make much difference.My concern in we don’t want person to lead our country with corrupted blood.Thats is all

  6. hi PDP, if you don’t care on forthcoming time you again losing your election   

  7. This is single opinion of Tenzin Lamzang and his team! May be 5o% of Bhutanese population would support divided into DCT, BKP, DNT, and PDP..50 will be solid on DPT. Civil servants are still all behind my office, there are about 56 civil servants…and more than 40 are still DPT….more than 2008..So again…this paper is baseless…

    theBhutanese is trying its best to knock think you can do?

  8. The common man

    Hats off to this paper
    1. For it’s courage to say ” i don’t lick your shoes, instead i serve public”
    2. Right and balance attitude… good for democracy, good for media houses.
    3. The analysis, I too believe it is the civil servants…. that holds the key for any political party interested in forming a govt. in 2013.
    4. DPT is equal to scams
         DPT is equal to…… trowa….to….. gyelposhing
    Of course, i have nothing against  politics or DPT per say but i am dead against corruption and i am surely guns against people encouraging corruption and DPT has aplenty who encourages that, starting from PM to……Zanglay….of course how can we ever forget the man of the hour and cynosure of all bhutanese…. The Speaker (wiseman who decided to resign to give ways for younger generations… funny?????)

    • What is the style of your story brother? I thought the common man was long dead but here you resurface. I doubt if you are that old common man. No you are not. 

    • per say?? what is this man!! you are real common man knowing nothing…full of dung

      • The common man

        this democracy….welcome to democracy.. people filled with dung (like me) rule the people with brains(like u).. want an example…….. everyone knows…

        • I completely agree to you. No offense!!

          • The common man

            No offence at buddy… you’ll not understand it… wait till it sink in and then i hope you’ll still be telling me .. no offence…

  9. This paper is pouring out too much of their opinion and feelings.If this paper believes,they are not the adviser of the nation and the people within, at least one of employee should be sent to do journalism from a reputed college.And importantly, Editor needs to go back to school.

  10. you mentioned a lot of factors but forgot the JYT factor. He is seen as most capable to lead by most sections of society – hence the all out effort to disqualify him. The other parties stand a chance only if JYT gets disqualified. Should he be disqualified – I wonder what the voter turnout will be because the majority would have been cheated out of their choice of leader.

    • That is the mission of this paper. 

    • YES jyt factor. He was popular that time.But not now like then with so many clouds hanging around his head. I pity our otherwise wise and popular PM

      • Why should you pity the PM who is going to win again in 2013, don’t you think your pity or sadness should be reserved for the more deserving like this paper and the OL.

  11. I endorse this article. I also encouraged my relatives when the called me. And I am going to do it again. Difference is against corrupted leaders.

  12. DPT should be dissolved for  all the allegation on  it, and should have dissolved long back after losing Constitution case to OL,,,, AND I am sure now it will loss its minister and speaker to Gyelpozing and all the civil charges against JYT will be true in monger court …………….just wait  and see……..

    • I and my family will vote for DPT in 2013 even if JYT and other ministers are out of contest.  

      • guest,
        to support a party is your constitutional right and every one has to exercise it. But here the discussion is how PDP lost in 2008!

  13. In my constituency I have 100 families including extended ones…ours votes are for DPT because my families are happy as they got drinking water (tap), electricity, school up-gradate and farm roads. They are happy for community forest, farmer Tshogpa and initiative of building toilets….

    • if you r comfortable than not concern on country mosh, you know how threat created by DPT in their tenure,

    • my extended family is over 50, and the votes goes to DPT even if JYT and other senior ministers are out of contest in 2013. Reason: My family is happy with DPT’s performance.  I am happy in this beautiful country blessed with kind kings and leaders. But sometimes i feel sad for those people who are not satisfied with what our king and govt do. But they will never be happy whoever rule this country and thus die unhappy. 

  14. I think people here are feeling jealous when DPT is fulfilling all its campaign promises. DPT is getting even stronger in 2013 having fresh candidates such as NC chairperson Namgay penjor, Ex-secretary Dr. Gado…and some CEO’s picturing as a candidature of DPT. Soon there will be a headlines in Medias: DPT’s second land slide victory; that time theBhutanese headlines would be: ???? i dont know!

  15. Funny, funny newspaper, I wish was another OL to Tshering Tobgay and easily would have claimed this paper is writing totally baseless isssues but fortunately hope this paper is read by very new people.. as claimed by our OL on another news paper.

    This paper seem to be very good in analysis but unfortunately failing to satisfy the readers because every individual point somehow proves that our present OL and PDP is good in the face of public eye………….never it can happen and will never change the perception of people. Yes we civil servants played greater role in 2008 but not this time, because people know better now than 2008 and know how they will vote.

    Best thing this paper can attract more readers is by coming out and say, it is PDP’s political newspaper and being paid by PDP and kins. Never know what will happen in 2013 elections but PDP with current leader in Tshering Tobgay is no way near DPT and must be prepared to be shunted out by other up-coming parties in the primary round itself. 

  16. i have over 100 members in my family and we have decided that our vote goes to DCT..lets non controversial people give a chances…VOTING FOR DPT WOULD BECOME MONOPOLY OF THE PARTY AND MANY GYELPOSHING LIKE SCAM WILL COMEUP…..AND NOT FOR PDP CZ WE GAVE CHANCE IN 2008 AND PEOPLE HAVE DECIDED THIER FAITH….I URGE ALL BHUTANESE TO VOTE FOR NEW PARTIES………..

    • As soon as DCT comes to power, thebhutanese news papper may report of another land scam involving the ministers. It is possible.

    • PDP will never get vote in future because, they have accused the general voters for giving votes to DPT. They have even challenged the election result by appealing up to His majesty the King. Rather than gracefully accepting the defeat, they tried to make issue in first ever democratic election 2008. Lets see la…

  17. i dnt care whichever party comes in power ……i and my family will vote for those party which raise issue on promise to pass RIGHT TO INFORMATION BILL…… that that as a civil society member i can lodge public interest litigation against govt. institution and corrupt executive and beau crates……..i am waiting for that bill to pass and become ACT…….

  18. “the bhutanese” paper – is this a newspaper or has it become an extended party of PDP? so blatant and shameless in its intensions that they have to resort to such editorials.
    don’t undermine the intelligence of the real bhutanese people and don’t use your media license to mislead and create problems in our country.
    give up already in trying to get JYT out cause you will not succeed. 
    i have an extended family of 150+ and my whole village is voting for DPT once again no matter what charges you bring against them. 

  19. Hahaha..its funny to go thru wen sum people openly(without a guilt)declare ‘my whole family will vote to Dpt’ aren’t we supose to have a secret vote based on individual opinion? Or is thru persuasion or relativity? Its real fun wen one guarantees whole families’ vote to a single party..dat wil be an unholy democrazzy..hahahahaha

    • these are people of olden days. they have no respect for others right. they can promise for others so easily. Ya it is amazing that they publicly declare. May be they are the paid supporters! of dpt….They are ready to flow with the tide. They think more with heart than the cow dung….hahaha we have many funny people and that makes our life interesting and irritating too!

  20. 2013 Media Head Line ” DPT wins Primary Round while PDP is out licking yet another wounds.”

    The Bhutanese Healine, “PDP thinks the polls are rigged because they never expected to lose this or OL resigns as a party president.”

    • defx is another guy who is always trying to irritate. why cannot you be little decent and reasonable…apart from dpt and pdp we are all bhutanese with values like courtesy, decency and respect for others…it seems you are bent on creating problems….dpt has won and many thinks they will win again. it good but you are very egostic and arrogant always….remember that nothing is permanent and all things will decay including dpt and you and me…so let us be nice in our dealings and do not throw your dirty people’s thinking here and contaminate us..

    • defox, i like you 🙂

  21. This media should be named as PDP news …. but you can’t even dare to move a single hair of DPT … DPT ll win for sure..i and my 100+ family members  will vote for  DPT…. 🙂

  22. I and my team will vote for DPT if only they agree to change some ministers especially Education. We want that philosophical ministers out in 2013. In fact we are looking for minister who is good action rather than in philosophies. A minister who can boldly fight for the teachers in the parliament sessions rather than a minister who is struggling to find words to speak in the sessions. A minister who can handle the maximum number of civil service in the ministry rather than a minister who can handle maximum no of literature and philosophies.

  23. Karma "Khang" Tenzin

    I thought News papers were supposed to be apolitical. I may be wrong…
    And guys stop making personal comments. Opinions vary depending on where you look from and what you are looking at. Dear Moderator, I reckon the opinions and views would be more genuine and authentic if identifying infromation about the commentors are shared publicly.

  24. Despite the best attempts made by this paper, me and my family votes goes to DPT. I don’t know how they came to the conclusion that majority of population are not happy with DPT. did they do a survey? All said and done, there can be no leader like JYT and no party like DPT. DPT will be there for the next five years too leading the nation. So sorry to this single opinion of the editor brought out as nation’s opinion.

  25. There are many faithfuls who are still with PDP and are working hard. They are not dented by what happened in 2008. It is politics and anyhting can happen.I am sure many will vote for PDP in 2013. We never know, pdp CAN EVEN WIN IN 2013. But PDP has to have good media strategis to counter every allegation with facts and remain silient like in 2008. Let us see…..

  26. and not remain silent.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *