Some thoughts on the upcoming 2018 polls

Keep it real

As the 2018 polls come around the corner, I can understand that politicians will want to give it their all.

However, they should avoid setting impossibly high standards of piety or overnight development, and in the process raise unrealistic expectations.

Democracy is not a silver bullet to our problems. Bhutanese democracy, like democracies elsewhere, is in fact slow, requires negotiation and understanding between people, leaders and institutions, is frustrating at times, is wasteful with resources and is not very efficient in the short term.

Bhutan needs its politicians to stop pretending they know everything or have a solution to all our problems. None of them do.

Unrealistically high voter expectations can only end in disappointment and disillusionment, neither of which are good for a young democracy.

What we need from our politicians and political parties is to tell it as it is and then offer realistic options and solutions.

Democracy, at the same time, cannot be just about offering more farm roads as it is so much more.

Parties should layout their plans to realistically strengthen our sovereignty, unity, economy, civil liberties, democratic institutions, democratic culture and more.

Politicians and parties should avoid trying to mollycoddle or spoil voters, but let them know that we cannot achieve anything substantial without everyone pitching in.

Replacing candidates and the Southern angle

Of the 12 candidates replaced by PDP so far (excluding the Speaker and Mingbo Dukpa who have crossed the age limit) around eight are from the Southern Districts.

Incidentally, anti-incumbency seems to be very high in the South, where in 2013, all sitting MPs lost their seats, including two ministers. No other ministerial candidate from DPT lost anywhere else.

I am not commenting on the capability of the replaced candidates, but the south seems to have a very high level of political awareness and a high standard of performance.

In my analysis, PDP will be in a whole lot of trouble if they lose the south in 2018 or at least big parts of it, and so they seem to be taking zero chances by fielding new faces there at the slightest hint of trouble.

Now, only poll day will give the answer to the effectiveness of such a strategy.

The importance of the President and Vice President Debate in the Primary round

For the 2018 Primary round, the President and Vice President debate, I believe, will make a significant impact.

It will not only be watched and listened to live, but will also be covered widely by the media and the social media.

More importantly, the debates will allow voters to distinguish and compare between the Presidents and Vice Presidents and their parties.

It will create or destroy perceptions about the party leaders, and perception is important in politics.

I draw this conclusion based on the 2013 Primary round debates between the Presidents and Vice Presidents, that had a lingering impact.

So a good performance, either through a fire and brimstone speech or a calm and mature presentation, will decide the winner or winners of the debate. Those suffering from a loss of cool or presence of mind will be on the losing end.

The maximum pressure, as in 2013, will be on the incumbent Prime Minister and to some extent on the Opposition Leader, as the two new Presidents set out to present themselves as the alternatives.

By Tenzing Lamsang

The writer is the Editor of the paper

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