The power of social media, how will it play 2013?

Intricate details explored and discussed repeatedly among a multitude of internet users on the-then infamous and highly active bhutantimes.com, people believe, had strongly brought down the popularity of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and eventually played a most crucial role to ring the death knell for the party who lost the elections in all but two constituencies.

Away from Bhutan and across the seas Barack Obama made history when he became the first ever African-American US President. Both US and international media attributed his success to the internet and social media through which fans and voters felt ‘connected’ to the presidential candidate.

Love it or loath it, internet is a most powerful medium to proliferate messages, beliefs, to market brands, products etc.

The use of social media is highly visible and has picked-up in utility among Bhutan’s movers and shakers who shape policies which affect the general public and the nation.

The up-and-coming political parties and the existent ruling and opposition parties all make their presence visible through one or the other medium online.

However, out of five political parties including the new ones, only the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) have their own websites.

Facebook and Twitter are the two main forums for people and interest groups who strive to proliferate and popularize their causes, opinions or messages.

A Facebook page called ‘Social Democracy in Bhutan’ formed by the people who support the idea of Socialist Democracy principles is the buzzword for those brimming to express themselves. Given that the next election lurks around the corners of 2012, parody accounts, profile under aliases, incognito users currently talk politics, or criticize policies on Twitter and Social Democracy page.

The Social Democracy page has reached a membership high of 3061 while Twitter with every other user who comments on nation’s development policies to MP’s out-of-office behaviors is a foreground to critique the government in cyberspace.

The DPT Secretary General Thinley Gyamtsho, said social media is a good way to  educating people who have access to internet, because it is faster than most media. He however said “people get too personal online which is not really good”.

He said the DPT website therefore does not highlight the problems.

A core member of the DNT said without formal registration with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) the party can only be active on the social media.

“It is an open forum. Nothing is personal, and we have learnt that people want a government who listens to the people,” said the DNT member.

He also said that the party manifesto and strategies are framed taking into consideration the general issues highlighted in the social media.

The spoke person for Bhutan Kuengyam Party (BKP) Sonam Tobgay said, social media is helpful only for the handful of urbanites and 20 to 30% of urban people do not have access to internet

The Opposition MP Damcho Dorji acknowledged the importance of being on social media since it is a good way to reach-out to the voters indirectly. The PDP’s website is currently under maintenance to further improve its performance.

“It is a good mode to educate the public on various concerns but we have not decided to work on the website, may be later,” said the Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) spoke person Tandin Tshering.

He however believed that such a media cannot change people’s perceptions, overnight to such an extent that a certain party should win or lose.

“There were mainly two factors for DPT landslide victory in 2008; first the president and second the efforts put by the workers,” he said.

“Yes, definitely social media will play the major role in determining the election result. I do not read newspaper but keep myself up-to-date through online forum which is very useful and there would be so many like me,” said Tshering, a recent graduate from Sherubtse college

An activist observed that Facebook and other social sites are very effective but then it’s available only to those who have access to internet.

“In Bhutan I don’t think it’s such a great idea to reach out to the people,” supplemented the activist.

A foreigner who worked in Bhutan for the last four years said if they are using it for fundraising then they have to declare their finances to election commission as per existing laws. Other than that, it’s a good way to reach people.

“I think if there’s freedom of speech guaranteed by constitution then they can use any medium of communication.But triumph for DPT cannot be attributed to social media., There are other factors,” said the foreigner.

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16 comments

  1. the thing is that the 2008 shouldn’t repeat for good of the people.

  2. social democracy is a page where all disgruntled negative people meet.

  3. it’s the ‘disgruntled’ page where all the DPT members and supporters will gather after they lose in 2013. 

  4. haha. apakado you wait for that day. May be u will have to take several rebirths

  5. my point is, regardless of the number of rebirths you claim, once it happens all the jobless DPT workers will make a beeline for social media sites to start their whining. It’s human nature. In the US the Republicans are whining while they are out of power, and the Democrats did the same when George Bush was in power.

    I believe the DPT partyworkers were also very active when the PDP was expected to win in 2008. It’s as cyclical as the cycle of life.

  6. I have met them, those lobbies who are behind scene to forming the social democratic party. Their idoelogy is based on greed and jealousy. I am afraid people supporting the party and working with the party never knew the role of ‘lobbies’ in politics.
    At the very basics, lobbies will have the control over the party and candidates: if they win all candidates are bound to push forwards bills and policies pushed by the lobbies.
    The general public should discuss issues seriously, that is how we prove we are entering the electronic and online age. We are already behind in social networks.

  7. I have seen Namrup’s future and it’s made of glass. These eight people will not be heroes but Zero by June 2013. Who believes that rich should be made poorer to make poor richer? Thats is total bullshit.

  8. social democracy in Bhutan? Does anyone understand what socialist do?
    Think a bit, its Constitutional Monarchy that our constitution accepts and not all sorts of crap.
    Sad to remind, those forming parties donot know the law.
    Seems an insane makes other insane.
    Choose to retract rather than regret.

  9. Sharchop Zamin

    I would love to see another government next time but its high time that political parties plan and say what can be applied. Who do you think will vote a socialist, we dont want to grow richer at the cost of others wealth, they wont make us richer by losing their stand.

  10. Social democracy has behind it all the people who have changed jobs after jobs without any success. They have just renamed the party to nyamrup. All selfish people who dont even have a days’ experience of running a govt.

    • Now you guys have finally seen the light. Yes everything is not about the PDP. You have other challengers as well. Anti-DPT does not nec mean proPDP. There are other challengers and good or bad, I think enough people will vote based on their being fed up with the DPT.

      • Now at least, admit you are a PDP supporter and talking about the other party, one is formed by ex PDP candidates that certainly saw no future being with your party. So my advice to you is to go and do some good work for the party instead of wasting your time here, we certainly would not want the demise of Bhutan’s first political party to happen so soon.

  11. The Bhutanese will be one online forum to go the way http://www.bhutantimes.com went if the current people form government again. I am afraid if BIMCA which is a government agency has full control over media content, this will be a warning sign for facebook, linked.com and twitter users. Who knows if this platforms will be blocked as wel?
    They need to be blocked or else someone who is anti-DPT may have a good time with the party’s supporters.
    No one wonders much when PDP leader and deputy leaders were running from pole to post to see if any parties were willing to take them in, thats good. We just need two parties beside DPT.
    If ap kado and monk were to work together with a common goal i see they will make a difference, but supporting DPT at this moment is deemed a mistake, PDP is just another name because the party doesnot even have enough candidates forget about exicutive body, and other necessities rather it is drowned in debt.
    No supporters are supposed to pay for their negligence, how does a party incur such huge losses unless some corruption were ingrained?
    The five parties still have a choice if they want to win, if five parties come against DPT believe me, it is sure DPT will be benifitted. Understand complexity theory to understand how, chaos will form a strange attractor an strange attractor has a tendency to adjust its equillibrium, the DPT has larger possibilities of gaining the possibilities of creating a strong equillibrium if many other parties come.
    Dont make fools out of yourself, I wish no one supported the current government for all that is done is seen and nothing is as good as it had been.
    If you are supporting, may be you are disguised member seeking to benifit yourself, there is enough for everyone in the universe and working pro-egocentric parties will just make some more equal than other, and give some more than enough at the cost of others’.

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