As the anticipation builds for the upcoming National Assembly Elections 2023-2024, people across the country are actively debating amongst themselves to express their opinions on which political parties are performing well, and to predict the potential winners. The sentiments are diverse, reflecting a range of perspectives on past achievements, manifestos, and the perceived authenticity of the competing parties.
Dorji, hailing from Lhuentse, highlighted the significance of experience in the political arena. He expressed that while all parties are doing well and there’s room for improvement. In his view, the top three contenders are Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP), Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), and People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
A resident of Samdrupjongkhar, Chandra, commended the PDP for its past achievements and practical manifesto. He emphasized on the importance of genuine commitments, and said, “PDP doesn’t have an endless bragging manifesto, but a doable one.” This sentiment underlines a desire for tangible and achievable promises rather than magnificent pledges.
Tenzin Wangmo from Trashigang noted regional affiliations, and said, “Easterners are supporting Tendrel since its president is from there.”
Tenzin also mentioned that doctors and health staff seem to be supportive of Nyamrup, emphasizing the role of professional affiliations in influencing political choices. According to her, BTP seems to have true potential referring to the BTP manifesto.
DNT, cannot be ruled out as people remember it gratefully for protecting them from COVID though the state of the economy is a challenge for them.
Sonam from Mongar feels that DPT will be one of the parties going through to the final round. She said that the party has an emotional connect with many voters, especially in the east, despite the entry of new parties there.
The strength of DPT’s base can be gauged from the fact that many civil servants come openly on social media to support the party.
A taxi driver from Wangdue Phodrang, Chimi, expressed skepticism about unrealistic promises. He said, “Listening to things that are not doable by the parties, such as the construction of a hospital in a foreign land, is quite hilarious. He emphasized the importance of trust, and the need for parties to make achievable commitments, especially in areas like healthcare.”
A prevailing sentiment among citizens is a lack of faith in the potential for real change, with many expressing the belief that all governments may ultimately be the same. The desire for consistency between party manifestos and actions was a common theme, with citizens expressing the need for parties to adhere to their promises.
The issue of regional disparities in party support was also evident, with rural areas seemingly favoring PDP due to its history of providing incentives, such as Boleros and power tillers.
In contrast, urban areas showed less support.
A call for realistic pledges emerged consistently throughout discussions. People stressed the importance of addressing real problems, such as population retention and growth, rather than focusing solely on infrastructure and economic indicators. The need for rational solutions that delve deeper into systemic issues was emphasized.
Despite the attractiveness of various party manifestos, citizens expressed frustration with a lack of clarity regarding the parties’ capabilities to deliver on their promises.
Ashok from Chukha highlighted the Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT)’s manifesto as being the best, urging consideration for new parties to be given a chance. The DTT manifesto has caught the imagination of many young people and especially those with family in Australia.
The debate performance of the President has also helped the party.
As the election fervor sweeps through the nation, opinions vary widely. Tshering Selden, a Thimphu resident, observed a preference for BTP, while Puja noted that PDP is likely to make it to the final round.
In the midst of the heated debate among the public, concerns about the accessibility of voting emerged in discussions with people. Many expressed the difficulty of returning to their villages to vote, citing it as a significant expense for their families.