The newly formed Social Democratic Party (SDP) is not a socialist party but follows principles of social democracy stressing on justice, freedom and solidarity, the spokesperson Dr Tandi Dorji told The Bhutanese.
This clarification comes at a time after certain quarters felt that the party was toeing a socialist line. This is because people think social democracy is the same as socialism.
Though his party supports privatization, it would not be at the cost of already existing welfare institutions like education and health. “The private sector needs the freedom to realize its dreams, but it will not affect the services that people already receive,” he clarified.
And when there is a gap between the have and the have- nots, the government has to show its solidarity with the poor, he said.
SDP will focus more on sectors like free health care, education, trade and the basic needs of the common people; the party’s main guiding principle is a liberal policy which comes somewhere in between capitalism and socialism. He also explained that socialism emerged as capitalism could not provide the basic needs of man.
“We are going to encourage privatization but at the same time we will strike a balance as we cannot stop people from growing rich; we believe in freedom but we are definitely going to balance it by applying progressive taxation on the rich,” said Dr Tandi Dorji.
DPT does not listen
to people, says SDP’s
DPT misinterpreted GNH
Gross National Happiness, a development philosophy with Bhutanese values, has been misinterpreted by DPT as an ideology, said the SDP spokesperson.
When His Majesty the Fourth King propounded GNH, he never talked about it as an ideology but considered it a development vision, which Bhutan must strive for, he added.
Asked on the shortcomings of DPT, he said the ruling party should know that the people elect them. The party introduced plans like five star hospitals, education city and the medical college. It was borne from the minds of a few DPT people.
“These are not dreams for the people of Bhutan,” Dr Tandi Dorji said. Local experts had ruled out such projects, and then DPT brings in McKinsey to prove that they are right.
He said it could have happened because the top DPT leadership has worked in a government system where their actions have not been questioned.
“They didn’t listen to the people,” he said adding that if there was one time when the government heeded the people’s voice, it was in regard to the Tobacco Act.
If SDP comes to power
Though SDP has said that they would strive to be a powerful opposition, the party already
has their priorities set if it comes to power.
Regarding foreign relations, the party considers India as its closest ally and friend. Rural-urban migration will receive a major focus. One major area of concern for the party is water issues. If there is scope for another ministry, it would be for water and environment, Dr Tandi Dorji said.
SDP agrees that state funding is unconstitutional but feels that the upcoming political parties need to survive. “It’s impossible for a party to survive when there is no other means,” he said, “ so the two houses could come to a consensus on state funding.” Though a red rose is traditionally considered as a symbol of social democratic parties, SDP will have a plant as its symbol.