…𝑷𝑫𝑷 𝒐𝒖𝒕𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒔 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒉𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒐𝒎𝒊𝒄 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒈𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒔𝒕 100 𝒅𝒂𝒚𝒔, 𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒖𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒈 30 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒕𝒖𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒊𝒆𝒔; 𝑩𝑻𝑷 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒖𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒍𝒆𝒈𝒊𝒔𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒃𝒖𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒂𝒃𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒚
Krishna Kumar Sanyasi
The People’s Democratic Party has emerged as the dominant force in the recent National Assembly Elections 2023-2024 general round, securing victories in 30 constituencies and showcasing vibrant democratic enthusiasm. Meanwhile, the Bhutan Tendrel Party, positioned to assume the role of the opposition party, secured the support of seventeen constituencies.
During the election, the People’s Democratic Party received a total of 179,652 votes, with 126,686 cast via electronic voting machines (EVM) and 52,966 through postal ballots. On the other hand, the Bhutan Tendrel Party secured 147,123 votes, with 91,587 from electronic ballots and 55,536 from postal ballots.
Phub Dorji, the Director of the Secretariat at the Election Commission of Bhutan, extends his sincere appreciation to all individuals who played a role in ensuring the successful execution of the Fourth National Assembly Elections.
Voter participation in the general round of the Fourth National Assembly Elections increased from 63% in the primary round, conducted on November 30 the previous year, to 65.6%. However, this figure indicates a decrease of approximately 6% compared to the 2018 elections, which saw an unprecedented 71.46% voter turnout.
The general round saw the participation of 326,775 Bhutanese citizens. Approximately 108,502 votes were cast via postal ballots, and 218,273 were cast via electronic ballots (EVM), according to the final electoral register of the Election Commission of Bhutan, which also includes the names of 498,135 eligible registered voters.
The General Secretary of PDP said, “In our manifesto, we’ve laid out a strategic roadmap to tackle Bhutan’s pressing economic issues head-on. Unemployment and inflation are on our radar, and we’ve got plans. One of our key strategies involves boosting manufacturing and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) through the creation of Special Economic Zones and Autonomous Economic Areas. Additionally, we are diving deep into the financial realm.
Our sights are set on revamping the banking and financial systems, making them more welcoming to the private sector. And when it comes to foreign workers, we’re streamlining the recruitment process to make it smoother. Our focus isn’t solely on big industries; we aim to champion Cottage and Small Industries (CSI) products, pushing them into international export markets. We’ve got a bold policy too: every government agency will be mandated to purchase Bhutanese products, promoting local goods through a “Buy Bhutanese Product” initiative. Furthermore, we are eyeing support for industries like steel and cement, understanding their potential to generate much-needed jobs. Our aim is to chip away at the unemployment problem by fostering growth in these sectors. Our manifesto isn’t just a plan; it’s a commitment. The PDP is dedicated to steering Bhutan toward sustainable economic growth, and these initiatives are our compass.”
“The People’s Democratic Party has emphasized transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement in our manifesto. The party aims to establish a dedicated CSI window to promote international export markets for CSI products and introduce a “Buy Bhutanese Product” policy, mandating all government agencies to procure Bhutanese products. The PDP also plans to provide special support to entrepreneurs investing in businesses outside the country. These initiatives reflect the PDP’s commitment to promoting local businesses and engaging citizens in the country’s economic growth. Additionally, Bhutan’s democracy has shown strong signs of horizontal accountability, with the National Assembly and the National Council functioning well. Our manifesto also emphasizes the importance of responsible citizenship, with Bhutanese people taking on more responsibility for governance. These initiatives underscore the PDP’s commitment to fostering transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement during its tenure,” he added.
In the first 100 days of its term, the newly elected government, as outlined in PDP Pledge 13: Empowering Progress through Immediate Actions, has articulated a multifaceted agenda aimed at revitalizing Bhutan’s economy and addressing the needs of its citizens. Among the prominent initiatives are the establishment of Saturdays as ‘off-days’ for teachers and students to promote work-life balance, a revised tenancy agreement ensuring residency for Changjiji colony residents until retirement, and the abolition of the Nu.10 fee for Bhutanese entering via the Phuentsholing gateway to facilitate seamless travel. The formation of the Economic Development Board, chaired by the Prime Minister, is anticipated to drive economic revival, supported by a 15 billion ESP stimulus plan encompassing banking support, special loan schemes for various demographics, rural area economic growth investments, and a dedicated credit window for CSIs. Business facilitation measures include a comprehensive review of regulatory processes to remove barriers and enhance operational efficiency, while revisions to the FDI policy aim to attract substantial investments, particularly in the small and medium sector. The government also plans to implement a customized performance measurement system for teachers, explore SDF waivers for tourists in southern border towns, task Bhutanese embassies with boosting inbound tourism, and set a specific action plan to achieve 300,000 inbound tourists annually. Furthermore, a sub-committee will be established to regularize contract employees, ensuring job security, and feasibility studies will be conducted for constructing five strategic airstrips across the country to enhance connectivity.
The Party Official of BTP said, “The opposition’s primary objective is to contribute constructively to the legislative process and hold the government accountable for its actions. This pivotal role involves thorough scrutiny of any bills presented, ensuring a meticulous examination of proposed legislation. The opposition is committed to calling for government attention whenever necessary to address issues faced by the people, thereby actively participating in shaping policies and decisions that impact the well-being of the citizens.”
“There are many issues and challenges confronting the progress of our country, and our manifesto outlines most of the solutions. Despite being a new party that is only a year old, our people have given us the mandate to represent them in Parliament. We will listen to people’s voices, engage with them to realize their hopes, and help the government make informed decisions that reflect our national interest. We will work closely with every stakeholder to build a prosperous Bhutan and represent our people responsibly in the parliament,” he shared.
He further added, “We will also ensure that the government and the ruling party function in accordance with the laws of the land to provide good governance, strive to promote the national interest, and fulfill the aspirations of the people. We will engage in constructive and responsible debate in the parliament, serving as a dignified and strong opposition while providing alternative solutions and policies to address national issues. BTP will support the government in fulfilling the Royal vision and aspirations of our people, rendering our full cooperation in times of external threats, natural calamities, or crises. We aim to emerge as a strong opposition.”
The public expresses a mix of optimism, curiosity, and expectation as the newly elected government and opposition prepare to shape the future of Bhutan.
The Chief of one of the CSOs stated, “The election results were expected, and the general anticipation was that PDP would win. However, the region-wise victories may have heightened the sense of regionalism within the country. BTP winning 17 constituencies is a positive indication that people are not inclined towards a single party. Considering the track record of PDP, expectations are high, and we are confident that PDP will deliver on their pledges without fail.”
Tenzin Wangmo, a resident of Zhemgang said, “It’s interesting to see the People’s Democratic Party securing a dominant victory.