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The Fourth NA Primary Election of 2023 witnessed Surge in Civic Engagement Despite Slight Dip in Voter Turnout

โ€ฆ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’ ๐’—๐’๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’๐’–๐’“๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’†๐’๐’†๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’…๐’” ๐’‚๐’• 63%, ๐’“๐’†๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’†๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‚ ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’“๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’๐’‚๐’ ๐’…๐’†๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’”๐’† ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐’•๐’‰๐’† 66.36% ๐’“๐’†๐’„๐’๐’“๐’…๐’†๐’… ๐’Š๐’ 2018

Phurpa Wangmo

In a noteworthy development for Bhutan’s democratic landscape, a surge in conscientious civic participation is evident as an increasing number of Bhutanese citizens actively engage in the electoral process.

Despite this positive trend, the primary round of the Fourth National Assembly (NA) Elections 2023, conducted on November 30, experienced a slight decline in voter turnout compared to the Third National Assembly (NA) Elections 2018. The overall voter turnout for the fourth primary election stands at 63%, representing a marginal decrease from the 66.36% recorded in 2018. Out of the total 497,058 eligible registered voters, a substantial 313,162 voters exercised their right to vote, actively influencing the nation’s future.

During the primary round for the fourth National Assembly elections in 2023, 313,162 voters expressed their views across 47 constituencies in 20 Dzongkhags, resulting in a 63% voter turnout. This underlines the ongoing commitment of the Bhutanese populace to the democratic process.

Breaking down the modes of voting, 195,719 votes were cast in person using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at 809 polling stations, while 117,443 votes were cast through Postal Ballots (including In-country & Overseas) and Special Early Voting (SEV). The diverse participation in these methods underlines the adaptability and inclusivity of the electoral process.

The 313,162 voters comprised 158,237 female voters and 154,925 male voters, showcasing a balanced representation from both genders and highlighting the inclusivity of Bhutanese democracy.

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) initially registered a total of 497,058 voters for the primary elections in 2023, with 254,843 female registered voters and 242,215 male registered voters.

The Peopleโ€™s Democratic Party (PDP), having garnered the highest number of valid votes, and the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP), securing the next highest number of valid votes in the Primary Round, are set to compete in the upcoming General Elections of 2023-2024.

Following the formal declaration of the Primary Round results, the Election Commission of Bhutan has invited the two Political Parties securing the highest and next highest total number of votes to nominate one candidate each in all 47 National Assembly Demkhongs. This is in preparation for the upcoming General Elections as mandated by electoral laws. The nominated candidates will commence filing their Nomination Papers with the respective Returning Officer from December 4, 2023, to December 9, 2023.

Additionally, the three political parties โ€“ Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), and Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT) โ€“ that contested the Primary Round are reminded to file the Returns of Election Expenses within thirty days of the official declaration of the Primary Round results. This must be completed no later than December 31, 2023, with submissions directed to the concerned Dzongkhag Election Office or the Public Election Fund Division of the ECB.

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