Bhutanese Democracy has won!!

Bhutanese Democracy has won!!

 Bhuchung K. Tsering

Last night, I went to bed comparatively late by my standard, after watching a portion of the Tonight Show by Jay Leno, but got up quite early this morning. Today is a Saturday and I could have got up leisurely, but I was keen on electronically following the results of the elections in Bhutan that was taking place today.

The July 13, 2013 elections were the second general elections since Bhutan became a democracy in 2008.  The first elections resulted in a lopsided parliament with the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) winning almost all of the seats, with just two seats won by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which formed the opposition.

In the course of the past few years, Bhutan took steady steps towards strengthening of its democratic experience.  In the Parliament the small opposition, under parliamentarian Tshering Tobgay, played its constitutional role very seriously.

Unlike in the past when the King was the sole and predominant symbol of the Bhutanese nation, the elected Lyonchhen or the Prime Minister began to assume a higher profile, domestically and internationally, in matters of governance of the country.

The Bhutanese people were gradually tasting the fruit of democracy and learning to adapt to it; something that is novel considering that most of the older generation have grown up in a society whereby they have only learnt to respect, and not question, authority, just in the case of the Tibetan society.

Today the Bhutanese people showed once again that they can adapt quite well to democracy, thank you.  They have shown a desire for change and in the process raised their expectations of their elected leadership.  PDP has, at the time of writing, won more than the minimum number of seats needed to form the government.  But at the same time, the DPT has won a sizable number of seats to form a vibrant opposition.

Mr. Tshering Tobgay, the opposition leader in the previous Parliament, is sure to be the new Lyonchhen. It will be an interesting time for the coming years. Given political differences his tenure will not be as easy as that of the previous Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley because of the increased strength of the new opposition.

Whatever be the case, today’s development is a sign of the maturity of Bhutanese democracy, which is the ultimate winner. As many Bhutanese have commented: Palden Drukpa Gyalo!!

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