The Election Commission of Bhutan have now completed seven rounds of elections. Of the seven, last Monday’s local government elections was by far the largest and most complex. It was also the most successful.
ECB officials, including those in the dzongkhags, worked round the clock, for months on end, to organize the elections. They were assisted by about 150 senior civil servants who were on deputation since early April this year to work as observers and returning officers.
And more than 5,500 election officials, most of them teachers, were trained and dispatched to man the 1,103 polling stations located throughout our country.
In addition, thousands of workers contributed their services indirectly. They were the ones who kept our roads open, telephones working, banks running and electricity functioning. Plus countless security personal worked to ensure the safety of the elections.
On poll day, despite the rains, a decent 56% of registered voters turned up to cast their ballots. Of the 2,185 candidates who contested the elections, 1,105 won becoming gups, mangmis, tshogpas and thromde thuemis in accordance with the Constitution.
The mammoth exercise cost the State Nu 225 million. But the election is worth the money. And worth the time. And the huge effort.
Why? Because the Constitution requires “… elected Local Governments to facilitate the direct participation of the people in the development and management of their own social, economic and environmental well-being”. And that, in short, is what our democracy is all about.
Incidentally, the first elections that the ECB conducted was the “mock elections” on 21st April 2007 in which “Druk Yellow Party” and “Druk Red Party” emerged as the two leading parties.
On 28th May 2007, ECB conducted another “mock election” in which the “Druk Yellow Party” trounced the “Druk Red Party” winning 46 of the 47 constituencies.
On 31st December 2007, the ECB conducted the National Council elections, which became the first elections to be conducted under the Constitution. On 29th January 2008, National Council elections were held for the 5 dzongkhags that did not have sufficient candidates earlier.
On 24th March 2008, the first general elections to the National Assembly was conducted in which DPT clobbered the PDP winning 45 of the 47 constituencies.
And on 21st January 2011, Thromde elections were conducted in the four so-called “Class A” thromdes.
The banner, featuring voters in Meewang gewog’s Khasatrapchu polling station, celebrates the successes of the Election Commission of Bhutan.