On ECB’s side

Elections are the single most important part of a democracy. They allow people to participate in the democratic process by directly choosing who they want as their representatives in the parliament. And they provide political legitimacy to elected representatives and to democratic governments. That’s why it’s important to allow as many people as possible to take part in elections.

So, naturally, I’m happy to hear that the Election Commission has decided to allow Bhutanese citizens living in America to use postal ballots in the next elections. They were not allowed to do so in the past, and, as such, most of them could not exercise their right to vote. I applaud the ECB’s decision, and am fully committed to supporting any initiative that makes it easier for even more of our people to take part in the democratic process.

But I am alarmed at the ECB’s justification for their decision. The chief election commissioner has gone on record to state that the ECB’s decision was “the result of the commitment prime minister made during one of his visits as the head of the government.”

The prime minister cannot alter the electoral system; only parliament can.

What ECB can do, and must do, as long as it is within the framework of our electoral laws, is improve the system to encourage and allow more of our people to exercise the their franchise. But what ECB does, they must do because they feel it is in the best interest of democracy, and not as a “result of the commitment” that a politician may have made.

Otherwise, ECB may be seen to be taking sides. And that won’t be good for democracy.

 

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Comments

  1. Hon’ble OL, I think you got the point and I second you on this.As mentioned by you,ECB needs to improve the electoral system by allowing more people to take part in the election.

    If I remembered during the last election in 2008 ECB didn’t allowed corporate employees to cast their votes through postal ballots. ECB should know that in Bhutan there are more corporate workers than civil servant.

    I hope this will not happen in the next round in 2013.

  2. that participation in elections & voting is key in a democracy is undisputed..if pm jthinley can visit nyc & commit that bhutanese working & living in the us are allowed the postal ballot, why can’t this arrangement be made for those within bhutan & other countries even..those in the us are working there as their choice & are illegals having violated us immigration laws anyway..
    there are 1000s within bhutan itself for whom visiting their constituency entails extra costs, arrangements where spouses are from different constituencies & would opt for postal balloting given the opportunity..
    pm jthinley is almost rewarding bhutanese who are violating us laws & ignoring genuine grievances of those who wish to avail this option back home.. and yes, ecb cannot imlement something just because a politician has made a commitment..ecb is there to ensure free & fair elections..

  3. Observer says:

    I fully agree with Topden. It is a good innitiation by ECB to allow postal ballots to our beloved Bhutanese living in the US. However, there are so many of us in Europe and Australia and around, who are studing and working, and are always looking forward for the best of our democratic system. But due to the moments being out of the nation or even with in as stated by Topden, voting does not demand physical apperance as long as the ballot is authentic. There for we pledge and see it even as a merit to the ones over sea beside of our friends and family in the US. Or even to the ones who are in the country, when transportation is still of vital pain in regards to cost and economical values.

  4. if it is good for the country and people, it is immaterial whether the idea/commitment originated from gov or opp or any citizen, it should be appreciated for it….ECB is just acknowledging the fact, and i am sure ECB would have appreciated even if opposition has initiated or committed such good thing instead of barking at every move government makes!

  5. For free and fair election results, we need to allow maximium people to participate in the election.

    In this regard, i appreciate ECB for extending postal ballots for the bhutanese residing in USA.
    On the other hand, ECB need to do more to persuade people living in the country to cast vote through various comfortable means.(extending postal ballot facilities to all the voters irrespective of private, corporate or civil servants.
    we too understand that postal ballot is expensive but ECB can arrange with Bhutan Post with some subsidies since its for our country and we should not fear of the cost if our election process should be true and fair.

  6. Pinkponk says:

    This should not be allowed. No political party can go and influence bhutanese illegally/legally living in NYC except PM n his other ministers. The PM has already bribed them and now if wants postal ballot to be issued to bhutanese in NYC, it is illegal and we will take them to court.

  7. like the above ECB should allow people living in other countries and corporate and private offices to cast their votes as well.
    Another suggestion is to allow people to vote in whichever dzongkhags they are living in and not necessarily go to their constituency to vote which will automatically reduce the postal ballot.

    Another suggestion to the general public is to vote for the candidate they see fit and not look at the Party President.I am not in favor of any party but for the person i see will bring good changes or development in my constituency. I hardly go to my village but would love to see development for the betterment of my village folks and in turn the development of the nation on the whole.

  8. Dear OL,
    Please, do not use your personal grudge against PM on such useful forum. Learn to appreciate the good things done though your job is to oppose only. Is it rationale to to accuse the government in every good or bad deed? Do you know that so many citizens are watching your attitude towards the government? What’s wrong when Ecb acknowledges that PM actually did. This comment is also going to hurt the ECB officials. When you complained about the rupee crunch, it hurts all the finance officials more than the government. When you complained about the health drug shortage, it hurt all the health officials. So, are you going to hurt all the civil servants in your quest to hurt the government. You may be trying to undermine the government, but many of us feel that it would do equal harm on you.

  9. Dear OL,
    I agree with you completely, and I fear the intent of your post seems to have evaded some of the previous commenters.

    We all tend to forget what should be a clear line between the extent of a politicians capacity within their brief stints as policymakers and institutions like the Election Commission that are and should be above mere politics.

    We must remember that people like the Honorable? PM and our Respected? Ministers and MPs are, at the end of the day, mere politicians who when their terms are up will be replaced by yet another group of politicians. In the long term, the politicians we elect won’t matter, what matters are the laws and institutions we build for our posterity.

    And Mr. PALDEN DRUKPA, perhaps your solution would be for all of us to build one giant play house ala Barney the Dinosaur’s and sing, “I love you, You love me……”

  10. Quite often some of the readers have asked some questions to the OL but found no response(s). I personally feel that OL should respond if the reader has raised pertinent issues. For instance some one have asked whether OL was equally benefited with the perks that was offered to Cabinet Ministers in one of the post. It should be a two way communication

  11. Constitution says:

    If I were in Mr OL’s position, I’m sure i will be searching for edge of an egg. This is what exactly our OL is doing his job, barking at any step the gov. is taking.

    Be it for good or bad reason, it only shows the path he is leading us is something we see on day-today what the politicians are doing in some of the states/country around us.

    He does this because he do not have political mandate like the one the gov. does of fulfilling their promises to the electorate. So what can he do, at the max, try to stop the activities taken up by the gov….. thats all thats all his work.. so surprises and m sure there will be like minded people who understands our OL’s intention equally to his appreciators.

    So as Norbu has mentioned, Mr. OL should respond to the query’s not only put things in the blog to sensationalize the people.

  12. I think the PM and the cabinet respect the OL much more than otherwise. Athe end of the day, it attitude that counts. People know who does what and what is right or wrong. Sometimes the government is right but sometimes not. Where as, the OL finds everything wrong. As he does not respect others, he also does not deserve it. I always remember our fourth king’s message, the opposition party’s role is to help the government instead of undermining it as its often done in the other countries.

  13. Pelden Drukpa, please don’t say “we” or “us”. I for one don’t share your right wing views. Yours and PM’s fear tactic is not going to fool me twice.

  14. Constitution says:

    Exercising our Right to CHOOSE the people to the parliament is indeed not coerced by way of injecting fear on the electorate.

    There were instances in 2008 election of injecting fear on people and hence got almost “no existance” in the parliament.

    Now, I fear it will get perished in the next election but no worries new parties are coming up….haha

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