Only seven are women

A total of 128 aspiring National Council candidates including seven women from all 20 dzongkhags have registered with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) for a seminar on election rules, which will be held next month.

September 20 was the last date for aspiring candidates to register with the commission. The seminars, according to the commission will help the aspiring candidates to prepare for the elections.

Among the registered, 94 have a Bachelors degree, 28 have a Masters degree, five are postgraduates, while one has a doctorate (PhD).

However, the number of people that will contest the upcoming NC election can be either more or less. Some aspiring candidates and the current members who are planning to recontest have not registered with the commission.

Among the dzongkhags, Dagana saw the highest number of aspiring candidates with 18 registering for the seminar, followed by 13 from Monggar and 10 from Tsirang. Only one has registered from Bumthang, while Trongsa and Wangdue saw two each. On an average, there are 6.4 candidates per dzongkhag.

The current members’ office ends on May 9, 2018. The third NC will be reconstituted on May 10 to ensure the continuity of the house.

According to the commission, the election process will begin from February and end in May 2018. Elections to the “house of continuity” are held in such a way that the new members take office the next day the incumbent members complete their term.

Government agencies, corporations, private offices, religious organisations and the general public have been notified to avoid organising programmes and activities involving public gathering from February to May next year.

According to ECB, it has already begun its activities towards the Parliamentary Election 2018 and every dzongkhag has developed individual action plans to increase voter turnout.

The Bhutan Accreditation Council (BAC) will recognise the qualifications of the aspiring candidates as per the Tertiary Education Policy, 2010. The process for recognition involves validating the qualification with the awarding institutes and is solely dependent on the receipt of response from their end.

BAC has notified that the recognition applications must reach its Secretariat at least two months prior to the deadline set by the commission for filing of nominations. Any applications received thereafter will not be entertained.

ECB clarified that “formal university degree” is required to contest in parliamentary elections. A formal university degree, according to ECB, means a degree not lower than a Bachelor’s degree conferred on a person after having pursued a formal course of study at a university or an institution of higher learning recognised by the Royal Government of Bhutan and attested by a competent authority in the Kingdom.

The university degree must be attested by the commission’s Department of Election after obtaining accreditation from BAC.

MB Subba