Six are women candidates

With the completion of zomdus in all dzongkhags, a total of 130 candidates have been nominated to contest the National Council (NC) election on April 20.

A total of about 170 aspiring candidates contested in the zomdus, according to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB).

However, election officials clarified that the figures are provisional until the nomination closes on March 19.

Scrutiny of nomination of candidates will begin on March 20, from which day the confirmed candidates can also apply for campaign funds and start campaigning.

“The selected candidates will go through a scrutiny process to confirm their candidature,” said an election official. “Failure of a candidate to fulfill the nomination requirements will lead to disqualification.”

In 2013, 67 candidates were selected from dhamngoi zomdus, where a gewog or throm selects its nominees to contest the NC election. The first NC election held in 2007 and 2008 saw 52 candidates.

This year, Tsirang saw 18 aspiring candidates, which was the highest among the dzongkhags in terms of aspirants. The dzongkhag, which has 12 gewogs has as many selected candidates.

Although Semjong gewog did not have a nominee, Damphu Throm nominated a candidate to take the number to a dozen in the dzongkhag.

Mongar nominated 13 candidates, which is also the highest in terms of selected candidates. The dzongkhag saw 17 aspiring candidates.

In Dagana, of the 17 aspiring who contested the dhamngoi zomdus, 10 made it to the final round. Tshangkha, Goshi, Nichula and Tashiding, and the Daga Throm did not see nominees.

Bumthang has only two candidates, one each from Tang gewog and the Throm.

Participation of women as aspiring candidates was only about 3 percent.

Six of the seven women aspiring candidates have made it to the final round. This means that 4 percent of the selected candidates are female and 95 percent are male.

In 2013, four women contested the election but none got elected although four out of six women candidates had won in the first NC election.

Chukha, Mongar, Punakha, Samdrupjongkhar  and Tsirang have together fielded six women candidates.

Among the incumbent members, 12 have secured their place in the election.

While 14 incumbent members contested the zomdu, Tsirang’s Kamal Bdr Gurung and Sangay Khandu of Gasa did not make it through the nomination process.

Six members including Chairperson Sonam Kinga (PhD) from Trashigang had opted out of the race.

The other non-contesting incumbent members are Dagana’s Sonam Dorji, Punakha’s Rinzin Dorji, Kaka Tshering from Paro, Jigmi Rinzin from Pemagatshel and Sangay Khandu from Samtse.

As per electoral laws, there is no limit on the number of terms an NC member can serve.

The current members’ term in office will expire on May 9. The third NC is expected to be re-constituted the next day.

MB Subba