… including five female candidates

Dechen Dolkar  

This National Council (NC) election 2023 has 89 candidates nominated through the dhamngoi dzomdus in 20 dzongkhags. It is 37 fewer than the number during the 2018 NC elections making 2023 election cheaper by at least Nu 5.55 million (M) mainly in terms of the campaign fund the State pays to candidates.

This year, the State will pay around Nu 13.5M for the campaign fund while paid Nu 19M in 2018. As per the election law, the State has to pay each candidate a sum of Nu 150,000 towards the individual’s campaign fund.

In 2018, 127 candidates were nominated from the gewog dhamngoi zomdu in the 20 dzongkhags out of which six were woman candidates. In the 2008 and 2013 elections, 52 and 67 candidates were nominated from the gewogs to contest at the dzongkhag level.

Earlier this month, 111 aspiring candidates appeared for the Dhamngoi Zomdu. Three aspiring candidates were disqualified for failing to produce documents, and not meeting the 10 years of work experience criterion. Some observers say that the new rules such as the longer work experience could have contributed to the fewer people registering to contest this election.

Dhamngoi zomdu is a process at the gewog level to nominate a candidate to contest at the dzongkhag level in the NC elections. Every gewog and dzongkhag throm is eligible to nominate a candidate to contest in the elections.

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has registered 125 aspiring NC candidates including nine female candidates from all dzongkhags for this election. However, many of them withdrew before the dhamngoi zomdu.

Sarpang has nominated nine candidates, which is the highest among the dzongkhags, and followed by Samtse with eight candidates. Mongar and Tsirang have nominated seven candidates each.

Mongar has nominated two female candidates and Punakha, Sarpang and Zhemgang have a female candidate each.

The last date of filing nomination was on March 13 and their nomination documents were scrutinised yesterday. According to the ECB, no candidate was rejected during the scrutiny.

Only about 51,164 voters turnout for the dhamngoi zomdu, whereas in 2018 elections 63,216 voters turnout for gewog dhamngoi zomdu.

Meanwhile, all the incumbent NC members who are re-contesting were nominated.

The ECB will release campaign funds tomorrow and it is also the last date for the candidates to withdraw if they want to.

The poll day is on April 20.