The debate among the vice presidents brings down the curtain to the long and rushed National Assembly debates. Did it help undecided voters decide or did others change their mind after listening to all the candidates? 

With less than a week left for Super Thursday, the feeling is that the debates have not helped much, especially in convincing voters. If the candidates were not allowed to say much beyond what was in the manifestos, the debate format, the problem of time did not many say, serve the purpose. It was too small a platform for candidates to convince or articulate their visions and plans to the electorate.

In the primary round, Bhutanese vote for the parties and they needed to know the president and his men/women, as one would go on to become the government for five years. Unfortunately, what we are left with is snapshots on social media with many remembering the memes more than even the names. The debate, in its current format, some even think is a waste of time and resources. Those who could articulate and manage the time would feel they left a mark. 

However, political parties or candidates would have already convinced or influenced voters long before the debate. We will see more politicking in the next few days until the 48-hour blackout period as parties give one final push before the poll day. The real debate had already happened on the ground- in the chiwogs, gewogs and dzongkhags albeit discreetly.

Like in the past elections, it is not the debate, but the number of party workers or supporters, and political parties recruited that would decide the election. Supporter here is interpreted as the number of coordinators or tshogpas who are keeping an eye on each other and their movements. That debate was also on the legality of party workers, especially when many are paid, even bought or sold depending on the amount offered. The other debate is about not having evidence to report to authorities or authorities not investigating. There is a thin line between supporting a party and forcing people to support it.

We will see party workers work harder and even clash in the next few days as they guard their “support” base.  The chances of winning many believe will be determined by the army of coordinators or tshogpas on the ground. However, there is a catch. Drawing from past experiences, many are confident that this election too will also throw up surprises. Bhutanese voters, many say, are smart if not shrewd to outsmart nosy party workers. Parties know it and are not confident the results are out.

There are accusations of candidates giving cash to recharge mobile data, tegos, wonjus and many more like in the past elections. The last leg between today and Monday evening will be crucial for parties and candidates. How much they win over or lose the support will matter.

It is also crucial for the voters to know how important the single vote they have is. If the vote is sacred, every voter has the sacred responsibility to vote at their own decision and not because they were told to do so.  Inside the polling station, voters know they are alone and the EVM is secured.