Two weeks away from the impending poll day on November 30th, our voters are not only fatigued but also expressing discontent with the election activities bothering them. Judging by the turnout at common forums, the message is clear. The gatherings are too many and people are eager to move past this phase.

The obligation to attend meetings is proving to be both expensive and time-consuming, especially for villagers having to travel distance and when it is the busy harvest season in many dzongkhags. However, political parties or candidates should not be concerned by the headcount. It is widely believed that most voters have already made up their minds. If the assertion is false, we know candidates have met voters in their village or even homes. They have the dzongkhag, gewog and chiwog coordinators in the field to keep reminding voters whom to vote for.

This might not be a healthy trend, but it is the trend in Bhutanese elections. But again, the number of coordinators or Tshogpas (party workers) alone will not be decisive. This uncertainty is why most candidates, and  even party presidents, remain unsure of their chances or their contestants until the polling day concludes. When they say that they will only know the support base after the poll day, it indicates the unpredictability of the voters. Some are confident even if only a few villagers attend campaign meetings.

A significant change in the 2023-2024 elections is how parties or candidates are reaching out to voters. The use of social media, particularly Facebook and TikTok, has reduced the dependence on meetings. Villagers can now watch the so-called debates, promises and bloopers from the comfort of their homes. Political parties know this and are becoming creative in reaching voters through various means.

There is no time for candidates or party presidents to visit all the 20 dzongkhags, forget the constituencies. Recorded video messages, including apologies for not being at the constituencies, are shared on social media platforms to keep voters informed and happy.

Meanwhile, parties are strategically planning their campaigns, focusing on  dzongkhags or constituencies that could sway the election’s outcome. For instance, many are directing their efforts and  spending more time in the south, given that none of the parties is led by a president from the region. They know that a few southern dzongkhags could hold the key to deciding the elections.

Besides, the National Assembly election gets more exciting, at least for voters and observers, in the general round where the ruling and opposition party are determined, and voters vote for candidates and not parties. Having listened to the debates and the candidates, there is no clear-cut distinction of how parties are appealing to the voters.

Economic reform is central to all party plans, even if their slogans differ. The economy, while  not in the best shape,  appeals to some voters. However, for  many others, their vote still  depends on many factors. For those striving hard to win on a lot of promises, it is good to be reminded that the election is not the end. The responsibility begins after the results.