The nation goes to the polls today. Leading up to the day, we have held 1,014 common forums. A total of 402,089 voters will cast their ballot today as polls open from 9 am. It is the consummation of hard work we have put together to build a strong democratic culture.

And so today, all the 205 gewogs in the country will elect their gup, mangmi and tshogpa. Samdrupjongkhar thromde will elect thrompon and thromde tshogpa. Except for the dzongkhag thromde of Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Geluphu, Gasa, Mongar and Pemagatshel, 13 dzongkhag thromdes will elect their thromde ngotshab.

More than 3,000 candidates are contesting for various LG posts. A record number of 150 university graduates are contesting in this election. This is a sign that our democratic culture is evolving. It is growing. We are becoming more responsible. All’s as it should be.

Local governments are important because significant administrative power has been given to them so that our people can prioritise development and participate in the building of their own communities. That’s why exercising our franchise this day is more than just important. As members of a community, each one of us has the responsibility to shape its future.

As we head to the polls today, there are things that we must know – how to conduct ourselves. There are things that we can do and there things that we should refrain from doing. Election laws are clear.

So that we have a successful election of local government leaders, we must respect the election laws. Campaign time is over. So we must refrain from organising public events that could likely sway voters in favour or against a candidate. Disputes might occur, but we have dispute settlement body to set things straight. We do not beat each other up and throw vile imprecations.

There will be losers and there will be winners. Candidates you favour might not get elected. Divisions could occur. What is important, however, is that we will have elected our leaders who will work towards developing our communities. It is incumbent on us so to render all our support.