Democracy: The first-ever Bhutan Children’s Parliament (BCP) election for its National Council and National Assembly members will occur on September 12, the election commission has announced through a notification.

Members of 153 school democracy clubs across the country will be voting for their representatives in the BCP. The polling hours will start from 8am and end at 5pm.

The children’s parliament will comprise of a National Assembly (NA) and National Council (NC) as per the Constitution of the BCP, with the constituencies mirroring the electoral boundaries of the two august houses of Parliament.

The BCP will be the apex body of democracy clubs in the country and function like a parliament and discuss pertinent issues. The candidates will be members of democracy clubs.

Children, according to the Constitution of the BCP, include all school going children, trainees and degree college students who are not older than twenty-four years.

The BCP is initiated as a learning platform for our children to not only hone their leadership skills and be well informed on elections and democracy but also to facilitate the articulation of their ideas, thoughts and feelings.

This is being done so that their concerns and opinions can be heard and be given due consideration in the decision making process thereby adding further depth and colour to our social and political landscape, the election commission stated.

The BCP-NC will comprise  20 elected members, each representing a dzongkhag and elected by the democracy clubs of that dzongkhag.

The BCP-NA shall comprise of 47 elected members, each representing the BCP-NA demkhong, which shall be the same, geographically, as the NA demkhong of the Parliament of Bhutan.

Where there is only a single democracy club in a demkhong, a registered BCP voter aspiring to contest the BCP NA or NC Election shall produce signatures of at least five percent of the registered BCP voters from the respective democracy club supporting his/her nomination provided a BCP voter may only support one aspiring candidate’s nomination.

As per Section 9 of Article 3 of the BCP Constitution, each democracy club is entitled to elect one candidate to contest the BCP-NA elections in the respective demkhongs.

A candidate will be given four days for campaigning, which must stop 48 hours before poll day.

“There shall be no campaign finance provided except for the facilitation as provided in an unbiased and uniform manner by the respective returning officer,” it stated.

If there is no candidate after the last date for filing of nomination of candidates notified herein, the election will be postponed till further notice.

The announcement of the dates comes after the election commission conducted a two day meeting with the Dzongkhag Electoral Officers (DzEOs) on August 31 to September 1.

The meeting reviewed the ECB Work Plan for the financial year 2015-2016. The meeting also discussed the programme for the observation of the National Voter’s Day in the 20 Dzongkhags on September 15.

The meeting specifically, considered a long term strategy as well as immediate priorities, related to monitoring and evaluation of election activities and the up-coming conduct of BCP. The DzEOs were also briefed on the changes in the various rules and regulations effected earlier in June 2015 by the Election Commission.

MB Subba