MB Subba 

With the announcement of a seminar for aspiring candidates last week, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has started preparations for the upcoming National Council (NC) elections, which will be held early next year.

The registration of aspiring candidates for the seminar, which will be held in October, began on September 1.

The current NC was constituted on May 10, 2018. Accordingly, the five-year term of the third NC will end tentatively on May 9, 2023.

It implies that the NC has about eight months to complete its term. However, the elections have to be concluded to ensure that the fourth NC is reconstituted before the completion of the term, as the NC is a continuous House.

A parliamentary election process lasts about three months.

The incumbent members can recontest without resigning, according to the NC Act. The Constitution states that NC should be re-constituted on the date of expiry of the term.

The ECB in its notification yesterday stated the seminar for aspiring candidates was aimed at making them conversant with electoral laws and helping them participate in the elections meaningfully.

The seminar is expected to orient them on the requirements for contesting elections and “deepen their understanding of the electoral processes, specifically related to the fourth NC elections”.

“Besides, the ECB wishes to use the seminar as the platform to respond to any query that the aspiring candidates may have regarding the election.”

The ECB has asked individuals with intentions to contest the elections to register either with the ECB head office in Thimphu or the nearest dzongkhag election office.

“The exact date, time and venue shall be communicated subsequently,” ECB stated.

The 2018 NC elections were announced in February and the polls were held on April 20.

According to an aspiring candidate, the fourth NC elections are expected to see high numbers of candidates. Many aspiring candidates have already expressed their intentions with their family members and friends to contest the election, he said.

Another aspiring candidate who did not want to be named said that southern and eastern dzongkhags like Samtse, Sarpang, Mongar and Trashigang were expected to see an increase in the number of aspirants. “Voters will have more choices,” he said.

In an earlier notification, the commission notified government agencies, autonomous bodies, corporations, private offices, religious organisations, and the general public to organise programmes and activities that involve the public before the commencement of the election period.

The ECB stated that such programmes involving public gatherings during the election period would not be allowed.