Elections are over. We have elected our gups, mangmis and tshogpas. Local governments are now back in place after quite a break, which means development plans in the dzongkhags and the gewogs can now take off. What is important is that we achieve the planned development activities within the stipulated time frame.
We have to appreciate the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) and the officials who have made the second local government elections a success. That said, we also have some lessons to learn so that our future elections are even more successful.
There have been serious coordination problems from the ECB side. The returning officers, quite a good number of them, wouldn’t talk to the media because they didn’t know their roles adequately. As frustrating as it might have been for the election officials, it was for the media.
Election officials seemed to have their own rules. In some places, reporters were allowed to take pictures at the polling stations. In others, they were shooed away effectively. Myriad reasons were provided that didn’t make much sense. Lack of coordination gave rise to confusion.
Polls closed at 5 pm, but we didn’t get the results past 1 am even. Bhutan Broadcasting Service announced wrong results. Other media houses had to wait because the ECB’s system was overwhelmed and down. And then the light went out at the ECB office.
It is only logical that the returning offers should send the results of the polls to the headquarters, but the challenges could have been foreseen. Preparations should have been made so that nation got the results promptly after the closure of the polls.
These are the lessons that we have learnt from the second local government elections. It is when we know our own flaws that we begin to look at the ways to change for the better. Preparations, careful and systematic preparations at that, are critical to avoid unnecessary confusions.
We applaud the ECB, however, for pulling off this great task and giving us our local leaders.