The Election Commission of Bhutan has approved the letter of intent of all the four political parties. This means Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, and People’s Democratic Party will participate in the election to the National Assembly.

Following the approval of letter of intent, the four political parties launched their campaign formally yesterday, two from Thimphu, one each from Paro and Punakha. The political parties have 20 days in all before the campaign period closes at 9am on September 13. This is the culmination of long days of preparation and wait that now is leading us all to the poll day.

What is interesting this round is that the political parties more or less have definite goals and objectives for the nation. What they stand for and what they want to achieve for the country and her people are now in the domain of the electorate. And they will decide which party will come to the government.

As important as elections are, they tend to create divisions in the society. It is unfortunate because compartmentalisation of society is the last thing we want. Small as we are, we cannot afford divisiveness. Bhutan is strong inasmuch as we are all united and one. It is incumbent on all the political parties, therefore, to campaign on the grounds of their strengths and their ability to deliver. Leave the rest to the electorate because voters and constituents are intelligent enough to know and decide what they want.

We already hear that some political parties are influencing voters, particularly in the villages with the power of money. Some are reportedly employing threats. Such tactics maybe used in democracies elsewhere to garner votes, but this happening here is sad. Because the way democracy came to Bhutan and the Bhutanese was different, we do not have to borrow what is done abroad warts and all. We can, and must, choose to be different. Our democracy can be civilised and should be worthy of example for all who have preceded us and will follow us.

The 438,663 eligible voters in the country should strongly resist any undue influence, either from abroad or inside. Use the one vote you have – responsibly.