LG Elections 2016: A new chapter was added to the history of Bhutan’s local government system as the second local government (LG) elections concluded yesterday after the completion of the tenures of the first democratically-elected local governments.

The first LG elections under the Constitution of Bhutan, which was adopted in 2008, were held in 2011.

The elections passed with much excitement and intense lobbying in most of the places that had more candidates. The completion of the polls is expected to strengthen the foundations of democracy.

In a brief emailed statement to Kuensel, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) attributed the “success of the elections” to the voters who turned out to vote, and the entire team of dedicated election officials.  The ECB also thanked security personnel and polling officers who worked “tirelessly with commitment and enthusiasm”.

The ECB will hold a press conference to formally announce the results today.

The elections attracted more educated candidates and more graduates have been elected, which will be important to the functioning of local governments. The Constitution gives local leaders significant powers to implement plans for socio-economic development at the dzongkhag, thromde and gewog levels.

The new set of local leaders will implement the 12th Plan at the grassroots level. According to reports from the dzongkhags, a mix of experienced and new candidates have been elected.

The ECB collected the poll results using an SMS-based Poll Information System that was initially made available online on its website. This was intended to serve as a reliable and timely source of information for general viewing to ensure that the general public is well-informed.

However, the ECB said they had not finished compiling results from dzongkhags as of 1am yesterday. “It took time for officials to send results because of internet problems and mobile network problems,” an ECB official said.

Voter turn out and the total number of people who cast votes were not known at the time of writing this article as the results from dzongkhags were still being compiled by the ECB. The voter turn out in the first LG elections was 56.23 percent, where 194,952 voters had cast ballots.

For the first time, Bumthang, Dagana, Haa, Lhuentse, Paro, Punakha, Samtse, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Trongsa, Tsirang, Wangdue Phodrang and Zhemgang saw elections for thromde ngotshabs. But no elections were held in the three dzongkhags of Gasa, Mongar and Pemagatshel due to a lack of thromde ngotshab candidates.

There were no candidates in 40 chiwogs and hence no elections were held.

A total of 1,014 common forums were held in 205 gewogs, Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag thromde and 13 dzongkhag throms from September 5 to 21. According to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), 39,629 people attended those forums, out of which 19,434 were women and 20,105 were men.

A total of 3,402 candidates addressed the common forums. Thirty Candidates did not attend the common forums.

After the scrutiny process, there were 606 gup candidates, out of which 27 were women and 579 men. For the post of mangmi, 673 candidates had got through the scrutiny process.

According to the final electoral role released by the ECB,  total of 402,089 people were eligible to cast votes yesterday, out of which 205,219 are women and 196,870 are men.

Out of the total registered voters in the country, 78,218 had registered as postal voters.

MB Subba