Within an hour into counting the election results last night, it was clear that Bhutanese were convinced with the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s (DNT) call for change.
The party that won with the most votes in the primaries campaigned for change in governance every five years, at times, warning people that one political party taking strong roots would be no good in a democracy.
Winning 30 seats out of 47, it was a sound victory for DNT. The margin was not what many expected with the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) winning in 22 constituencies in the primary round. What was also not expected was some of the favourites to win, losing. The party’s strategy to kick-start their campaign from the east paid off to an extent. It managed to win three more seats in what is confirmed as DPT’s stronghold while sweeping clean all constituencies in the west and south.
Even as we analyse the results of the election, there are some positives to take home. We will have seven women candidates in the Parliament. Some are already thrilled with most of the women candidates getting elected. This should encourage more women to participate. The voter turnout, at around 71 percent, is an increase from the primary round. With DPT winning 17 seats, we will have the strongest opposition.
In the run up to the general elections, there were several accusations and theories going around like in previous elections. What we learnt is that our voters keep their decisions to themselves. Nothing can influence them. The supporters coercing or influencing them, the election commission’s warnings, penalties or reprimands didn’t change their minds. Some of them went on to win by huge margins.
With the elections over, there will be a change. We will have a new prime minister a new set of cabinet ministers. The voters would expect change as the government elect takes reign of running the country and deliver what has been promised. The electorate is already talking about free wi-fi, increased vehicle import quota and salary revisions on social media. All eyes will also be on the new government to see how they fulfill some of the pledges that brought voters by the droves.
With a slogan of “narrowing the gap,” the government elect will also have an important task to heal the wounds left by the election process. We welcome the president’s reactions on the issue when in his first interview after the election last night said the party’s manifestos is for all Bhutanese and that differentiating along party lines was against the party’s vision.
When the results sink in, the government will have an important mandate. We have an ambitious 12th Plan and the government will have to raise funds to ensure the success of the Plan and fulfil the promises of change.