LG: There is an increase in the number of candidates contesting for the upcoming local government (LG) elections.

The number of candidates contesting for the posts of gup and mangmi increased by slightly over nine percent this year compared to that of the first LG elections held in 2011. While a total of 1,162 contested as gup and mangmi candidates in the first LG elections, the number increased to 1,270 this year.

Participation of women as gup and mangmi candidates increased by 64 percent. In absolute terms, the number increased from 64 in the first LG elections to 105 this time.

For the post of gup, a total of 578 candidates contested in the first LG elections, while the number has increased to 616. Participation of women as gup candidates increased from 22 in 2011 to 27, which is a 22 percent increase.

For the post of mangmi, women participation increased by 85 percent. The number of women mangmi candidates increased from 42 in 2011 to 78.

In 2011, a total of 1,406 people contested as tshogpa candidates. However, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has not released figures for tshogpa candidates for the ongoing election.

The first gewog polls were held on June 27, 2011. The second LG elections will be held on September 27.

A gup candidate, who wished not be named, said the number of candidates is attributed to the increasing role of LG leaders and the increased pay and perks. “The roles and responsibilities of LG leaders are very important now,” he said. “People want to take those responsibilities seriously,” he added.

He said that the number of college educated candidates has also increased. “A lot of university graduates have joined the fray,” he said.

This time, a total of 1,052 zomdus were conducted across the country by a total of 90 teams of officials from the respective dzongkhags in all 205 gewogs. This includes the zomdus in the Samdrupjongkhar thromde.

A total of 101,060 voters, which is slightly over 25 percent of the total eligible voters nationwide, turned out to participate in the zomdus.

Similarly, a total of 654 mangmi candidates were selected at the zomdus. According to the ECB, 926 stood as candidates at the zomdus, of which 122 were women and 804 were men.

Of the total selected mangmi candidates, 78 are women and 576 are men. This translates to over 11 percent female participation as candidates for the polls.

A total of 22 zomdus saw aspiring candidates being rejected with more “No” votes than “Yes” votes with the negative voting for three women and 19 men.

Officials on zomdu duty encountered five cases of tied results, where re-election had to be held.

Election campaigning started on September 3 and ends on September 25.

According to the ECB, a common concern expressed by the people was the lack of postal ballot facility in the zomdu process. The ECB clarified that it is necessary for candidates to be already selected and known to the ECB to make postal ballot facility available for the voters.

However, it is only during the zomdus that the candidates are first known and selected by the electorate, the commission stated. “The postal ballot is not possible in zomdu and it is not a matter of mere inconvenience,” it stated.

MB Subba