MB Subba

The new election rules, which prescribe that candidates must have five years and 10 years of working experience for National Assembly and National Council elections has come as a shock for many young aspirants.

Some politicians welcomed the new rules but others expressed their reservations about certain provisions. One of the concerns is whether or not political parties would be able to find candidates who fulfil the new criteria.

An official from the Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT) said that the party needed to replace a few of its candidates after the release of the new rules.

“They meet the age requirement but miss out on the work experience requirement,” he said.

However, DNT’s general secretary, Phurba, said that the addition of the new criteria would result in the inclusion of better candidates. However, he added that the new rules would be tested during the upcoming election.

“It’s always better to have additional criteria,” he said, adding that all the candidates of DNT would fulfil all of them.

Some of the young MPs, he said, would also fulfil the criteria to recontest as they would complete five years when they complete their terms.

Some of the current MPs had the opportunity to contest the election in 2018 with little or no work experience.

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) officials said that all of its candidates meet the new criteria.

“We haven’t taken fresh graduates as candidates in our party,” a DPT official said.

Most of the candidates of DPT and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are former civil servants.

The secretary general of PDP, Kuenga Tashi, said that the party had only a few young candidates. “However, even the young ones meet the criteria,” he said.

The new rules have dashed the hopes of not only young and aspiring candidates but also self-employed people like educated farmers.

The candidates should have served in offices either in the public or private sector with “exemplary conduct and performance”.

The election rules 2022, which came into effect on August 29, empowers ECB to assess not only National Council candidates but also those nominated by political parties.

A candidate must satisfy the Commission that he or she is a “person of integrity, good character and reputation” as per the “framework for assessment of candidates participating in elections”.

The rules aim to ensure that candidates “are of good standing and have suitable experience to discharge their duties and responsibilities effectively and responsibly”.

The rules have been promulgated to maintain a healthy electoral system and making elections free and fair.

The rules are also aimed at ensuring electioneering conduct that “coheres with high standards of integrity, truthfulness, selflessness, loyalty and patriotism”.