The Bhutan Democracy Dialogue will allow parties to work together and take a common position

Democracy: Political parties agree that disharmony and mistrust fueled by partisan politics should be removed from society. The Bhutan Democracy Dialogue (BDD), which was launched by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck yesterday, will attempt to do just that.

Following two elections, Bhutan has experienced the ills of democracy in varying degrees.

The BDD is a multi-party association and aims to enable political parties to work together and take a common position on issues that will help consolidate Bhutanese democracy. This, the BDD believes, will help parties prevent conflict and regain public confidence.

Speaking during the launch, the BDD’s founding president, Lily Wangchuk, said the country has experienced elements of disharmony undermining the strong sense of solidarity that have prevailed under the monarchy. She said the BDD was dedicated to the “Father of Democratic Bhutan”, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

The BDD president said often the histories of democracy are mired in bloodshed and violence. “But in Bhutan, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo introduced democracy at a time when Bhutan enjoyed unprecedented peace and stability.”

She said there can be no better time for all parties to stand united in this mission. She added there is a sense of mistrust for politicians and politics, describing the launch of the BDD as a “turning point” in Bhutanese democracy.

The PDP general secretary Sonam Jatso said, “We see the danger of the country being divided along party lines. We should not let that happen, not in a small country like ours.”

Chief Election Commissioner Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said the monarchs found democracy the most effective means to further national goals. “Thus, it is incumbent upon each of us to work to deepen and strengthen it.”

He said any external cooperation and technical assistance to a political party can be possible if extended only through and by the ECB for promoting democracy and facilitating capacity building.

The commissioner suggested political parties that besides offering better choice to voters they also explore the possibility of consolidating themselves to becoming forces to be reckoned with rather than simply existing in name and at the most, being ego-serving entities.

“Leaders must become examples of good conduct and behavior, and stand as example of pillars of integrity, shining the light of hope of principled partisan politics as model for the democratic world.”

He also said that party membership must be nurtured to bring in vibrancy and strength, for parties to become a democratic force for progress.

He said political disagreement cannot be avoided in a multi-party democracy. “The important thing is that it must be guided by principles and common sense.”

“We need to break the culture of competing for power for the sake of power at any cost,” he said. He added that it is important to appreciate that if democracy is to serve the intended goals, it has to support consolidation of the state institutions and place undivided faith in them for safeguarding of democracy.

However, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) president Dr Tandin Dorji said the success and failure of the association depends on how much importance the parliament and the government of the day will give to the resolutions and suggestions of the BDD.

By MB Subba