Earlier this week we saw the worst voter turn out in any of the elections we have had so far. In fact, in one of the seven constituencies we had no zomdu (meeting) to nominate a candidate. Election officials outnumbered voters at the polling stations.
And this is at the thromde election. The capital city’s residents were nominating their mayor and his team. The team that will have a huge say on how the city shapes up, expands or develops in the next five years. Yet going by the views of residents it was worse than a school prefect election.
The capital’s population is guesstimated at about 100,000 or more, but not all can stand or vote. The responsibility falls on those that are registered in the thromde, on about 7,300 people. Because the rules allowed, the zomdu went ahead and we have a lone thrompon candidate and a thuemi nominee.
Not to deride the candidature of those who were nominated on Tuesday, the thromde that extends from Changtagang in the North to Ngabirongchu in the south should have seen more candidates and of course, more people at the zomdus. It is their responsibility to ensure that we have good candidates in running the affairs of the thromde. A thrompon election shouldn’t be a piece of cake.
Knowing this, before the first thromde election in 2011, both the government and the election commission had been encouraging people with property and land to transfer their census to the thromde. This would enable them to have a say in how the thromde is planned or developed.
There is a grand plan for Thimphu. It is to become a dream city by 2027. It is growing fast and already one fourth of the population lives in the city. More are coming in droves to the city. This will exert pressure on the existing infrastructure. The fast growing city has to balance development with nature, traditional architecture and affordable housing.
Then we hear complaints of garbage, traffic, parking and many more. We can find solutions to these issues when people take responsibility. A big responsibility is coming forward to stand for elections, nominate or vote. This has not happened. Perhaps the election is not important to them.
What has happened nobody knows. Some who expressed interest are complaining that the election commission had delayed in announcing the dates of the election. Would that have made a difference? Some preparations should have done even without knowing the dates. But if the election commission had messed up with the dates, there are some concerns.
We are just with the first round of the local government elections. We will have another 16 thrompons and a few hundred tshogpas and thuemies to be elected. We can only hope that the rest of the thromde election will not take any cue from the capital’s election.