The People’s Democratic Party’s triumph in winning 39 of the 47 constituencies during the primary round was a genuine surprise. This unexpected outcome not only caught the electorate off guard, but also shocked other political parties and even the party’s own supporters and well-wishers.

“I don’t know” is the only ready answer as many try to analyse why the landslide victory. Many expected PDP to come back. They had five years to prepare and had a vigorous campaign period despite some controversy, some of which has played to their hands, but the way they galloped from the primary round with more than double the votes of the runner-up, Bhutan Tendrel Party, was unexpected if not astonishing.

The initial anticipation was that PDP would be one of the five parties to advance through the primary round. However, the scale of the victory shocked the Bhutanese, even if a victory with such a margin or more had happened in the first Assembly elections.  The margin was substantial that in many constituencies the total votes of four other parties combined was lesser than what PDP secured. It was indeed an overwhelming and a massive victory.

What the PDP achieved in this round went beyond just sweeping constituencies; it disrupted the cranes’ roost in Pemagatshel. The PDP won the Nanong-Shumar constituency, a stronghold of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, came second in Nganglam, and third in Khar-Yurung. Where it won, it won big and where it lost, it lost by a few votes. In Khamed-Lunana where PDP came second, the difference was a mere four votes.

In the Kanglung-Samkhar-Udzorong constituency, where BTP’s president was contesting, PDP came second with a difference of 1,458. This stands in contrast to Pangbang or North Thimphu, the constituencies of two party presidents, where PDP won with comfortable margins.

Based on the results of the primary round, PDP, many say, is galloping away to win the fourth National Assembly election. The figures are encouraging. The party that governed from 2013-2018 has won with a huge margin on both the postal ballot and on the EVMs. It won 49 percent of the total votes cast yesterday with five parties in contention.

However, that the primary round results are an indication of how the general round will go should be approached with some caution. We have seen in the past how tables turn in the general round. And this time around, we have supporters of three parties waiting to decide whom to support.

Besides, like a political analyst said, a huge margin does not spell well for the winner. This is because knowing Bhutanese voters, they emphasise the less powerful and, like in the past, have the tendency to give chance to a new party. How the parties campaign from tomorrow and where the supporters of the DPT, DNT and DTT would lean will decide the general round. A same result like the primary round would mean absolute majority.

Meanwhile, securing the least number of votes, DTT could bow out as a political party unless they regroup and come back to contest without state funding. Despite DPT taking a break after three consecutive terms, the unwavering determination of its supporters was once again evident, with the party securing a respectable third place.