On August 6, 2007, the People’s Democratic Party became the first registered political party in Bhutan after formally submitting its application for registration. In less than a month the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) approved PDP’s registration.
This was the time when the country was in the midst of transitioning to a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy. By the first week of September, 2007 PDP has already finalised 44 of the 47 candidates. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup at the helm, the party gathered a pool of credible candidates. The former PDP president was the first to file his nomination and with Tshewang Lhamo’s candidature from Khar-Yurung, the party was all set for the first elections.
By the end of July 2007, PDP formally inaugurated its head office in Kawajangsa, Thimphu, and appointed Lam Kezang as the party’s general secretary.
By the end of September 2007, PDP kicked off its campaign from the east. The former President said that no false promises would be made and that the party will deliver what it promised. This was in line with its slogan “walking the talk.”
‘We walk the talk and service with humility’, which means that anything PDP promises to the people, would be fulfilled, as per the former president.
The first National Assembly election in 2008 is a sore spot for PDP. A massive defeat crushed PDP in the general election in 2008, gaining only two seats of the 47 in the National Assembly. The Party President with a virtuous portfolio lost in his own constituency to a teacher.
This was followed by the resignation of the president on “moral grounds.” The party even contemplated on withdrawing from forming the two-member opposition and even filing a case against the DPT for resorting to unfair means. This too came at a time when the party has Nu 20M pending debt. The former President lost his land that was mortgaged to fund the party.
Soon then the interim president and former Prime Minster, Tshering Tobgay came on record to say that the minimum amount of loyalty that PDP owe to the people was to keep the party alive as 33 percent of electorate has voted for PDP. “I will not abandon the ship,” he had said.
PDP came back stronger in round two, despite the declining support base and challenge to assemble 45 more candidates. The party had also struggled to sustain party machinery in dzongkhags and clear dues incurred from the first election.
However, the people commended the performance of the two-member Opposition, especially when the government was taken to the court for revising taxes. PDP won the case and that added to the credibility.
The then Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay also reached out to the young and literate through social media and his blog became popular enough to garner support.
By early February 2013, PDP was back in the race, with Wangtse Chirphel as its ideology, GNH, as guiding principle and even the galloping horse on its logo bowed to express the humility with which the party intends to serve the Tsawa-Sum.
PDP asked for change and people responded. The current party president, Tshering Tobgay was one of the first civil servants to resign to participate in politics.
He kept the PDP ship afloat and managed to overturn the result of primary election in 2013. PDP won 12 of the 47 constituencies in 2013 primaries against 33 for DPT. However, in the general elections DPT managed to secure only 15 seats. In fact, PDP emerged stronger.
Having formed the government in 2013, PDP claims that it had delivered what it promised and served the Tsawa-Sum with humility. Today PDP campaigns for continuity.
The party also engaged in horse trading, roping in candidates from the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa and still today, the president said that if the party have the option to strengthen the pool of candidates for people’s benefit, it would do so, because it is permissible by law.
The PDP government was able to roll out the biggest ever plan budget and facilitated largest ever grant, Bhutan received.
For 2018, the party envisages to make Bhutan, an economically vibrant, sovereign, environmentally rich, socio-culturally just and harmonious country that is politically united.
According to its 2018 manifesto, PDP believes unity, stability and prosperity has navigated the country through all times and thus the three words turn out to be PDP’s slogan. Wangtse Chirphel still is the party ideology guided by the GNH principles.
PDP’s long-term vision is to create favourable condition for every Bhutanese to be able to pursue happiness.
While the party manifesto is a 126-paged book, the president claims that it has a good pool of candidates. “I would not say that all 47 are best, but 43 are the best in the country,” he said.
The candidates comprise of former secretaries, directors, dzongdags, former national council representatives and specialists and existing members. However, the party had replaced 15 of the members who served as MPs in the last term.
While launching its campaign from Punakha, the Party President, Tshering Tobgay expressed his gratitude to the people for choosing PDP in the last two elections.
Having served as both Opposition and government, he said, the people are the best judge. “If you think that PDP has delivered what it promised, support us. If you think that we have failed, don’t support us,” the party president, Tshering Tobgay had said.
Highlighting PDP’s achievements, he said it went beyond its 2013 manifesto. For instance, the central schools and east west highway, he said were never in the manifesto but crucial from socio-economic development aspect.
Tshering Tobgay said the PDP government has not only successfully raised domestic revenue and grant but also concluded the 11th Plan with a small fiscal deficit of Nu 2B, compared to Nu 5B in the 10th Plan.
“We can confidently say that we can raise what is required during the 12th Plan. Where does this confidence come from? We have already estimated the amount of domestic resources and a lot of groundwork has been done in raising grant assistance from developing partners and institutions,” Tshering Tobgay told Kuensel.
On the PDP pledges, he said the party has considered and incorporated the estimations and plans. “We are not concerned about the financing.”