DPT loses one seat in Parliament

By-Election: Tshering, 33, of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will fill the vacant North Thimphu seat in the National Assembly left by former MP Kinga Tshering, who resigned to pursue higher studies abroad.

In a landslide victory, the PDP candidate won 2,032 votes, which is 75.5 percent of the total ballots cast in the constituency. A total of 2,692 voters cast their ballots.

His rival 26-year-old Kessang Wangmo of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) won only 660 votes, including two postal ballot votes. Tshering received 14 postal ballot votes.

The MP-elect attributed his victory to party workers and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who in his capacity as the party president actively campaigned for the former. “I want to thank our Prime Minister who went door-to-door requesting people to vote for me,” he said.

Tshering added it was PDP’s image that played a big role in his victory. “I also campaigned very hard as I’m committed to serving the nation,” Tshering said.

This is the first time PDP has won the North Thimphu constituency, which was traditionally considered a DPT stronghold. The MP-elect has about two years to serve the constituency.

Kessang Wangmo said she does not regret the results, and that in fact she was “happy” that PDP won. “It would have been a different story if PDP had lost because the Prime Minister himself went door-to-door campaigning,” she said.

Tshering said he appreciated the DPT candidate for her courage to contest the election at her young age. He thanked DPT for its participation in the by-election.

There are a total of 6,312 registered voters in the constituency. The overall voter turn out was 42.6 percent. Female voter turn out was 44.8 percent and male voter turn out 40.2 percent.

In most of the polling stations, female queues were longer than that of male voters.

Although the by-election went smoothly, some voters said they had to wait in queue for hours. A voter at Zilukha polling station, 61-year-old Tashi said she had to wait for about two hours in the queue although she showed up early at the polling station.

“Voting is a privilege given to us but it should not be a burden for the voters and while I appreciate the organisation, I think it is not reasonable to wait for two or three hours to vote,” she said, adding that authorities should make it convenient for voters in future.

DPT President (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho congratulated PDP for the “convincing win” on his Facebook page. “The people of North Thimphu have made their choice and we respect that,” he wrote.

He said Kessang Wangmo gave her best and deserves the highest appreciation for her courage to come forward in the face of daunting challenges. “Her commitment to the advancement of democracy at such a young age is exceptional and we salute her,” he added.

He thanked the party’s supporters and offered them the party’s “profound gratitude and appreciation”.

Now with the conclusion of the by-election, PDP has 33 MPs in the 47-member National Assembly. DPT has 14 seats.

A number of factors make this election “very important” for both PDP and DPT although it doesn’t affect governance. Some see this loss as a decline in the support base of DPT and that it could be a worrying factor ahead of the 2018 parliamentary elections.

PDP says that it would be easier for the party to be re-elected in the constituency in the next general election. Both the parties had said in earlier interviews that North Thimphu was important for them to win.

The constituency consists of the north thromde, and the four gewogs of Kawang, Lingzhi, Naro and Soe.

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