The first sitting of the Fourth National Assembly begins today with the Speaker and his deputy nominated for endorsement by the ruling government.

Elected members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party and the opposition party, Bhutan Tendrel Party will take the oath of office, wear the symbols of lawmakers, Patang, Gentag and the blue kabney signaling the start of the Fourth Parliament of Bhutan. There were no disputes surrounding the election results or the people’s choice, and as members of the parliament are briefed and take office, it signals yet another successful parliamentary election.

The 2023-24 election is one for the books. For the first time, five political parties took part in the elections. A new party, formed a year before the elections, is sitting in the opposition with 17 seats. As many expected, the PDP returned to govern, campaigning largely on an issue that has affected almost every Bhutanese, the economy. Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is still a party that qualified for state funding, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa and its members were shocked to come fourth while the Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa couldn’t appeal to voters.

After the opening of the first sitting today, all eyes will be on who will form the cabinet of ministers headed by Dasho Tshering Tobgay as the fourth democratically elected prime minister of Bhutan. The election and the results are now behind us even if people are discussing issues that have arisen from the recent election results. As we offer our trashi delek khadars to the MP elects and exchange goodwill, the biggest concern is the way Bhutanese voted in the fourth parliamentary elections.

The result, many say, was not ideal as the electoral map indicated a sharp division between the east and the rest. What we must understand is there is nothing such as an ideal election result. What we know from our experience is that an election cannot please everyone and that there are losers and winners. Most of us were surprised by the division, when plotted on the electoral map. This should not concern us.

What is more important is that we understand the trends and draw lessons from them for the future. The people of eastern Bhutan should not worry, for instance,  not having a single member in the cabinet. They need not panic or fear of being neglected just because there were more voters who believed or were convinced by BTP. There will be developments happening in eastern Bhutan. The region needs more attention from an elected government tasked to oversee the development of Bhutan and the Bhutanese, not east, west, north or south Bhutan.

The PDP government led by its seasoned president knows it well. The two-member opposition in the first elections kept the government, with absolute majority, on toes and managed to beat them in the next elections.  PDP’s slogan is to keep a promise of a “Better Drukyul.”  Drukyul encompasses all regions.

What we all need today is to get over the post election furor and see good governance take shape. PDP is an experienced political party. People who did not vote for them should not be worried. In fact, the election results provide the party a  good chance to convince voters in constituencies they lost. PDP could begin their campaign for the 2029 NA elections by prioritizing the needs of eastern Bhutan where they have already made small inroads.

Much of the development activities people aspire for is in the 13th Plan, a plan for the people of Bhutan. PDP will not neglect the east if not take over and fulfill the pledges of those sitting in the opposition as part of the larger vision.