Chhimi Dema

If the attendance at the Thimphu thromde’s common forums is anything to go by, voters are either not interested in what the Thrompon candidates have to say or have decided whom to vote for.

The turnout is poor. Yesterday at the common forum in Jungzhina-Kawajangsa demkhong, only 22 people showed up. There are 1,411 registered voters in the demkhong.  The turnout at the common forum was 1.56 percent. The turnout was poorer at the Dechenchhoeling-Taba forum on Saturday. Only 11 people from the constituency with 720 registered eligible voters came to listen to the candidates.

The common forum is a facility created by election authorities to provide an equal and cost-effective opportunity for candidates to address voters to reduce the need for separate meetings or door-to-door campaigning.

The three thrompon candidates, nevertheless, highlighted their pledges and shared their experiences with the voters.

The chief election coordinator for Thimphu, Thimphu Dzongdag Dorji Tshering, said that the common forum was a platform for voters to assess the potential of the candidates and decide whom to vote for.

Dorji Tshering said that the poor turnout in the common forums could be also attributed to the Covid-19 protocols and advisories.

Another reason for poor turnout, according to the Dzongdag, was the access to information about the candidates and their pledges on other platforms like social media.

“By now, the voter must have decided who to vote for. That is why they feel that it is not important to attend the common forum.”

Candidates share their manifestos on social networking sites and door-to-door campaign schedules.

A Thrompon candidate said that he was not worried about the poor turnout during the common forum.

He said that the reach was overwhelming through the social media platforms. “They know their candidates and the promises through social media.”

“In the common forum, the crowd consists of elderlies who are not comfortable with technology,” he said. “If our message reaches voters, I don’t see it necessary for them to attend common forums.”

Facebook is the most popular networking site to reach the voters, he added.

The public debate for the Thimphu Thrompon candidates will be held today at 6 pm in ECB head office.