Parliament is expected to endorse and open them up for early elections

Township: If work to carve out the 16 new dzongkhag thromdes goes as planned, the country will see elections in all 20 thromdes in the second local government elections due early next year.

Boundaries of the new thromdes have been proposed and will be presented in the summer session of the parliament.  Parliament’s declaration of the thromdes will pave the way for the elections that will fulfil the constitutional requirement of having a thromde tshogde in every dzongkhag.

At the moment, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is reviewing and refining the proposed electoral constituencies.  It is also reviewing the implications of all the thromdes, including that of yenlag thromdes, on affected gewogs and chiwogs.

Officiating chief election commissioner (CEC), Deki Pema, said the commission was working in anticipation that there would not be many changes in the proposed boundaries.  She said the commission expected to complete all the groundwork on the delimitation of the thromdes as soon as possible.

“We hope elections can be called in the coming year in all the thromdes and gewogs of 20 dzongkhags, so that the local government will be in place as envisioned (in the Constitution),” Deki Pema said.  Article 22 (2) of the Constitution prescribes that the country should have local governments in all the dzongkhags comprising the dzongkhag tshogdu, gewog tshogde and thromde tshogde.

Deki Pema said the ECB had been reminding the government about the requirement and importance to fulfil the constitutional requirement with respect to the local government. “We’ve finished quite a lot of work in all the dzongkhags through our dzongkhag election offices,” she said.

ECB will be able to carry out the next stage of delimitation work, like public hearings, once Parliament declares the thromdes of the constituencies. It is today carrying out preparatory works on delimitation, based on the groundwork the land commission and the works and human settlement ministry have completed.

The delimitation committee, whose members are two election commisssioners, secretaries of the works and human settlement and the home ministries and the surveyer general, is chaired by the chief election commisioner.

Director of human settlement department, Wangchuk Thayey, said the ministry had received the proposed boundaries from all the dzongkhags.  The report on the boundaries is expected to receive the cabinet’s nod, after which it will be presented to Parliament.

“The Cabinet has asked for clear boundaries,” he said.  After Parliament declares the boundaries, Wangchuk Thayey said maps would be printed.

The report on the proposed thromdes is likely to be presented in a joint sitting of Parliament.  The last delimitation exercise of thromdes saw a submission to a joint sitting.

Given the small population in some of the dzongkhags, the number of constituencies within the thromdes will have to be maintained at the lowest.  A thromde tshogde will not have more than 10 and less than seven elected members, according to the Constitution.

Each constituency will be represented by a tshogpa, and each yenlag throm by a thuemi (representative). “It’s possible that there may be marginal or minimal number of voters and candidates in some of the thromdes,” Deki Pema said.

However, ECB believes that once the thromdes were formally declared, and with increasing voter education, there would be adequate number of voters and candidates.  The number of constituencies in a thromde will depend on factors such as the population size, distance and the road connectivity.

The move comes after the last session of Parliament resolved legal inconsistencies by amending the LG Act, which had hindered the declaration of dzongkhag thromdes.  The last session decided that every dzongkhag would have a thromde, resulting in the election of 20 thrompons.

By MB Subba