MB Subba 

Results of the third local government elections were still being compiled for some of the gewogs when the story had to hit the press.

An overwhelming number of citizens voted although the overall voter turnout was not declared even at midnight.

Election officials said that the voter turnout would be higher than that of the past LG elections. The voter turnout in the second LG elections was 55.8 percent.

The country elected a total of 197 gups, 205 mangmis and 14 dzongkhag thromde ngotshabs (town representatives). The two dzongkhags of Gasa and Pemagatshel did not have elections for thromde ngotshab.

Gups and mangmis are the chief executive officers (CEOs) and deputy CEOs of gewogs. Thromde ngotshabs represent the dzongkhag towns in the dzongkhag tshogdu.

Of the 1,044 chiwogs in the country, about 1024 elected their tshogpas yesterday. However, about 18 chiwogs will have to wait for the ECB to call another round elections due to lack of candidates.

Samdrupjongkhar Thromde also got its third thrompon and four thromde tshogpas. The thrompon-elect is Thinley Namgay, 39.

One of the five thromde tshogpa constituencies of Samdrupjongkhar remains vacant due to lack of an eligible candidate.

However, the local leaders-elect will have to wait until the completion of the 10-day petition period that to confirm their five-year tenures.

Election officials in dzongkhags cited the increase in the number of postal ballots as the reason for delay in result declaration.

According to some returning officers (ROs), the delay in the overseas postal ballot results was because the results could not be accessed on the dashboards of the ROs of the respective constituencies on time.

The Centre for Local Governance and Research’s (CLGR) executive director, Tharchen, said that the ECB could have conducted the election at ease had it used EVM in the facilitation booths.

“This time, ECB made the election process more complex by introducing paper mobile voting booths for people above 65 years who can be physically active,” he said.

The ECB’s spokesperson, Phub Dorji, said that the ECB ensured that the elections were held smoothly.

The elections also saw more female gup candidates winning the elections. However, the two female gups of the second local government could not make it to the third local government.

The elections were closely followed by the electorate given the increasing importance of local governments.

Local governments now exercise greater flexibility in terms of planning, budgeting and the use of funds. About 50 percent of the national budget is apportioned to local governments.

Tharchen said that the voters gave an unprecedented importance to the third LG elections. “The level of completion among the LG candidates was very high, which was encouraging, and the communities also actively participated in the election process,” he said.

A total of 60,951 eligible voters, which is 13 percent of the total registered voters in the third LG elections, were in the age group of 18 to 22 years. This means that they are the first-time voters in a local government election.

A total of 3,514 candidates participated in the election. Of the total, 597 and 617 contested for gup and mangmi respectively.

The ECB had set up 1,109 polling stations in the 20 dzongkhags.

However, elections for the post of gups in eight gewogs have been postponed to January 6 due to audit issues related to the candidates.

The eight gewogs are Chapcha gewog in Chukha, Dangchu and Nyisho in Wangdue, Patshaling in Tsirang, Guma in Punakha, Korphu in Trongsa, Soe in Thimphu, and Lunana in Gasa.