Yangyel Lhaden


Dagana— A 71-year-old man from Gozhi gewog is determined not to miss voting this time after missing to vote in the primary election. However, he appreciates both the candidates from his constituency, Drukjegang-Tseza and does not want to devote the support to one candidate.

“Both candidates pledge progress for the dzongkhag,” he said. “It would be unfair to allocate all my family’s votes to one candidate.”

His family has nine members. “My family will distribute its votes among the two candidates, with one additional vote going to the party we favour,” he said. “It would have been easier to vote for just one if one had said something wrong, but both are expressing only good intentions.”

A 60-year-old woman from Karna gewog said that she couldn’t decide whom to vote for. “I have to consult with my family since it is not a matter for me alone to make a choice.”

While a voter from Lhamoidzingkha-Tashiding constituency said that the decision on whom to vote for is usually discussed and decided among the villagers. “If I vote for another candidate and the village’s chosen candidate and party do not win, then there would be chaos.”

However, he said when his village favoured Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa in the 2018 elections, he voted for another party. “I was lucky because DNT won.”

A voter from Tashiding said, “I trust whichever party comes to power will benefit the nation and serve with sincerity and dedication.”

The father of an armed force personnel from Tashiding made a phone call after receiving the postal ballot. “Son, there is no thrung thrung (cranes) picture on the ballot paper; I might have received the wrong postal ballot.” The son told him that Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) did not make it to the general round, and now he had to choose between the Elephant logo candidate and the Horse logo candidate. “My father has always voted for DPT,” the armed force personnel said.

In Khebisa gewog, Jamyang Yangchen, 26, said that most people in Dagana were familiar with the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate Sonam Dorji from Drukjeygang-Tseza since he served as a National Council member. “We came to the common forum to see the Bhutan Tendrel Party’s candidate Nima Tshering.”

She said, “Both candidates are competent, and whichever party wins would form a strong government and opposition.”

However, Jamyang said she hopes that almost an equal number of seats would be won by both the government and opposition for a vibrant democracy. “The real question is whether the party who comes to power would actually fulfil the manifestos as I find the manifestos of both parties very ambitious.”

Another voter said that villagers, especially the elderly, still faced difficulty in voting for the right candidate and party. “It is the fourth election, and people still don’t understand that one’s vote is secret, and they can vote for whoever they want.”

“In the primary election, an elderly woman was asking me. She forgot who her son told her to vote for and she was confused about whom to vote for now,” the woman said. “Some villagers look for immediate gains and do not weigh the pledges of both the parties; they vote for whoever they are influenced by.”

Sonam Tshering, a voter from Drukjeygang-Tseza constituency, said that people should not think of short-term benefits and vote for a candidate that would benefit in the next five years. “If people vote through influence, fair elections would be compromised, and it is important to ensure fair elections, especially for aspiring candidates from poor families, to gain confidence to contest in the election.”

Dagana has 5.72 percent of the country’s total registered voters with 28,466 voters in both the constituencies. Of the total registered voters, 17,304 voters voted in the primary election making 5.5 percent of total voter turnout in the country.

Names were withheld as requested by the interviewees.