Has the excitement for the 2023-2024 National Assembly elections picked up? Not sure, says many.

Within a week of announcing the rushed election period, politicians have spread across the country to be with the people to ensure support. Party presidents after the presidential debates, are zooming down on crucial dzongkhags or regions to ensure that the support base is maintained.

Meanwhile, the only excitement is on social media where bloopers from live debates are shared, twisted and mocked for whatever reasons. Somehow, the Bhutanese electorate seems not serious even with the fifth parliamentary elections at the door. Most get their (mis)information, and entertainment rather, from social media, especially TikTok. The only common thing talked about in the upcoming elections is who is entertaining people on TikTok.

While we may laugh at the mispronunciation or the blooper, we cannot deride elections or those who dared to contest. For the next five years, what happens to the country will depend on which political party comes to power, what it stands for and what its leaders envision for the country and the people.

However, as meetings are called to listen to politicians in the rush, the reaction from some quarters, especially those busy with securing their livelihood is a disappointment.

Voters are beginning to suffer campaign fatigue given the increased number of having to attend meetings.  Many are complaining, after the initial excitement, of too many meetings. The only excited people in the current election period are the candidates or their henchmen.

Numbers, as always matters, at least to parties. The number of people attending common forums, campaigns or party conventions is seen as a political party having the support of the masses. That too, many are convinced is fake, as political parties accuse each other of paying people to attend meetings or even taking pictures from the “right” angle to show maximum participation.

The headcount at conventions or meetings, as we know, does not necessarily translate into votes. It is a joke among many that some wayward people got free lunch for loitering around a party meeting. If a party or its leaders are wiser, they will not trust, for instance, the weather-beaten face at a common forum. In some cases, in the past, political parties were surprised when the votes they received were fewer than the number of paid tshogpas they deployed.

As a party president said, they can only rely on voters only after the poll day. Some parties are getting too excited with the Election Commission having to penalise them. Voters at this time should know the conduct of parties – the future government or opposition party. If parties are violating election rules, they should be named, penalised if not ashamed. The commission is too cautious to reveal the names of parties that violated election rules even after penalising them.

Who wins the 2023-2024 National Assembly election, many say, is up for luck. This is scary. Bhutanese cannot have a government elected by chance or luck. All five political parties have visions and policies that are convincing and could help Bhutan thrive as a middle-income level country.

This is not the first election. We have 15 years of experience and we need to remind ourselves that who we choose will have a bearing on who we are, where we stand and what we mean to the common Bhutanese.