- The last round of Bhutan general elections are going to be conducted on October 18, 2018.
- The first round of elections in September 2018 witnessed defeat of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT).
- In first round of elections DNT emerged winner followed by Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) second in line and PDP being last.
- According to the Bhutanese Constitution, only two parties can face off in the last round of general elections.
- So, DNT and PDP who represent opposites in terms of their experience are going to fight the last round to be held in October.
- Glaring trends in the first round of elections held in September 2018:
- While ordinary voter favoured the PDP, ultimately the postal ballots, used by government officials and their families as well as military personnel, swung the vote in favour of DNT.
- Votes were polarised between more prosperous Western Bhutan and less developed Eastern Bhutan.
- For example, the DNT and PDP won seats only in the western half while the DPT, won one constituency in the east, and only two in the west.
Impact on India-Bhutan ties:
- Regardless of which party comes to power, India-Bhutan ties are expected to be accorded their customary priority as Bhutan’s monarch, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, retains a considerable influence over the nation’s foreign policy.
- However, India must note that while the DNT has made “narrowing the gap” its motto, with India, the DPT, which lost elections in 2013 after India suddenly pulled fuel subsidies for Bhutan, has campaigned on the slogan of “sovereignty and self-sufficiency”. India should remained cautioned about it.
- The ‘China factor’ will also be closely watched for its impact, a year after the India-China standoff on the Bhutanese Doklam plateau.
- 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of formal relations between India and Bhutan, built on cultural ties, mutual strategic interests, and India’s role in building roads and assisting in hydropower projects that became the mainstay of the Bhutanese economy.