The tiny kingdom of Bhutan has voted for change yet again. A relatively new party, the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), will be in power for the next five years. And the man heading the new government will be doctor-turned-politician Lotay Tshering.
The election–only the third in a country that turned to democracy in 2008–was watched as closely by India as it was by the Chinese, given the geo-strategic significance of this land-locked nation.
The provisional results for Bhutan’s parliamentary elections that came in by late Thursday evening indicated a thumping victory for the DNT which won 30 seats in the 47-member National Assembly. This is six more seats that the required majority of 24 seats.
In the two-cornered contest in the second round of polling for the national Assembly–Bhutan follows the run-off system—Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) managed to win only 17 seats. It will be occupying the Opposition benches yet again, having done so in the last National Assembly.
The DNT’s victory isn’t entirely unexpected given that the party had emerged on top in the primary round of polling last month. However, the margin of votes between it and the DPT in the primary round was very narrow.
While the DNT got 31.8 per cent of the votes polled in the first round, the DPT had secured 30.9 per cent of the votes. The final round results indicate that the majority of Bhutanese voters decided to plump for a relatively new party as opposed to party that has been around for a decade.
The DNT’s victory also means that the Bhutanese voter has stuck to the trend of voting a new party to power every time it’s had parliamentary polls.
The DPT won the first parliamentary elections held in Bhutan in 2008 after then King decided to usher in democracy as opposed to having an absolute monarchy. Jigme Y Thinley who led the first democratically elected government of Bhutan gave New Delhi some reason for concern as he was seen as being pro-China. His decision to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Rio +20 Summit in Brazil in 2012 had caused alarm in New Delhi.
In 2013, the DPT lost the polls to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Tshering Tobgay took charge as PM. His stint saw New Delhi-Thimphu ties return to an even keel. With another new face set to take charge in Thimphu, New Delhi will be keeping its fingers crossed.