38 register for ECB’s seminar at Thimphu

Sources say 38 people registered for the seminar for aspiring NC candidates, as of Friday(sept 9,2022). Meanwhile people laud the ECB’s move

In one of the first important initiatives that the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is organizing for the National Council elections 2023, the Commission will be holding a seminar for the aspirants.

The registration for those interested in the seminar began on September 1, 2022. While registrations can be done at the respective districts, sources close to Business Bhutan said that as of Friday morning (September 9, 2022), 38 have registered for the seminar in Thimphu.

In a notification issued earlier, the ECB stated that the seminar for aspiring candidates is aimed at making them conversant with electoral laws and helping them participate in the elections meaningfully. The seminar is expected to orient them on the requirements for contesting elections and “deepen their understanding of the electoral processes, specifically related to the fourth NC elections”.

“Besides, the ECB wishes to use the seminar as the platform to respond to any query that the aspiring candidates may have regarding the election,” the notification stated.

Additionally, the ECB has asked individuals with intentions to contest the elections to register either with the ECB head office in Thimphu or the nearest dzongkhag election office, adding that the exact date, time, and venue shall be communicated subsequently.

While it cannot be said that all who register for the seminar are NC aspirants, it gives an idea about the type of people, demography, and others who are interested to compete for the NC.

However, there are others who say those participating in the seminar are “sure contestants of the NC.” “In the first place, why would people register, if they are not interested,” a corporate employee said.

He also added that the ECB has taken a very good move. “There is a confusion between what a campaign and a visit to one’s village means. Most will not know the electoral laws and the recent changes calls for such seminars,” he said.

An aspirant, who did not want to be named said that the seminar is also an opportunity to know who one’s opponents are. “The seminar will definitely be very helpful. Most of us do not know the electoral laws, especially when it comes to the dos and don’ts,” he said, adding that if one is ignorant, the ECB may disqualify the candidate. “And as I said earlier, we will know who our opponents are, which is important,” he said.

According to Article 11 of the Constitution, The National Council shall consist of twenty-five members comprising: (a) One member elected by the voters in each of the twenty Dzongkhags, and (b) Five eminent persons nominated by the Druk Gyalpo.

Besides its legislative functions, the National Council shall act as the House of review on matters affecting the security and sovereignty of the country and the interests of the nation and the people that need to be brought to the notice of the Druk Gyalpo, the Prime Minister and the National Assembly. A candidate or a member of the National Council shall not belong to any political party.

Unlike the National Assembly, the NC cannot be kept vacant. Right after members of the NC complete their terms, their chairs should be filled the next day. In other words, the NC elections have to be concluded to ensure that the fourth NC is reconstituted before the completion of the term, as the NC is a continuous House.

The current NC was constituted on May 10, 2018. Accordingly, the five-year term of the third NC will end tentatively on May 9, 2023, which means that the current NC has roughly eight months to complete its term. The 2018 NC elections were announced in February and the polls were held on April 20. Meanwhile, according to the NC Act, incumbent members can re-contest without resigning.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu