Clean elections ahead?

The third parliamentary elections that we will witness some months away may perhaps be a clean one without political parties resorting to corrupt practices and mudslinging.

This is at least going by what political parties pledged during a panel discussion a month ago at RITH in Thimphu that was organized by Bhutan Democracy Dialogue. Political parties then vowed to refrain from corrupt practices to achieve their political goal and to keep the national interests ahead of party interests.

Divisive politics, which Bhutan is not alien to, was another concern raised during the discussion in nurturing a young democracy. Unequivocally, we had seen its impacts during the last two elections how politics could be divisive. The scars are still reminiscent in some rural villages where neighbors of yesteryears are still strangers because of politics. Old friends have become new foes and villages have been divided along political lines. Still today, neighbors are no longer in talking terms and relatives have become enemies; a bad side of politics that seemed to have seeped into the very family bonds. Similarly, we had also seen how the negative side of politics had divided the whole country based on party lines, party supporters, regions and religion.

This does not bode well for a country like ours given our slow start relatively in institutionalizing democracy and given the small population that we have. We are new when it comes to democracy. We are just two elections old. We cannot afford politics to have such detrimental impacts and we cannot fathom what the scenario is likely to be if such a trend continues and with widened division among the people. Love, compassion and solidarity are vital elements that bind us together as a community, as a people, and as a nation. We must not lose the intrinsic values of our culture and the essential values that define our society. The appropriate thing is that all of us must come together and ensure that all wounds are healed after the elections.

And as we head to the next elections, His Majestyโ€™s National Day address in Haa on December 17, 2017 is, therefore, a timely reminder of what we must exactly do. His Majesty addressed the congregation that how more than external factors, we can become more vulnerable with internal instability and how Bhutan has been most fortunate to be a close-knit community.

According to His Majesty, for us, it is most important that, no matter how grave the external threats may be, nothing can harm us if we are united like members of a closely bonded family. There will always be challenges but we can face and overcome the most perilous crises as long as we are internally resolute and strong.