Moments from the First Session of the 4th Parliament

The first session of the Fourth Parliament will conclude today, June 6, 2024, with His Majesty gracing the closing session with his blessings. This session has been marked by several notable takeaways, many of which were highlighted in the Prime Minister’s State of the Nation Address.

Despite the positive outcomes, there are significant lessons to be learned and precautions to be taken. As elected representatives of the people, members of Parliament are entrusted with the hope and expectation that they will work to improve the lives of their constituents. However, there have been troubling instances of alleged regionalism within the august house, particularly when opposition members advocated for their constituencies. It was heartening to observe that some MPs from the ruling party supported these opposition members, demonstrating a spirit of cooperation.

The session also showcased a robust display of internal democracy, particularly within the National Assembly. During the heated debates on the National Assembly Amendment Bill and the motion of no-confidence, the floor transformed into a battleground of ideas and ideologies. Remarkably, the discourse was predominantly driven by members of the ruling government, with only two opposition MPs voicing their perspectives on the issue.

This dynamic interaction should not be misinterpreted as a challenge from the MPs or perceived as a threat by the ministers. Instead, it highlights the vibrancy and health of the parliamentary process, where diverse viewpoints and critical discussions are encouraged and valued. The Prime Minister has emphasized his commitment to accountability and performance within his cabinet, stating unequivocally that ministers who fail to meet the required standards of effectiveness will be removed from their positions. This power, which he holds constitutionally, necessitates only a formal report to the Druk Gyalpo.

The internal democracy exhibited during this session of the National Assembly is a testament to the evolving and maturing political landscape. It shows a commitment to transparency, accountability, and the active engagement of all parliamentary members in the governance process. The Prime Minister’s firm stance on performance and the willingness of ruling party members to engage in critical discussions set a positive precedent for the future, ensuring that the government remains responsive and responsible to the needs of its people.

In the Upper House, all recommendations for people living with disabilities were adopted, despite eight members voting against them. This division was noteworthy; as such splits are rare in the National Council, particularly on social issues. This raises the question of whether there are emerging divisions within the NC.

As this session ends, the reflections and actions taken will serve as a foundation for future governance, ensuring that the voices of all citizens are heard and their needs addressed. The cooperation and debates witnessed in this session are crucial for the health of the nation’s democracy, signaling a commitment to progress and unity amidst diversity.