National Council elections 2018

The third new set of 20 members of the Upper House representing the 20 districts has been formally chosen in the National Council elections held yesterday.

We offer our heartiest felicitations to the winning candidates who have been elected and it goes without saying that those who have not been through this time deserve our applauses too for having participated in the electoral process and for having offered more choices to the people.

The newly-member elects are the results of the democratic will and we must accept the results of the democratic will. Democratic will in its simplest form is all about the choice of the majority – the choice of the people. We, therefore, hope and expect that the newly-member elects would truly live to and work towards as expected out of them for the welfare of the people and the nation.

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) must be commended for ensuring a free and fair election. But most importantly, for going all the way out this time to make the elections more inclusive and all-encompassing.

Contrary to the past elections, the ECB had 69 postal ballot facilitation booths across the country operated from 9 am to 5 pm from April 12-14 to cater to those postal voters who have registered with the ECB. Similarly, nine mobile facilitation booths were opened to people with special needs, especially for the differently-abled, inmates and quarantined medical patients for the first time this year.

The ECB must also be applauded for facilitating postal ballot arrangement for non-residential Bhutanese, especially those from Australia this time. The facilitation of postal ballot on such a big scale must be commended. Increased participation in elections is important to ensure democratic participation and to ensure trust and confidence in the democratic process and democracy. Further, all the officials facilitating the elections that include civil servants, teachers, police and army personnel and others in all the 20 districts must be applauded for shouldering their responsibility with dedication, determination and integrity.

Contrary to the past elections, we have also seen a deluge of candidates vying for seats in the Upper House this time. This is a good indication and a healthy one for a democracy. More candidates mean more choices for the electorates and the latter can accordingly choose the best that they feel would best represent them.

Further, it would be unfair or incomplete if we don’t acknowledge our Bhutanese voters, those who have been taking out time and visiting the postal ballot facilitation booths in urban towns, those who have travelled to their districts and hometowns to vote, and those from rural hinterlands and far-flung villages who have exercised their electoral franchise. While voting may not be mandatory, there is no denying the fact that voting is the cornerstone of a democracy.