The four prime ministerial choices


The presidents of the four political parties unquestionably have all the qualities that are expected of a prime minister. While the two old parties and their presidents have experience on their side having served in the ruling and the opposition, the two new presidents and their parties are fresh blood, albeit their political grit and finesse are yet to be tested.

The two new presidents are equally strong contenders, who have accomplished a lot in their own areas. They are equally versatile and erudite, with proven credentials in their respective fields.

Business Bhutan takes a closer look at the four party presidents, one of who will go on to become the prime minister of the third democratically elected government after the 2018 elections.

Dasho Neten Zangmo, BKP

The former chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Dasho Neten Zangmo, is the president of Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP).

She stands equally strong with the other three male contenders for the post of the prime minister. She is also among the few women in the country who have served in important posts in various capacities.

If Dasho Neten Zangmo becomes the next prime minister, it will be historic since she would be Bhutan’s first female prime minister since democracy took birth in 2008. This may not be a clinching reason to vote for her, but why not? She has served as both cabinet and foreign secretary and has proved her capabilities.

Dasho Neten Zangmo studied at Sherubtse public school and holds a bachelors’ degree in civil engineering and masters in technical education.

BKP’s Secretary General Sonam Tobgay describes Dasho Neten Zangmo as a person far from being a politician in the conventional sense of its definition.

“But she joined BKP realizing an urgent need to change the view on politics, politicians and democracy. Fulfilling the aspirations of His Majesty to deepen democracy and enforce good governance in particular,” he added.

Further, Sonam Tobgay said Dasho Neten brings with her the richest experience having served as a government secretary for the foreign ministry and the Cabinet.

“Needless to say, she made her name while serving as the ACC Chairperson. She was awarded the Druk Thuksey honors and the red scarf. This speaks volumes of her leadership and achievements,” he said, adding that she is admired for the person she is within BKP and always remains to be guided by her solid footing on ground realities.

Dr. Lotay Tshering, DNT

Though unproven in the political arena, Dr. Lotay Tshering is the frontrunner of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT).

While he may be new to politics, Dr. Lotay Tshering has established himself with reputation of a devoted social worker and that of a savior, who responds to the needs of the common lot. It will be, therefore, worthwhile to see whether the vibes of a Good Samaritan literally would translate to election triumph. The answer could even be affirmative.

DNT is confident. The party believes that it has elected the right person in Dr. Lotay Tshering to lead the party and even lead the nation if given an opportunity.

“The kind of leader we have elected is representative of a break from the conventional mindset of looking up to and believing only senior bureaucrats can make the best helmsman. Provided one has genuine intentions, complemented with right qualities, any professional, journalists for example, can aspire to lead a political party,” states the party.

DNT describes that Dr. Lotay Tshering embodies bright, new ideas that are in keeping with the sort of change in governance the people are hoping and looking for.

“The leadership qualities in the president have been proven during his career as a medical practitioner spanning for over 15 years. It entailed critical decision making at every stage, most of which had to do with lives of people. He presents an impressive credential of having traversed some of the most challenging terrains across the country, taking his medical expertise to people, especially the weak and the disadvantaged,” the party said.

Dr. Lotay Tshering, 50, is a consultant urologist by profession.

Dr. Pema Gyamtsho (PhD), DPT

The party president of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), Dr. Pema Gyamtsho (Ph.D), has proven himself as a seasoned politicians, having had served as the agriculture minister during the reign of the first democratically elected government and as the leader of the opposition party in the last five years.

In DPT, there is no denying that Dr. Pema stands as a president and a seasoned politician, who has probably waited for his turn for this opportunity – to become the next prime minister. And it seems he has got both experience and familiarity going for him. However, one lingering question is whether people will hold what happened back in the infamous party conference against him or will they give him the benefit of the doubt.

When in the government, Dr. Pema Gyamtsho was the Chairman of the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment and Conservation and he spearheaded the country’s successful rural poverty alleviation program. And through his initiative, Bhutan initiated its largest national park, the Wangchuck Centennial Park. He further declared Bhutan’s pledge to remain a carbon neutral country for all time and its aspiration to gradually move towards a fully organic farming system as part of the country’s efforts to combat climate change.

DPT’s Secretary General Sangay Phurba describes Dr. Pema Gyamtsho as a person who is humble, down to earth, approachable and decisive.

“We see him as the best leader because he is visionary with clear mission and objectives to lead. He is well qualified and experienced both at the national and international level,” he added.

Dr. Pema Gyamtsho holds M.Agr.Sc (Hons) from New Zealand. He completed his PhD from ETH Zurich in 1996. He is also the recipient of the Lincoln Alumni International Medal in April.

Dasho Tshering Tobgay, PDP

The president of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dasho Tshering Tobgay, has proven himself as a seasoned political leader, having led the opposition from 2008 to 2013 and then heading the second democratically elected government as its prime minister from 2013 to 2018.

Dasho Tshering Tobgay has proven himself with a well-earned reputation of being a good orator, a staunch royalist and an overall approachable persona, who has steadied the rocking boat after the tumultuous waters of 2013. After PDP’s 2013 victory, Dasho Tshering Tobgay has established himself as a formidable leader of the new generation, replacing the old order of former ministers.

“In the past five years, he has proven his leadership credentials after having successfully implemented the 11th Five Year Plan as the head of the government,” the party added.

According to PDP, Dasho Tshering Tobgay has earned the respect and admiration of the international community and promoted Bhutan’s stature in the international arena.

Describing Dasho Tshering Tobgay as a true son of the soil, the party maintained that the president is young, dynamic, hardworking, and is strongly grounded in Bhutanese values and culture.

“He understands the pulse of the people, their hardships and struggles, their hopes and aspirations. And given his strong track record, he has the leadership attributes to deliver. He believes in serving with humility in the true spirit of servant leadership as exemplified by His Majesty The King,” the party added.

Dasho Tshering Tobgay is also the recipient of the prestigious ‘Lungmar’ scarf from His Majesty during the National Day in 2014.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu