ECB’s new rubric warmly welcomed

Training for free and fair elections

In preparation for the upcoming Fourth Parliamentary National Assembly elections in Bhutan, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has taken proactive steps to ensure the integrity and fairness of the electoral process. ECB recently conducted a comprehensive training program for political parties and candidates participating in the elections, held during the first week of September.

During these training sessions, political candidates received guidance on election conduct, including the code of conduct for political parties and candidates, as well as associated penalties and enforcement measures. ECB also provided valuable insights into the responsible use of social media and mainstream media platforms throughout the election period.

The Commission further emphasized dispute resolution mechanisms related to election matters, ensuring that parties and candidates were well-versed in the procedures for addressing election-related disputes.

To bolster the integrity of the democratic process, representatives from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) shed light on potential corruption scenarios during elections and underscored the ACC’s role in combating corruption. Constituency representatives were encouraged to set an example in upholding ethical standards.

In addition to these critical topics, political candidates received training in public speaking. Trainers covered various aspects of effective speech delivery, including speech introductions and conclusions, the use of important proverbs and inspirational sayings, and appropriate language choices, including colloquial and honorific language. Candidates were also coached on public speaking etiquette during public debates and common forums.

Namgyal Dorji, the candidate of Kabisa-Talog from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), praised the training’s usefulness, particularly emphasizing the benefits of language and social etiquette training for many candidates.

Kelzang Phuntsho, a candidate from Dewathang-Gomdar representing the PDP, found ECB’s training to be highly informative.

Lekdan Zangmo, a candidate from the Khar-Yurung Constituency, expressed gratitude for the training provided by ECB, highlighting its role in helping candidates adhere to the code of conduct and contribute to free and fair elections. She stated, “The dos and don’ts reminded by the ECB will ensure a free and fair election.”

Meanwhile, one new candidates from Druk Thuendrel  Tshogpa said that trainings were not up to their expectation.

Some candidates raised concerns about the lack of flexibility in election rules and advocated for door-to-door campaigning. Others called for the expansion of Postal Ballot services to include State-Owned Enterprises and private employees, as they viewed the current limitation to civil servants as a restriction on voters’ rights.

As Bhutan gears up for its Fourth Parliamentary National Assembly elections, the ECB’s efforts to equip political candidates with the necessary knowledge and skills demonstrate the commitment to holding a transparent, free, and fair electoral process in the nation.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu