The general round of the 2023-2024 National Assembly (NA) elections saw the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) battle with the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP). It was a tussle between Bhutan’s oldest and youngest political party. The former prevailed with a comfortable majority, winning 30 of the 47 NA seats. BTP triumphed in 17 seats. This makes the PDP the first party since the introduction of parliamentary elections in 2008 to form a government twice. The party won in the 2013 general elections and formed the government.
As spelled by leaders and members of the two parties, massive tasks await the next government, with putting Bhutan’s economy back on track, overshadowing many others. This comes in the backdrop of Bhutan having graduated from the list of Least Developed Countries (LDC). Thus, we are a country that is not one of the LDCs, but one whose reserves have hit rock bottom and where economic parameters like employment, inflation, and others are not healthy.
It would be safe to say that all political parties who contested in the 2023-2024 elections knew about the state of our economy. Thus, all political parties had the economy at the core of their manifestos. The PDP also has the economy at the center of its contract with the people. Drukyul cannot be made better without fixing the economy first. The party will need to accelerate the establishment of its Nu 15 billion Economic Stimulus plan and then utilize it, keeping the Nation’s interest and the economy at the core of all activities. This would involve further dissection of the party’s pledges and weighing it against economic and other costs. The party should ensure that fulfillment of its pledges does not come with collateral damages to the Nation and its people.
BTP’s triumph in the 16 eastern constituencies has people spinning the regional story and further giving legitimacy to claims that constituencies where the ruling party has no representatives are ignored and left behind in the march toward peace and prosperity. Such theories, churned in the kitchens of populous politics are detrimental to balanced regional development and the health of a nation. We are very small a nation to be divided along ideological and political lines. Both PDP and BTP hold the sacred responsibility to dispel such misgivings and convey the message that all 47 in the National Assembly are representatives of the people of Bhutan.
An added but very significant responsibility that the people’s representatives hold is to assist His Majesty the King as the Royal Hands chisel the intricate aspects of the Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC). The government and the opposition should seize this as an opportunity, for they will be remembered as those who represented the people in the early days of the landmark project, envisaged for today and tomorrow’s Bhutan.
Exciting and anxious times await the 47 representatives of the people!