What changed the game?

The factors that decided the triumph of DNT and DPT

The much anticipated primary election 2018 results are out.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) emerged the winner with highest vote count winning in 16 constituencies, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) runners up, sweeping away 22 constituencies while the maximum number of EVM votes went to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) (56,180 votes). Meanwhile, Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) did not manage to get even 10% of the votes.

Business Bhutan spoke to a number of political analysts and observers who followed the primary elections closely and they spelt out what were the game changers for the two parties that were victorious.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa

The concept of change and populist appeal of the message ‘Narrowing the gap’ attributed to the victory of DNT in the third round of primary election in Bhutan. The party’s message of change resonated strongly among the educated and young voters. The party was seen as an option for change.

The leadership quality of Lotay Tshering was another factor attributing to the party’s victory. He was known as a doctor and man of medicine but he proved his capability as an articulate politician among the people.

The use of social media added another advantage for DNT. The party used social media frequently to reach out to their voters. Well organized and structured media teams were roaming social media 24/7, with postings of each and every movement of the campaign. The journalists active on social media picked up on the content and brought it to the attention of the mainstream media. DNT aimed to address voters directly with an active campaign on Facebook.

The short video clip about the former BBS employee Dawa, the DNT candidate for Chhoekor-Tang constituency in Bumthang which went viral on social media garnered sympathy for the candidate and also for the party. Dawa’s bold statement in the video nailed the coffin. The emotion evoked by Dawa’s video connected people.

The role of social media is crucial during the elections: it has shown the politicians and their supporters at their most beautiful but also at their ugliest sometimes so was with Dawa’s case.

DNT secured the first position receiving 37,556 postal ballots and 55, 166 votes via EVM taking the total to 92,722.

Business Bhutan caught up with the DNT president, Lotay Tshering and asked what attributed to their victory.

Lotay Tshering said the party had no strategies but it was the passion of the party which led to their success in the primary round. “We narrated solutions to the problems of the people. We spoke their language,” he added.

He further mentioned that it was not some “DNT factor” that won some portions of votes from the South but due to electoral awareness. Being able to connect with the people was what mattered most to the party.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa

Meanwhile, for DPT the game changer was the loyalty of the Eastern voters and some from central constituencies. The Southern frontier was divided between PDP and DNT.

Had it not been the votes from the East then the party would have succumbed in the primary round. The last two cycles of election is the evident that the party had strong support from the East along with some parts from the center.

In 2008, though there was no primary election, during the general round DPT received overwhelming support from the East along with the other constituencies. The party continued to receive votes from the East even during the primary round 2018 along with a few central constituencies.

DPT secured the highest votes from Bumthang, Samdrup Jongkhar, Monggar, Zhemgang, and Pemagatshel in the primaries 2018.

In the 2013 elections, during the primary round, DPT dominated both the constituencies of Bumthang securing 2,982 votes including both postal ballots and EVM. So was the case in 2018: the party secured 3,508 votes from both the constituencies of Bumthang.

DPT obtained 5,145 votes from the two constituencies of Samdrup Jongkhar back in 2013 and this time round the party received 7,381 votes in total.

Three constituencies of Monggar favored DPT back in 2013 with 8,788 votes and even today with 10,782 votes.

DPT secured 3,449 votes from Zhemgang in 2013 and 4,917 votes this time.

Pemagatshel in 2013 gave 9,004 votes to DPT and10,692 votes this time.

DPT had a stronghold in both the constituencies of Trashiyangtse with 4,141 votes in 2013 and 5,443 votes in 2018.

The Southern constituencies which were mostly dominated by PDP did not favor the party as most of the votes of the party were chipped off by DNT.

DPT stood second with 36,912 postal ballots and 53,108 votes via EVM taking the total to 90,020 votes.

DPT’s General Secretary Sangay Phurba said the party’s past record of winning the elections was one of the game changers as the party has formed both the government and the Opposition. “We won more postal ballots which meant that our manifesto also went down well with the voters,” he added.

The General Secretary also said the composition of candidates and the party’s stronghold of Eastern Bhutan attributed as a major game changer for the party as the candidates and the president of the party were able to connect and communicate with the people both at the grass-root and urban level.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu