Who will be the next PM of Bhutan?

Who will be the next Prime Minister of Bhutan? The question has sparked debate among the Bhutanese as Bhutan gears up for the third general round of elections.

Pema Gyamtsho, 57, is a seasoned politician with 10 years of experience in politics and Lotay Tshering who participated in the 2013 elections though unproven in the political arena has established for himself a reputation and is a household name and savior to many commoners.

October 18 will tell the whole “nation who the next Prime Minister of Bhutan will be. Till then, speculations are on.

Business Bhutan asked around about the oomph factor that the presidents of both the parties, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), possess and received an interesting array of answers. The respondents however sought anonymity to protect themselves.

A former parliamentarian said both leaders are capable of leading their parties. He said Pema Gyamtsho is a seasoned politician with an experience as a cabinet minister and opposition leader in the parliament for last decade and an established name in the field of politics while Lotay Tshering is fresh and is yet to prove his potential but a hardworking person who will not leave any stone unturned given a chance. “He is energetic.”

“The DPT president is a man of temperament; his calmness and coolness is commendable and he has a good team to form the government. The DNT president on the other hand is a bit impulsive during the campaigns and besides being a surgeon in the hospital he has little knowledge in politics. He does not have practical experience as a politician,” he added.

According to a former journalist, both leaders have their own personalities and both have their own strengths as a leader.

“Both stand out well from among the 47 member pool they have following their campaign speech, conduct and tactics,” he said.

But when it comes to measuring the leadership qualities, he mentioned that Pema Gyamtsho stands ahead of Lotay Tshering and the obvious reason is Lotay Tshering does not have practical experience although he may have certain political ideas and knowledge.

“But again if the debates tell us anything, DNT’s candidates are not able to justify and explain their own pledges well, meaning Lotay’s team composition seems weak in its individual leadership capacities. If the way they articulate their thoughts and approach to campaign speeches and tackling criticism of each other, they both are doing well, except DNT’s other candidates are failing behind the Pema Gyamtsho’s armies in their mandates to defend and justify their stand,” he explained.

A class XII student from one of the schools in Thimphu said Pema Gyamtsho is humble and have national and international experience and has experience as a government minister and opposition leader.

A civil servant based in Samtse said that he found both the presidents competent and visionary however, he feels that Lotay Tshering is not well versed in terms of foreign policy and foreign diplomatic relations.

A corporate employee based in Thimphu mentioned Pema Gyamtsho is seasoned and well experienced in diplomatic relations compared to Lotay Tshering who has only interacted with the people and not in state level meetings. “What I hear from my friends and colleagues is that DPT president is someone who was with the government and has lot of experience but if Lotay wins, he will be a prime minister, coming straight from the doctor’s chamber. Lotay will make a good MP but not as the PM; most people say he is arrogant,” he said.

Further, he mentioned that Pema Gyamtsho obviously has years of experience in the government and leadership level with ministerial experience while Lotay Tshering will be able to address people issues with health care as he has travelled to every corner of the country.

However, both the presidents do not have an experience in the Prime Ministerial post.

Pema Gyamtsho served as the agriculture minister during the first democratically elected government and as the opposition leader in the last five years and he is probably waiting for this opportunity – to become the next prime minister. On the other hand, Lotay Tshering a popular figure who needs not much introduction has proven his capabilities in the medical field as a man of medicine. Will his popularity and social deeds pave a way for him to be the next PM of Bhutan?

Lotay Tshering, 50, is a consultant urologist by profession and has 15 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He joined politics out of sheer interest and passion. Also he paid Nu 6.2mn in training obligation to the government to resign from the civil service and join politics in 2013. He was a recipient of the Druk Thuksey at the National Day celebrations in Haa last year.

He holds MBBS from Dhaka University, Bangladesh, General Surgery, BCPS, Dhaka University, Bangladesh and completed his MBA from Canberra University.

Pema Gyamtsho was the Chairman of the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment and Conservation and he initiated Bhutan’s largest national park, the Wangchuck Centennial Park. He further declared Bhutan’s pledge to remain a carbon neutral country for all times and its aspiration to gradually move towards fully organic farming system as part of the country’s efforts to combat climate change.

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

Chencho Dema from Thimphu