Going to the polls

Politicking has earnestly begun. Besides the two old parties, three new parties have emerged to contest in the 2013 elections and have presently applied for registration with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB).Bhutanese citizens queue to cast their v

A majority of the candidates are also being roped in by parties, with some even having had garnered more than half of the required candidates. Similarly, even candidates vying for a seat in the upper house, the National Council, are declaring their political interest through the media.

It’s an arduous time for the ECB as well, as it’s up a mammoth task, reviewing documents filed in by new parties, scrutinizing party candidates, and devising better strategies to ensure that 2013 elections are ‘free and fair’ as well.

Political parties – old or new, political candidates and all democratic institutions are full of activity for now. Everyone seems to be engrossed in the task and responsibility of ensuring Bhutan’s transition to democracy.

But what about us? Indubitably, we have responsibility too and the onus to ensure Bhutan’s democratic success as well. We have to make use of the precious privilege and power bestowed on us from the Golden Throne. And this can be done only by playing our part in the democratic process – by going to the polls.

The Royal Address of His Majesty the King on the 105th National Day last week also underlines the importance of Bhutan’s democratic transition and the people’s pivotal role in it. His Majesty has urged all people to exercise our right to vote by saying, “It comes but once in five years – for it is an act of great benefit to the Nation.”

“Today, the most important duty for us is the upcoming 2013 Parliament elections. I would like to say that we- all of us – are new to this democratic transition. We have all equally acquired four and a half years of experience in democracy. Experience comes with participation, so I urge you all to come forward as candidates, members of parties and voters for 2013.”

The Royal Address has many important messages as well for us to contemplate. All of us need to come together if we are to pave Bhutan’s successful transition to democracy.

And unquestionably, His Majesty has once again put up the aspirations of people on a higher pedestal by stressing that achieving democracy is not the ultimate goal and that democracy must be able to fulfill the aspirations of our people.

While it’s just a good start in our transition to democracy, much more still remains to be done, just like what His Majesty had told us. And for now, whether it’s good or bad times in the future, it’s on us. It will be determined by whether we are ready to go to the polls now.

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