The Speaker’s announcement on the early dissolution of the government in the run up to the 2013 elections has provoked mixed responses across the political spectrum. Many new political parties view this move as a shrewd strategy on the part of the ruling party to hijack the upcoming elections, without giving them a fair chance at competition.
The new parties, including the opposition, are still getting their house in order. They are struggling to field all the candidates in the 47 constituencies, forget the rest of it. Although the Election Commission of Bhutan has allowed the new parties to launch introductory tours, they have a lot of ground to cover. In this wake, early dissolution of the government that would push the election dates closer than anticipated gives new parties but little room to maneuver.
To top it all, the ruling party enjoys the advantage of incumbency. They have created a strong impression on the minds of the electorate with their visibility and presence in the last five years. The recent constituency visits and many to follow in the weeks to come will only reinforce DPT’s presence and further its chances of winning.
Certain quarters of Bhutanese society has questioned DPT’s decision to dissolve the government early, labeling it a political act of hitting under the belt. For a fact, the incumbent government can, and legitimately so, propose to the King to dissolve the government early. Only motivations for doing so can be scrutinized.
However, it should not be forgotten that all new political parties emerged only in the fag end of DPT’s five-year term. If timing is critical in politics, certainly new parties failed to see it. Look how the ruling party is timing the 2013 elections, whatever the justifications it still gains out of it.
If the new parties are caught off-guard, it is largely to do with the timing of their arrival. They entered the political scene rather too late when they could have started any time. What’s disconcerting is the fact that despite having been there for the last five years, the opposition party seems as ill prepared as any other new party.
All said and done, there’s still some time, and hope. As much as the ruling party enjoys an edge over others, it will also have to face a lot of anti-incumbency hostility. For all the wrong moves and policies it churned out during its term, certain disgruntled voters will definitely punish them by choosing to support a new, alternative party. That’s where new parties must come in. Time to buckle up!