Making (non)sense of democracy

When People’s Democratic Party (PDP) lost in 2008 elections, a band of disgruntled PDP supporters knocked on the doors of the palace, petitioning the King to do away with democracy by reinstating the Monarchy again. This move was naïve at best and ignorant at worst. Then, it was the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) supporters who found this whole theatrics a concoction of some demented minds.

The tables have turned in 2013 elections. After winning just 15 seats, angry and disillusioned DPT supporters drew up a 15-point grievances at the party convention this week to be submitted to the King, lest the elected members should give up the role of the opposition. The message was clear – they were willing to go the extreme end of holding the democratic process at ransom if their grievances were not addressed. The DPT convention also saw some of its members make outrageously bold statements against important institutions in the country.

Such acts of mindless audacity do not bode well for Bhutan’s young democracy. While the electorate and party supporters should enjoy the freedom to vent out their disappointments, they must understand that in democratic elections, it is the will of the majority that ultimately counts.paved-road

Truth is, like it or not, the people of Bhutan have given their verdicts. PDP has won and will now form the new government. If there were malpractices in the election process, there are appropriate channels and institutions to redress the issues. First, we must exhaust these available means. The King must be the last and the final authority of appeal.

In fact, it’s time Bhutanese people understand that it’s best not to drag the Monarch in every little scuffle we have. The sanctity of the throne cannot be adulterated by petty political maneuverings of parties or groups. The King is and must always be kept above politics.

Political parties take part in elections with a profound sense of purpose – to serve the nation in the best possible way they can. At least that’s what their election campaigns are all about. Post elections, both winning and losing parties should have the grace and courage to accept the results.

More than that, they should reach out to each other and the people to reconcile the differences instead of fueling more disquiet and tension. As a small country, any rift, big or small, could pose potential danger to our unity and stability. And citizens and politicians alike must always keep the larger interest of the nation in mind.

At the end of the day, Bhutan’s democracy must live up to its unique features, which we so unabashedly brag about. Despite the heat and dust, we must aspire to make our politics exemplary. If we want to sustain and leave a legacy of a vibrant democracy into perpetuity, we must pave the way for it today.


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