Democracy in Bhutan: First Five Years 2008-13

Published In: 2013
ISBN: 978 99936 5 3097
No. of Pages: 206

Book Overview

When thousands of Bhutanese living in towns decided to go to their villages to vote for the first democratic elections of 2008, it was not just an emotional road trip - back to the hamlets, they grew up herding cattle, walking hours to school cross streams and forests. It was a journey to usher in a new parliament with lawmakers of their choice. It was a choice imposed by His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo the Man who scripted Bhutan’s Democracy. For that reason, 65-year-old Tshewang Dema with two pairs of Bata slippers as companions walked 600 kilometres from Thimphu to her village in Trashiyangtse - cars made her sick. This woman became the face of Bhutan’s smooth, non-violent transition to democracy. Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, the first elected government had an ambitious task ahead, a perilous path to tread. First of all, there were manifesto promises to be fulfilled, secondly, the cabinet comprised of mostly former bureaucrats were now exposed to public scrutiny and media trials. Thirdly, the always watchful was the National Council, the house of review and the two-member Opposition Party. In these five years (2008-2013), the parliament supported by the Executive, Judiciary and the constitutional bodies completed its terms and ushered commendable socio-economic development despite its own share of public criticism. The criticisms mainly revolved around the economy, unilateral policy decisions, corruptions and expenditure beyond means. On this backdrop, the 11 chapters of this book attempt to audit the first five years of democracy by highlighting how significant institutions functioned and also point out the defining trends or issues of the past five years. Despite many limitations including the difficult to access information, the intention of this analysis is to draw lessons for the future. The democratic process has just begun and we need to encourage an atmosphere of healthy debate and I humbly present this book for your review.

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