The Bhutanese people chose their next set of leaders yesterday. And this time, it’s the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that wins over the people’s trust with comfortable margin. This time the people have voted for change over continuity and experience. We welcome the people’s choice.
The run-up to the election has been often confusing for ordinary Bhutanese who have been caught up in often confusing and discordant politicking. But in the end, here we are – one undented nation with a renewed sense of hope and direction. We hope that the new government will take Bhutan to greater heights as promised.
If the former government brought experience and continuity, the PDP brings youthful vigour and more forward-looking ideas. The PDP has won on the strength of its many enticing promises, including ones to boost the ailing economy and to give more administrative and financial powers to local governments. We hope that the party will, however, address the country’s immediate concerns. For the people, there are a lot of developmental promises to look forward to.
To win over voters, the two parties engaged in heated debates that bordered on sensationalisation and personalisation of national issues. As the party leaders and candidates debated issues, party supporters, many of them not used to hard-nosed politics, were naturally drawn into the fray. Peacefully coexisting villagers suddenly found themselves looking at one another as supporters of different parties that exchanged a volley of criticisms and allegations. Relations may have been affected in the process. It’s now time to mend relations and come together as a people who believe in different ideologies but the same national goals.
And the same goes to the parties. The election results must be a sobering experience for both. They have both said that it’s important for the people, rather than parties, to win. The people have won. Fortunately this time, we have bigger opposition. We hope that this will lead to more accountable and responsive government, not petty squabbles. The two parties should look beyond their political differences and serve the people as two democratic public institutions.
It’s time for us to move on. Given the huge number of promises the parties have made, it’s important to get down to work immediately. This will require them to keep the election-related issues and unfounded allegations behind.
Experience tells us that some MPs will rarely visit their constituencies to deliver their promises after winning elections. We hope that the new crop of MPs will put their words into action. The people, in the meantime, have an important role to keep the MPs on their toes. Their democratic duty doesn’t end after voting. They can make the change they have been promised a reality.