On Tuesday, the Kingdom of Bhutan - a tiny country tucked away in the eastern Himalayas - went to the polls, marking the country’s steady progression from an absolute monarchy to a parliamentary democracy. By SHOWKAT SHAFI.
Bhutan, a landlocked state in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas, is one of the world’s youngest democracies. Bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by the India, the country made the transition from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy through a parliamentary election in 2008.
On Tuesday, 380,099 registered voters returned to the polls to elect members of the National Council, the upper house of Parliament. The elections for the National Assembly, the lower house, are expected to take place in June.
As with any fledgling democracy, turnout is being touted as a gauge of how well the Bhutanese people have received their first taste of democracy.
While the elections in 2008 saw a face-off between two parties, with Druk Phuensum Tshogpa Party (DPT) winning by a huge margin over the People’s Democratic Party, this year, five parties will be contesting the elections (including the abovementioned two). The three new parties are Druk Chirwang Tshogpa, Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party, and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa.
Photo: Known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, Bhutan takes pride in retaining its traditional Buddhist culture.
Photo: Bhutan made a transition from absolute monarchy to democracy five years ago.
Photo: Shops and businesses remained closed on the National Council poll day, 23 April, 2013.