The Election Commission of Bhutan is pleased to inform the people of Bhutan that the Polls for the General Elections to the National Assembly 2013 in the 47 Demkhongs of the Twenty Dzongkhags were successfully conducted yesterday, the 13th of July 2013.
The Election Commission has the honour to present to the People of Bhutan that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), having secured a majority of Seats with 32 winning Candidates in the National Assembly, is elected as the Ruling Party and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), having won 15 National Assembly Seats, is elected as the Opposition Party by the People of Bhutan.
We applaud the 252,485 voters, 66.1 % of the total Registered Voters in the country, who turned out and cast their votes for the Candidate of their choice, no matter the odds or difficulties.
The State support for election campaigns in terms of cash as well as sponsorship of campaign materials, airtime and print advertisement in the newspaper of choice, as provided under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Electoral Laws, ensured that the electorate had access to information on the respective Party’s Ideologies and Campaign Manifestoes. Apart from the meetings called by individual Parties and Candidates in the Dzongkhags, a total of 232 Common Forums were organized in 38 Demkhongs while the Candidates cancelled the Forum in 9 Demkhongs. Further, the Public Debates between the Candidates of the two Political Parties in the respective Demkhongs were broadcast live by BBS TV for the benefit of the general public.
The participating Parties and Candidates campaigned keenly and spiritedly to inform, communicate and convince voters. While sometimes the content, tone and manner of the campaigns and public statements made by the Parties and Candidates may have caused concern, discomfort and even grief to members of the general public, these are but inevitable in our journey on the path of Democracy even as we learn from experience not only what is legally correct but also what is important and relevant to the electorate, within the bounds of acceptance of our society and in sync with our social norms which are themselves dynamic and subject to change over time!
It is indeed, on the brighter side, a very good indication of the genuine involvement of the electorate and the seriousness and concern with which the People of Bhutan has taken the Electoral Process to heart.
At the Polls yesterday, a total of 52,914 eligible Postal Voters out of 80,134 registered Postal Voters had applied for Postal Ballots out of which 47,934 Postal Ballots had been issued by the Returning Officers. The 4,019 could not be issued as the applicants were not registered voters in the Postal Voters’ Lists of the respective Demkhongs and 961 applicants did not have vital information such as addresses or VPIC numbers.
Of the Total Votes cast, 82.5% were cast on the EVMs and 17.5% through Postal Ballots. Concerted efforts were made in every Dzongkhag to educate and support the Postal Voters through practical Postal Ballot Clinics; instructional communications disseminated through the mass media at critical stages; provision in the postal ballot applications for the applicants to give their telephone numbers where the Returning Officers could contact and get them to rectify the mistakes to validate the applications; the appointment of an additional ARO in Head Office, as well as revisiting the procedures to cut down delivery time in-country and ex-country.
As the timely adjudication of disputes and addressing of the complaints and allegations as per the laws and the transparency of that process is vital for free and fair elections as well as for public trust in the integrity of the election system, all the thirty seven cases registered with the Election Dispute Settlement System which comprises the Dzongkhag Election Dispute Settlement Body (DEDSB) in the 20 Dzongkhags, the Central Election Dispute Settlement Body (CEDSB) in the Election Commission Head Office and the full Election Commission were resolved, except for one media related case before the Poll Day and the general public have been duly intimated on the cases and the decisions. The few complaints received during the 48 hour period before Polls have also been duly resolved and closed without any serious actions necessary to be taken as these were found to be minor in nature or baseless allegations.
The process on the Poll Day itself was smooth. Apart from a single case of lost VPIC in Jomotshangkha and a voter not in the national formal attire, who were facilitated to cast their vote, and a complaint on ferrying of voters, there were no major problems or issues needing to be resolved or addressed. Even the weather turned out to be conducive with clear skies in most places on this most auspicious day.
The Polls of the General Elections was witnessed by His Excellency Shri V.S. Sampath, Chief Election Commissioner of India and his Delegation upon the invitation of the Election Commission of Bhutan. Further, the European Union, Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation, SDC and the United Kingdom fielded two-member Observation Teams each.
In terms of media, 19 international media personnel from India, Netherlands, South Korea and Nepal were in the country to cover the General Elections besides other media agencies from abroad taking interviews on the Elections over the telephone. A total of 276 media personnel from the domestic Media Houses and Agencies were issued Media Permit Card to cover the Second Parliamentary Elections 2013.
The success of the General Elections has to be attributed to all the voters who turned out to vote, many travelling for days to do so; the Parties and Candidates who worked hard and participated whole-heartedly and their representatives who generally conducted themselves responsibly to offer a meaningful choice to the electorate; and the entire team of dedicated and fearless election officials, security personnel and polling officers who worked professionally and tirelessly with commitment and enthusiasm in the 47 Demkhongs, 20 Dzongkhags and ECB Head Office. The Election Commission would also like to acknowledge the spouses and families of these officials for their ungrudging moral support and their contribution to this National Event.
Further, we would like to acknowledge the support of the Interim Government, Ministries, Departments, Dzongkhag and Gewog Administrations, Media and other Agencies including the transport, telecom, postal, Banking and Power service providers for their support in the conduct of the elections. A special mention must be made of the prolific social media users who responded and abided by the 48 hour no-campaign period as provided by the Laws.
Above all, we would like to offer our deepest gratitude to His Majesty The King, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, our source of inspiration and motivation; His Holiness the Je Khenpo and the Monastic Community for their prayers and blessings; and the Commitment of the People of Bhutan for the successful conduct of the Second Parliamentary Elections 2013: National Assembly.
Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan