It has been a busy year for the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB). Once the election date is announced following a Royal Kasho from His Majesty The King, election activities will gather pace. On the Commission’s part, laying things in order, as daunting as it can get considering the kind of preparation a national event of this scale demands, has been nothing short of meticulous and deserves our praise.
Soon the political parties will go all out. And as they hit the ground running, the whole business could turn into squalid affair with parties and candidates going at each other’s throats. Well-kept secrets will be brought to light and treated with fine-tooth comb to lay the opponents wide open to criticisms and ridicule – all for a little edge over the other – all for the precious votes.
As unfortunate as such things are uncalled for, relentless jeering, snubbing and buck-passing are bound to kick in. It is part of politics in a democracy, some might argue, but we can certainly give the whole process some respect and dignity it deserves. Just because democracies elsewhere let it ride ought not to necessarily mean we must ape them warts and all. We could choose to be different. We could be a little more civilised and decent.
So, as events unfold in the run up to the poll day, as voters and as politicians out on the campaign trail, we might do well to remind ourselves of a few things. Elections are about national issues. As much as they are about our present, they are about our future. They are about our long-term objectives as much and as they are about our immediate needs. They are about farms and our farmers as much as they are about schools and our students, health and hospitals, and much more.
It is incumbent therefore on the political parties and politicians to give the voters a comprehensive view of their goals and strategies to achieve them. So far, this has not come to the electorate besides small promissory notes.
Going by ECB’s projection, more Bhutanese are likely to vote this time round. Already 97,000 voters have registered to vote. What this indicates is that the voters are now taking the responsibility of shaping the future and the outlook of this nation unto their hands. And they will use their franchise – the one vote – meaningfully. The days when politicians could fool the voters with their vain promises are long gone – are going.