In its third election ever, Bhutan elects a third party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) party to form government

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) party has won the general election in Bhutan, defeating incumbent opposition Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa-DPT) in the final round of general elections, where only these two parties were the participants. Ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was eliminated in the first round of voting. The final round of voting for 47 seats of the National Assembly was held in the country on Thursday, and counting began immediately after voting was over at 5 PM in the country. According to provisional results, DNT has won 30 seats, crossing the majority mark of 24, while the rest 17 seats have gone to DPT. DNT party president Dr Lotay Tshering will become the third Prime Minister of the Himalayan nation. Lotay Tshering is a doctor by profession.

Dr Lotay Tshering, DNT president and Prime Minister-elect

Ten years ago, Bhutan had transitioned from a monarchy to constitutional monarchy and democracy, the change being led by then king Jigme Singye Wangchuck. This was the third general election in democratic Bhutan, and every time a different party has won the elections, making DNT the third party to form the government in the country.

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The election to the National Assembly is held in two rounds. In the first round, every political party in the Himalayan nation can participate. At present, there are four registered political parties in the nation who participate in the primary round. After that, the two largest parties in the first round proceed to contest in the second round of polls, which determines the winner. In the first two elections, two major political parties had emerged in the country, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa-DPT).

Women waiting in line to vote display their identity cards. Photo: Bhutan Broadcasting Service

In the first-ever elections held in 2008, DPT had formed the first democratic government in the country, winning 45 of the 47 seats. Jigme Yoser Thinley became the first Prime Minister of Bhutan. The second election in 2013 saw a reversal of fortunes for the two major parties and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) formed the government, winning 32 seats. PDP leader Tshering Tobgayn became the second PM of Bhutan.

Constituencies won by the two parties. Source: Kuenselonline

The first round of the current elections to elect the third government in Bhutan was held on 16th September 2018, where all four registered parties had contested. Changing the trend of the previous two elections, this time three parties got almost the same votes. Ruling PDP came third winning 27% votes, while opposition DPT won 31% votes to grab the second position. Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) party came first with 32% of the votes in the first round. The party had won 17% votes in the first round in 2013 elections. This had meant the that ruling PDP was out of the contest for the 3rd government in the country and the second round of contest took place between DNT and DPT.

Both paper ballots and Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are used in the elections. The Election Commission of Bhutan has procured the EVMs from India.

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