China and Neighbourhood

Bhutan Cements Its Democracy

0
BY DR. PAUL RICHARDSON** | 13.09.2011

bhutanAt the end of June the picturesque Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan held its first ever local elections. Over recent years this tiny country of around 700,000 has been undergoing a remarkable political transition and these were only the third nation-wide polls since Bhutan’s revered Fourth King, Jigme Sengay Wanchuk, decreed in 2006 that Bhutan was to become a democratic state. Somewhat ironically, the majority of Bhutan’s citizens were at first against the transition from absolute monarchy to democracy, yet, they have proved to be quick to adapt to the new reality.

Prior to the elections on 27th June, candidates came to village meeting places across their district in order to present their policies and field questions from local residents. With only a 60% literacy rate, these meetings are vital to the democratic process. On the day itself voters could not cast their ballot without wearing the national dress and every shop, restaurant, bar and business were ordered shut down for the day. The all powerful electoral commission also insisted that until voting had finished at 5pm it would be a dry day.

During the campaigning, the biggest difference to emerge between candidates seemed to be not policy but education versus experience. Many former representatives were up for re-election and were challenged by ex-monks or younger, well-educated candidates. As the election results unfolded, both new and old candidates had gained majorities and this split reflects the changes taking place across Bhutanese society: the challenge of bringing Bhutan into the modern world through economic development while at the same time preserving cultural traditions.

To overcome this tension the idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has become somewhat of a national ideology. GNH has been promoted by the Fourth King since the 1970s as an alternative to GNP and is a kind of fusion of sustainable development, environmental protection and egalitarianism. Whether experienced or inexperienced, virtually all candidates sought to emphasise their loyalty to the GNH concept.

Arrow


* Published in Political Reflection Magazine (PR) Vol. 2 | No. 3

** Dr. Paul Richardson is currently on a Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Post-Doctoral Fellowship, at the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University.

© Copyright 2011 by CESRAN

About the author / 

Admin

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

jga bookreview


jga bookreview


cesran_unai


jga bookreview


jga bookreview


jga bookreview


jga bookreview


jga bookreview


jga bookreview


jga bookreview

CESRAN Blog

  • New Issue is Out Now!

    Vol. IV | No. V – October-November-December 2018 To Download the Magazine Click Here… CONTENTS 04-06…..World News by Furkan Sahin  08-20…..Terrorism in Syria and Beyond: An Interview with Prof. Alain Gabon by Dr. Rahman Dag 22-24…..Erdogan’s Best Shot is Still in the West by Dr. Murat Ulgul 26-30…..Raqqa vs Kobani – Terrorism vs Revolution by Dr. Rahman Dag 32-34…..Future of…

  • Domestic Politics and the Design of International Institutions

    Abstract Scholars are increasing focused on how and why states design international institutions. International relations theories have historically guided research on these institutions, but have not provided adequate insights into the theoretical bases for their design. Rationalists’ theories of domestic politics offer an alternative approach to understanding institutional design. This study utilizes the positive theory…

  • Five generations after the Balfour Declaration: How do Palestinians Resist and Engender Significant Social Change?

    How to Cite: SELLICK, P. (2018), Five generations after the Balfour Declaration: How do Palestinians Resist and Engender Significant Social Change?. Journal of Conlicft Transformation and Security, 6(2): 139–142. The context of Israeli expansion and Palestinian dispossession Over the past year, a series of anniversaries has occurred which marks the progressive dispossession and displacement of the Palestinians….

  • CESRAN International named the World’s #83 “Best Independent Think Tank”

    CESRAN International is pleased to announce that it has been named the world’s number 83 “Best Independent Think Tank”. The ranking was announced in the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report compiled by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the Lauder Institute. CESRAN International was also ranked 77th among the “Top Environment…

  • The Current State of AI as We Begin 2018

    Artificial intelligence (AI) states one recent article is no smarter than a six-year-old. A study that appeared last summer compared the intelligence quotient (IQ) of Google, Apple, Baidu, and Bing AI to the average human 18, 12, and 6-year-olds. The 6-year-old’s IQ was rated at 55.5 while the 12 and 18-year-olds rated 84.5 and 97.0 respectively. The end result rated…