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Reflecting on a decade of democracy

 

It has been another historic milestone for Bhutan last week as the second National Assembly dissolved on Wednesday, thus marking the successful completion of a decade of democracy.

In the days to come ahead an interim government would be formed accordingly as per the constitution that stipulates that such a governing body must be formed within 15 days from the dissolution of the National Assembly.

And with the election year underway, our voters, especially those in isolated and rural hamlets, would soon encounter many different faces flocking to their villages, advocating on democracy, their pledges and promises if they win the elections, and asking voters to vote for them. In fact such things have already started happening going by how presidents and candidates of some political parties are touring the nation, familiarizing themselves and their parties despite the rugged terrains, scorching sun or heavy rain.

Routine farmers being greeted with new faces, while toiling in their field or at home, are increasingly going to be a common sight in the upcoming days with the 2018 elections just over three months away. Similarly, routine farmers attending gatherings and meetings despite their busy work are increasingly going to be a common sight.

Whenever an election approaches, a sense of urgency to woo or cajole the rural electorates is ostensible among the different political parties and candidates. They too feel that the rural electorates must be wooed, sweet-talked and engaged. They feel that it’s important if they are to win the elections.

It’s, therefore, good that the rural electorates are engaged. A good democracy is built upon aspects such as engagement and participation. But why such urgency to engage the rural electorates only after every five years? A similar concern has also been echoed by a political party leader where people feel that their right comes after every five years and that they are important after every five years.

So where does the emphasis before the elections that each and every Bhutanese is important and that every Bhutanese must be brought to the forefront disappear when the elections are over?

Whenever we talk about democracy, we reiterate the power vested on the people. We talk about how people can make and break government. We talk about how citizens have the power to choose which institutions or laws should govern them. But are we building a strong democratic culture with this perception that people’s role come after only five years and finish once the elections are over?

We must understand that while democracy gives the right to people to elect government to govern them, it gives them the right to hold them accountable too. People, therefore, have an important role than just going to the polls after every five years.