Bhutan elections set for March

Himalayan kingdom to elect National Assembly and do away with monarchy.

    Bhutanese have generally been enthusiastic about switching on to electoral democracy [AFP]

    The electoral contest is likely to be predominantly between two parties, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (the Virtuous Bhutan Party) and the Peoples Democratic Party.
    Both parties are likely to promise better roads, schools and hospitals and more reliable electricity.
    Parties must submit their letter of intent, list of candidates, copies of their manifestos and audited financial reports to the election commission by January 22.
    Many candidates are expected to be professionals as only college graduates are eligible to run.
    Divided opinons
    Citizens have had mixed views on the country’s move towards democracy.
    Younger voters said they were looking forward to new jobs and opportunities as the country develops.
    But others said they were voting only out of a sense of duty to the monarchy.
    The monarchy, now headed by Wangchuck's Oxford graduate son, remains popular, partly because of its policies focused on boosting what it calls "gross national happiness".
    As recently as the 1960s, Bhutan had no roads and practically no schools or hospitals.
    Today education and healthcare are free, and life expectancy has risen from 50 years to 66 years.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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