Direct Democracy

Taken from the Direct Democracy Database of International IDEA

The Royal Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan had not issued legal provisions for mandatory referendums, citizens’ initiatives, agenda initiatives or recall at national level, as well as direct democracy at regional level and the local level.

Provisions for optional referendums at national level is, however, mentioned in the Constitution of Bhutan. Article 34 (2) provides that a national referendum may be commanded by the King if “in his opinion, a bill is not passed in a joint seating of parliament, is of national importance; or if an appeal is made by not less than fifty of total number of members of all Dzongkhag Tshogdues (District Council).”

Any issue of national importance may be raised at optional referendums except for those that have been excluded as provided by the National Referendum Act of Bhutan, namely taxes and public expenditures, such as declaration of a state of war and amnesties or pardons.

The King or the Legislative Majority may initiate the optional referendum at national level. It may be passed if endorsed by a simple majority vote from the total valid votes cast in all Dzongkhags (District). The national referendum shall be binding on all organs of government, public and private entities.

The Electoral Commission of Bhutan shall be the body that administers the direct democracy mechanism at the national level.

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