Political parties, according to Article 15 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, shall safeguard the national interests over all other interests and provide choices based on the values and aspirations of the people for responsible and good governance. Moreover, it shall promote national unity and economic development for the well-being of the nation.
A political party must be registered by the Election Commission, by satisfying qualifications and requirements provided by the Constitution. Currently, five political parties are registered and recognized by the Election Commission.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP)—the first political party registered in Bhutan, in March 2007. It is the governing political party, holding 32 seats in the National Assembly. It is regarded as progressive and pro-business.
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT)—created in 2007 and won a landslide victory in March 2008, in the first general elections held in the country. During the 2013 elections, DPT won the first round, however is was defeated by PDP in the second round, which obtained them only 15 seats in the National Assembly. It is considered as conservative and royalist.
Druk Nyamrup Tshoga (DNT)—among the three newest parties in Bhutan. It earned the third place in the first round of elections, which prohibited it from participating in the general elections. It is also regarded as a ‘people-centric political party’ which promotes social democracy.
Druk Chirwang Tshogpa(DCT)—among its objectives is to ‘minimize inequalities of income, concentration of wealth, and promote equitable distribution of public facilities among individuals and people living in different regions of the country.’
Bhutan Kuen-Nyan Party (BKP)—disqualified from participating in the first round of the elections, due to a controversial ruling by the Elections Commission. The strict rules regarding eligibility, particularly the requirement of holding a degree, caused the party candidates from two constituencies, which is regarded as a common problem among political groups. Promotion of an egalitarian society without class distinctions, the eradication of poverty and fostering of stronger ties with India are included in its objectives.
Other political parties exist but are either in exile or are banned from participating in the electoral process. Some of these represent the Nepalese ethnic minority but its rights were denied because it violates the restricted concept of citizenship; many have already been expelled from the country. Furthermore, the Constitution strictly prohibits the establishment of parties based on religion, ethnicity or region.
Elections are held through contests among political parties, racing to earn the two highest number of voters, in order to allow them to proceed in the general elections where they compete for seats in the National Assembly.
Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008
D’Ambrogio, E. (2014, November 27). Bhutan At A Glance. Retrieved from European Parliament Research Service Blog: http://epthinktank.eu/2014/11/27/bhutan-and-its-political-parties/