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Friday, 20 April 2012

भूटान से ........Switch parties, stay in race

Switch parties, stay in race

Your party might get knocked out during the primary round of the National Assembly election, but that doesn’t mean your chances end there.

You can hop to a party that makes it to the general round and contest.

“You’re allowed to do so, provided there’s a formal consent produced from both the political parties concerned,” chief election commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, in an email interview, said.

The rule is highlighted in section 209 of the election Act.

It states that a person, who is a member of a registered political party, which could not qualify for the general election, can be admitted as a member, and nominated by a political party to contest as a candidate in the general round.

The person should, however, surrender his membership with the original political party.

But that does not mean political parties need not have all 47 candidates in place to contest the primary round, where all registered parties will contest.

“A political party in Bhutan is advised to have among its registered members an acceptable number of members, who are potential candidates, for National Assembly elections, ” Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said. “A number not less than the number of constituencies.”

The Act required a political party, while submitting the “letter of intent”, to include a tentative list of candidates that it may field in the general election.

“It’s also in the interest of the party that, during the election campaign for the primary round for a particular constituency itself, the electorates can identify their likely representative in Parliament,” he said.

Meanwhile, “acceptable number”, one official explained, also meant, not just in terms of figures but having “capable” candidates with an ability to handle responsibilities after winning a seat in Parliament.

The commission takes about a month, scrutinising in detail, the party charter, cross-checking the background of each candidate listed and ensuring the party is realistic, among others.

Chief election commissioner said the special provision ensures better choice for the electorate, in case the popular candidate of a specific constituency is in a party that doesn’t receive the highest or second highest number of votes nationwide.

“It’s important to note that elections aren’t intended to help political parties have candidates,” he said. “Rather, it’ll recognise political parties that have potential to field most qualified number of candidates to contest assembly elections.”

He said, if a party doesn’t have an adequate number of potential candidates as registered members, it may have difficulty in proving that it is going to be able to offer choice of any utility in serving the Bhutanese democracy.

Members of the political parties in the making agree.

“Although primary round is about getting the party elected, people voting against the logo of the parties, it is mainly the candidates and the leadership the votes will be based on,” a member of one of the upcoming parties said.

The member, who did not want himself or his party to be named, said the candidates were the only way for electorates to connect to the party.

“That is why, despite all difficulties, we’re on a look out for good candidates,” he said.

A representative from another new party said a party without a complete set of candidates could signal its weakness, subsequently narrowing the chance for that party to go to the general round.

“But a candidate joining a new party for general round also means he’ll have to believe and adapt to new set of ideologies and principles,” he said. “It will take that candidate a lot more to convince his voters and win their support.”