Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Section

বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Former Bhutan PM wins elections overshadowed by economic strife

  • Tobgay's People's Democratic Party won nearly two-thirds of seats in parliament
  • There was no immediate confirmation from the Election Commission, which is expected to release final results on Wednesday
Update : 10 Jan 2024, 12:42 AM

Former prime minister Tshering Tobgay's party won Bhutan's election on Tuesday, media reported, after polls dominated by economic threats challenging the Himalayan kingdom's longstanding policy of prioritising "Gross National Happiness" over growth.

Foremost in the minds of many who voted are the struggles facing the Buddhist-majority nation's younger generation, with chronic youth unemployment and a brain drain.

Both parties in the election are committed to a constitutionally enshrined philosophy of a government that measures its success by the "happiness and well-being of the people."

Tobgay's People's Democratic Party (PDP) won nearly two-thirds of seats in parliament, The Bhutanese newspaper reported, with the 58-year-old environmental advocate expected to become premier for the second time.

The PDP "wins the 2024 National Assembly general elections with 30 seats" while the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) took the remaining 17, the paper said, based on preliminary results from each constituency.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Election Commission, which is expected to release final results on Wednesday, according to an official timetable published ahead of the polls.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi of neighbouring India, Bhutan's key trading partner, offered his "heartiest congratulations to my friend" Tobgay for winning the polls, he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Some voters had to trek for days to cast their ballots in the landlocked mountain nation of about 800,000 people, similar in area to Switzerland.

"Job opportunities in Bhutan are scarce and the new government should focus on solving this, so young people don't leave abroad for greener pastures," said 22-year-old student Ugyen Tshering, after voting in the chilly mountain air in the capital Thimphu, with Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the background.

Bhutan's youth unemployment rate stands at 29%, according to the World Bank, while economic growth has sputtered along at an average of 1.7% over the past five years.

During campaigning, Tobgay sounded the alarm over Bhutan's "unprecedented economic challenges and mass exodus."

His party's manifesto quoted government statistics showing that one in every eight people were "struggling to meet their basic needs for food" and other necessities.

His electoral rival, BTP leader and career civil servant Pema Chewang, 56, also warned the country was losing the "cream of the nation."

Top Brokers

About

Popular Links

x