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Will "horse-trading" occur in this election?

Picture courtesy: BBS
The nation went to the poll on April 23, 2013 and successfully managed to elect our representatives to the National Council at one go. And unlike in the past elections we have not heard of any accusations being thrown at elected leaders. This is a good sign of a clean process. It bodes well for the country. 

And the other day (April 28, 2013) our beloved His Majesty in accordance with the Constitution issued a Royal Kasho (Decree) declaring the dates for the National Assembly election. Bhutan will have its first ever primary round of elections on May 31 while the general election will be conducted on July 13, 2013. Well, many Bhutanese especially farmers are aware of the general election, but the primary will be a new experience. In 2008 we just had two parties and there was no need to conduct the primary round, which elects two parties to contest in the general round. This year we have five political parties!

Five parties need 47 candidates (wow, that is like 235 candidates in total) to be eligible to take part in the primary round of the election according to the Election Commission of Bhutan. It is a mad race out there - parties hunting for candidates and people resigning from their jobs. 

When a candidate joins a particular party (leaving behind his/her job) it is (I am sure) with conviction that he/she has something to offer to the nation and the constituency that he/she hails from. And I am sure many candidates do not see politics as another career option. After the primary round about 141 aspiring politicians (candidates from three political parties) would require to drop from the race. Only 94 candidates can compete in the general election. 

Recently I was going through an article in one of the papers and came across the topic of "horse trading". This is a situation where candidates, whose parties lose in the primary round, join the winning two parties and get a ticket to contest in the general round. While some politicians say that there is no law against political horse trading, I think it has no place in Bhutanese politics. Although there maybe no specific laws against such practices ECB made it clear that the political parties need to declare 47 candidates before the primary round. And that should take care of it in the first place. But if parties still go ahead with horse trading - then it reflects well on their own candidates. This shows that parties are not confident of their people. It also shows the level of candidates' commitment to the political cause. It is clear then that candidates who hop from one party to another overnight do not really care about their party ideologies. It will also be evidently clear then that these candidates are only aiming for power. Our (much wiser this time around) electorate will be cautious of such candidates whose motive it is to gain power and pelf for himself/herself.  

If some candidates are used merely to win the primary election is it fair for these candidates who leave everything behind to join the parties? And I think these candidates should sue their parties for duping them thus. But again that would be the last thing we would expect in a harmonious society. 

But I think we will have a great election ahead. This confidence springs from our recent National Council elections. Our voters are much more educated in the process than they appear to be. They understand who deserves their votes. And they will choose only the BEST. May the best win!  

Comments

  1. But sir, if horse-trading is done, will it not garner an able pool of candidates? and ultimately a stronger ruling and opposition, Just my opinion though!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Exactly what I have been arguing with my peers. I even put up this concern to one of our MPs and he could not convince me either.
    I also feel "horse trading" should not happen (if not, at least on moral & ethical ground by the respective parties). How can they (parties) make such a 'joker' out of the officially declared candidates?

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a well justified point. Let me defend mine. To avoid clash of ideologies, coalition of party is not allowed at first place.

    Horse trading is based on mutual agreement. If the candidate who made through primary round is not willing to sacrifice his ticket for the one who lost in primary round, then there is no way for a latter to horse trade.

    Horse trading becomes inevitable based on people's choice. Yes, it is for winning. But it is also for democratic representation, credibility and people's choice.

    For instance, a candidate from a particular constituency is sure to win, and people wants him/her to represent them. Lets assume that he/she is good, experienced, capable, farsighted, dedicated and innovative candidate. But, his/her party lost in the primary round by a small fraction due to huge proportion of voters in maximum voter Dzongkhag like Samtse and Tashigang who supported other party, though people from his/her constituency voted for him/her(party).

    In this case, where is people's choice gone? What about their choice? How would a new candidate represent them which they do not want?
    So, like it or not, people have to vote for two candidates which they do not want both of them. So, in this light, 'horse trading' is a way for Alternative Representation. What is wrong in changing ideologies, when people want them to represent their constituency. And democracy is all about people's choice and majority. If this is not the case, then they won't be invited for horse trading at first place, and if they are not genuine and capable, people won't vote for them.

    At the end, whatever means it may be, it is people's choice which is deemed democratic and right. And 'horse trading' will also depend on people's choice. So, there is no need to be afraid of this. DPT also shared similar view, and it seemed they are afraid of losing, and it also clearly shows that they are aiming for power.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks gentlemen for your feedback and comments. For now we can just wait and see what happens.

    ReplyDelete
  5. One thing definite is that 2013 will be more competitive and interesting than 2008. It is clear that Democracy stands for majority and horse trading could be possible, but the method adopted in the prelim directly denies this possibility, given that all the 47 candidates should be declared. However voting for a party and voting for a candidate gives different feel. you may like a candidate but not his party and vice versa! And this feeling still remains alive deep down in our subconscious mind. At this juncture, we prefer good party to a capable candidate.

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