DPT is 2013’s PDP

DPT PDP 2013
This story is by The Bhutanese titled:

How PDP lost in 2008 and what DPT should learn for 2013

With the 2013 race only 7 – 8 months away a series of predictions are being made of the future results, some depending on facts and some on “feelings”.

What the final results will be, nobody can truly say, though the current opinion of Bhutan’s “chattering classes” would suggest that DPT for now is in a better position than the other parties.

However, to get a truly accurate picture and any vaguely accurate prediction of the future electoral results, keeping track of the past electoral trends is extremely important, especially the 2008 general elections where PDP lost. Coincidentally in 2008 the general wisdom from the same chattering classes was that PDP would win and win quite decisively.

So why did PDP lose and that too with such a huge margin? Till date there has been no official and public analysis for various reasons, but ultimately it is in the interest of Bhutanese democracy to examine the reasons for that loss.

The analysis is all the more important now because DPT in many ways is seen to be repeating the many mistakes of PDP in 2008.

In 2008, through a combination of circumstances, public perception and highly effective rumors against PDP, three key sections of the Bhutanese population had become alienated from the party.

These constituted the farmers, the private sector and the civil servants ultimately reflected in the 45 – 2 result.

At the time some supporters of the PDP were involved in some controversial land dealings, with a key and public one being the Phobjika case. These issues along with unofficial slogans like “Pha-du-sa-bu-bu-dusa-tsao” (where the father stays the son stays, and where the son stays the grandson stays) and unofficial word of mouth campaigning and even official insinuations during the campaign period portrayed PDP as a party out to get the very land beneath all farmers feet. Stories like “farmers would have to find trees to live in” only exacerbated this fear.

The private sector was also alienated with the same unofficial message, only this time that all major businesses would go to PDP supporters or the family members of PDP members. This in many ways will explain the unusually high number of industrialists who supported DPT and still do. What did not help PDP was that a few of its industrial supporters were involved in some economic projects where they were seen to have gotten some leeway.

Finally the strongest DPT support base in the 2008 elections were the civil servants who did not need much convincing and by many accounts played a key role in convincing their rural cousins to vote for DPT. For the civil servants, one key issue was the formation of some powerful bureaucratic cliques allegedly around senior members of the PDP leadership. Though the former president was never accused of Nepotism in helping his family members, the main concern was that a few bureaucrats around him who were considered to be unpopular or unreliable were getting too powerful. It is another matter that these perceived powerful bureaucrat supporters of PDP quickly changed their colours after the 2008 results.

For the civil servants and the intelligentsia alike the PDP was seen as being highly connected to many levers of power in the state and there was concern that there would be excessive concentration of powers among a few if PDP won.

In our Buddhist culture that values humility and in a society still reeling from the effects of His Majesty the Fourth King stepping down and introducing democracy, the PDP’s early, aggressive and public campaign was a jarring strategic mistake.

In 2012 it is remarkable how DPT in terms of its public image and actions has pushed itself into the same spot as PDP in 2008.

On land there has been a series of land scam revelations involving DPT ministers and senior party members. The list so far is Gyelpozhing, Chang Ugyen case, Denchi and also other murmurs. It is ironical that the same ministers that won partly on the plank of PDP being linked to land issues were all along themselves involved in the same type of land issues.

In the private sector the ruling government has been accused of outright corruption and nepotism in favouring business houses close to the ruling ministers. The Trowa case, Education City, City Buses, Mining issues and etc. are cited by business houses. What will also not help the government is a perceived anti-private sector attitude with little and late reactions on issues like rupee shortage and liquidity crisis.

The ruling government has become especially unpopular with the civil service for what many see as cases of nepotism and injustices where a clique of civil servants close to the ruling government get an unfair share of push upstairs. If civil servants where the biggest supporters of DPT in 2008, they are now the DPT’s biggest stumbling block.

Many of the intelligentsia has realized that DPT is encouraging growing concentration of political and economic powers within a few families which was exactly what they wanted to avoid in 2008. The dictatorial style of governance does not help.

A factor which has not been analysed in 2008 is the media coverage. By international standards Bhutanese media coverage was unbiased and gave largely equal coverage and importance to both parties well within any legal norms. However, the liberal and approachable image of DPT and its media savvy President ensured a subtle media bias towards the DPT in 2008.

In 2012 the policies of the DPT government is the single biggest challenge to the growth and even survival of the media from drastically slashing advertisement budgets, attacking and scolding journalists on a regular basis, developing an increasingly thin skin, and also using its entire state and economic machinery to target critical papers.

Much has been made of the DPT building farm roads, schools and hospitals. It must be remembered that in 2008 one of the biggest reasons why people thought PDP would win was because the former PDP president in his avatars as the Agriculture, Education and Health Minister had single handedly set up numerous schools and hospitals and also built a record number of farm roads exceeding even government targets.

In Bhutan if elections are to be won just on farm roads, hospitals and schools, then Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup who exceeded all these targets as ministers in these sectors should have won with a thumping majority over Lyonchhen Jigme Y. Thinley who held comparatively less developmental oriented posts like the Foreign Minister and the Home Minister.

These and several other factors have to be factored in before declaring any outright winner or loser. The 2013 race is much more complicated, open and unpredictable especially with the primary rounds this time and growing problems with the economy. At many levels it is still too early to call sure shot winners and losers.

Which political party comes to power matters a lot in terms of policies, but at the end of the day the success of Bhutanese democracy should not be just incumbent on parties. It has to do with the participation of ordinary citizens not only at the ballot box but also after that to safeguard our collective constitutional rights and freedoms.

This story from Sintoo

Sintoo is the search bot used by Bhutanomics. Sintoo prowls the www, collecting stories of interest to Bhutan, to build a rich content repository for Bhutan analytics.


  1. Very analytic write up. Thank you and keep posting such good articles which will open the mind of our people.

  2. You forgot to mention the lottery scam.Huge revenue was lost by government when few people ochestrated the closure of Bhutan lotteries.These few should be held accountable for the government lossing billions especially when we are having the Rupee crisis.I FAILED TO UNDERSTAND WHY NO ACTION IS TAKEN!!!CONNECTIONS PERHAPS.

  3. I am a daily reader of your articles, so i found those writers are so great as i never expected. keep on writing it dosent mater wether people think negetive of positive, we have to give knowledge both on good and bad to let people compare between, but one thing never compare with outside worlds sutation and people to be our country in save side.

  4. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup was part of government who gives farm roads but then JYT was in same government…

    So it is not Sangay Ngedup’s achievement only….

  5. Democracy should not be judged by external development alone. Farm roads are required but not an indication of real development. What matter is the changes brought about in our belief and attitude towards democracy vis a vis our old tradition and culture. What have they done to promote vibrant democracy in Bhutan? Civil society? Ngo? Media is under pressure…..Institutions?
    We also need to look at our fundamentals like the sizes of our gewogs, districts, fair distribution of health and education facilities, allocation of national resources,…….Giving more resources to backward districts like Zhemgang, Dagana etc
    DPT has done something but they also blundered on many occasions….They made many silly mistakes. They have no clue of what to do with the rupee crisis. they looked selfish, unaccountable, obstructive to justice, very tricky and deceitful sometime…..intolerant, nt media friendly, this is not a good beginning to our democracy. They let a Minister draw salary for no work for many many months. Could not do anything to the powerful ones even if they are corrupt. Before election they sounded as if they will change many things…..but years on we did not see any action on many issues. What happen to case against Singye quarry in Jemmina? Dropped? They did nothing on fronting issue. No action on PCS in spite of repeated assurance form PM himself…They sent the guy responsible as an ambassador…No accountability at all. very mild action on erring officials like SP, Drangpen, Dzongda of Samtse…etc etc They have fooled people telling they are for vibrant democracy. I have not seen their action to be democratic….most of the time they are tense and scold people even for slightest excuses….many of their MPs lacks leadership qualities, they looks ordinary……
    For me DPT and DPT are no different although DPT made it to be. JYT and SN are very close relatives. Their vision is GNH. Both serve the same kings. They worked as cabinet colleagues. Of course JYT is more clever than SN! He could have his way by ganging up with many ex Ministers.
    So let us see what happens in 2013. My opinion is, a neutral, a new party should win to give a new start to our democracy…..also remind you guys there are draw backs in giving repeated power to one party…. they become corrupt, they become dictatorial and arrogant which is not good for democracy.
    These experience Ministers has grown many habits which are not necessarily democratic. It is difficult to change easily. So think about it.
    Remember also that these experience and able Ministers will not remain forever. We need to groom younger one for the role. Let us think beyond 2013. By giving opportunity only will unlock potentials, and improve peoples capacity. See the illiterate ladies in realty shows how they improve with exposure and practice. So let us give opportunity and we will have many potential PM/Ministers. Think big and beyond nose.

  6. Having interacted with so many civil servants and other citizens….I still see more chances for the DPT government to win. May be the opposition number will be doubled. TO FOUR

    • This are just views. we can never say who will win. Many things are happening and many are confused including civil servants. Many sway like reeds where wind blows. It will be the educated people, the brave few, and the courageous ones that will feature and matter more in 2013 to change the course of our democracy. the current DPT do have good foundation but they also have many self created problems like scams, rupee crisis, the anti incumbency factor, their inaction on many fronts will definitely affect their performance in 2013….even the PM is under scrutiny now in Mongar court if I understand it correctly.

  7. I didn’t have time to read this article. But when I look at the picture, both the animals are drowning.

  8. those people who blames govt will no longer be sustain in this world. will die soon because of my curse..

    • Gyelden,
      May god bless you and live longer than anyone in Bhutan. I pray for your long and prosperous life. I cannot believe we have such people in Bhutan, the land of Mahayana Buddhism!

    • GYELDEN, hahaha.. are you a cursing machine? What a frog in the pond? Grow up! First understand what governance is all about and then comment.

  9. People talk like bhutan has such a large pool of able leaders to select from. The truth is that the pool is so small. Aside from jyt there is really no one. Even with all the charges and allegations against him – jyt is still numero uno. Everyone else is a poor poor poor poor second. Do we want a lesser man/woman to take on the reins of govt? Do we really hate him so much that we are willing to take a chance and entrust our country to an untested unproven person?

  10. Heyho,
    this is the problem with our people. I think there are many capable people in Bhutan including me. They should be given the chance to prove. Do not worry, under the guidance of our wise kings, Bhutan will do well even with out these old Ministers. No worries pal! Have faith in your abilities. If we think we can, we can!

  11. Yeah, even for lowly jobs there is this whole process of elimination and selection. every one wants someone with experience and qualification. Why? And for such an important job as that of the head of govt we should give someone the chance to prove? If someone can lead, it will be very obvious and ppl will have seen and heard about him/her. As yet, there is no one on the horizon. So lets stick with the best until someone proves himself. If ppl are not satisfied with jyt then what would be the success rating for an untested person? Do we really want to risk King Country and People by trying that out. remember its for five years.

  12. Heyho,
    pl understand. I am not telling the PM in not good. He is one of the best we had so far. Many agree with you. But at the same time let us not under estimate ourselves telling there is no one to take him over. Let us not dependent on one person. Today there are many capable people in Bhutan far more qualified then even the PM. In the past we were ruled by people even without basic literacy skills like our Excellency Tamshi Jagar to mention one example. Today we have numerous people with degrees, masters and even with PhD. The problem is not many are willing to step in to politics. Reasons are many. One biggest problem is with our own mindset that we are not capable or are inferior to someone else. Or people are trying to scare innocent people with all these experience and qualifications tactics.
    Also I do not know what risk you are talking about. This is also fear tactics. DPT used it porfusely during 2008 to its advantage which is very selfish and bad example. This is why people loose faith in politics and call it dirty. They say one thing and does completely different things. This is same with the use of GNH cliche by our PM. Educated people are watching what they say and does.
    Our country is in very safe hands. Our kings will be always there to safeguard our country should something go wrong. To me better time awaits Bhutan and we should look forward with optimism instead of this or that scare or warning. Let us open up and let people get equal opportunity to govern the country. These group of Ministers have been there in the govt for so long ever since we were children. We thank them for their dedicated services to the people and the country. After 5 years we will not regret for bringing in new people. We have to look beyond 2013 and 2018. These senior Minister will not be there forever. The 4th King has set example and our 5th King is showing us what younger generation are capable of. Barak Obama is another example!
    Heyho, have self belief and you will be amazed what you are capable of. there is Buddha in every one of us…….

  13. Drub

    The people of Bhutan are not ignorant or stupid. and bhutan is so small that almost everyone knows about all the skeletons and treasures in everyone’s closet. So don’t think that the ppl will be bought by “scare tactics” . They know exactly who is who and how he/she will benefit or harm them and their interests. I.e. they know what stories/tactics to believe or not.

    And please remember that our Kings are above politics. we are talking about elected leaders and not our Kings. We are fortunate to have such great Kings – now lets try and ensure that we elect our MPs well unless ofcourse you want our Kings to come down and double as MPs..

    As for self belief – I find that many without any ability have great self belief. Look around you – I’m sure you can name quite a few who fall in that category. I also know many without any qualifications who can out think and out perform any Phd holder. So don’t depend on that kind of criteria to get you a good leader.

    I am very interested to know the names of those “many capable people in Bhutan far more qualified then even the PM” that you speak of. Please give us their names here, so we can judge for ourselves – because I honestly can’t take your word for it as I don’t know you.

  14. TheoSamGom says:

    This site is definitely run by some stupid people and a lot of ngolops must be laughing their asses at us reading about the most stinking shit that goodpath threw on the plates of us- the true Bhutanese.anyone who curses JYT and DPT will develop heart attack when JYT will be nominated for the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2013 because we will work hard for the New Economic Paradigm as the gift of this little Kingdom of ours to the world. Wai Badpath- what do you think can you do by sabotaging and hyperbolizing this trivial issues and spoiling the image of the government? Frankly – though you went to st. Stephens but JYT went long before you. He has seen much much more than you and is a suitable to be a leader for a much larger country and much more complesx economies. You are not even one tenth of what Dasho Karma Ura is and Badpath please never think of Mr. Rigden is equal to you. He is very farsighted and very smart. Who else do you seek to challange? Better get a better job, make some money and live happily. If you are not happy in Thimphu- come here in NYC, somehow – we will fix you a $ 10/hr job at a gas station for the night shift and you can share cold basement with one of us. You can also clean the toilet pot of the chilips and your GF from T.. can do be the baby sitter. .. she can work in the massage too…. we need some of that masssage after standing for so long. For keeping your hopes high you can get the powerball lottery ticket once a while and and day dream when a nado turns to you and asks for some newport for free “dude”. sometimes you can go to the chinese buffet and if you have luck— and if you are off the newyears eve- you can come along and joing the party. you can bring your T gf as it is all inclusive. If you turn out to be a good boy and survive this winter in $1200/month shared basement with some cold salads— you will have the fortune to meet the HPM next year — but there will be price for that too. So, Badpath- forget the cursing as “curses like chickens come home to rest”. if you don’t believe ask the Sherig Lynpo. WELCOME TO YOUR RESERVED BASEMENT – GIVE YOUR LIFE SOME GOOD EXPOSURE .YOU WILL SIMPLY WASTE YOUR YOUTH TRYING TO POISON THE EARS OF THE PEOPLE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH…. BHUUU.

  15. Ya, DPT must be alert and work harder. There is big chance that DPT will land up like PDT in 2013

  16. Heyho,
    Don’t you remember what did they said in 2008? Is your memory that short? No wonder that you have no self belief. Was it not scare tactics? The other party was made out to be a very bad although they too had lot of capable man and women equally dedicated if not more to serve the Nation! I cannot believe that they can stoop to that level to win! Sometime action speaks louder than words. Seen what they are capable of. So much of ley Jumdri and Tha Damtsey they teach but do not bother if it hurts? We may see the consequences later if not now! So be fair in what you say and does. Yes our people are no more ignorant and they will make decisions. that why I am telling why bluff and tell lies. We know who is telling the truth.

  17. DPT this time must go down surely for many of the arrogant attitude of our PM firstly followed by his ministers and MPs. Their attitude for self help, ruined our economy at large, destroyed private sector, Civil servants lost faith in equality that the government keep promising and finally farmers had to turn to our king’s help to sustain life in the rural. So where is the Government? PM is always outside the country or spending time how to please western countries and how to boost his personality outside the country. If he cared so much for foreigners, I think he should move out and let someone who cares for our country take his place. I know for fact he is intellectually bright and could do better for our country should he choose to. Instead he became arrogant (E.g. vehicle tax issue)and tyrant leader (E.g. demanding that the opposition leader must stand when he passes by among others. I agree there has to be a courtesy on the opposition leader part but PM should not demand respect, He should earn it). While we thought we are democratic country, how can we have dictator in a democracy? We choose PM as our leader and PM he should be and must stop behaving like dictator.
    The Bhutanese people feared PDP in 2008 election and now the fears are realized by DPT. We had so much hope that many of the ministers and MPs worked under our graceful 4th Druk gyelpo and that they would have learnt certain quality lessons from our great kings we had over the century. No Oh no, the reality was far from it. From the very first parliament, the only thing they really cared about was, what they are getting and what they wanted. They went as far as disallowing live broadcast, it says only one thing and that is they have many things to hide.
    I have voted for DPT last time and managed to convince 50 or so in our family to vote for DPT out of sheer hope for better future. This time you lost my families support including me.

  18. who ever win the next election and become the next government it doesnot matter but i want to see people have and our country safe.