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DEMOCRACY UP-CLOSE: A documentary Study of Bhutan’s First Local Government Elections

Excellency Mr. Freddy Svane,
Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Denmark to the Kingdom of Bhutan,
Mr. Henrik A. Nielsen, the outgoing Liaison Officer,
Hon’ble Election Commissioners,
Tek Bhadur Chhetri, new Liaison Officer, LOD,
Pema Wangdi, LOD,
Leki Dorji, the Author,
Members of the Bhutanese media,
Distinguished Guests,
Colleagues from the Election Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am happy to be sharing this pleasant moment today with His Excellency Freddy Svane and all of you today – the launching of the book “DEMOCRACY UP-CLOSE: A documentary Study of Bhutan’s First Local Government Elections.” This book is a sequel to the earlier book “Drukyul Decides in the minds of Bhutan’s first voters co-authored by Gyambo Sithey and Dr. Tandi Dorji.
2. “DEMOCRACY UP-CLOSE is a comprehensive and authoritative account of the first ever local government election as DRUKYUL DECIDES is a very comprehensive documentation of the story of Bhutan’s first democratic Parliamentary Elections.
3. These books together help Bhutan record and present the full account of the one cycle of elections under democratic governance of Bhutan. These books are also a testimony of the performance of the first Election Commission of Bhutan and all those who dedicated and made sacrifices to contribute to the attainment of His Majesty the Fourth King’s vision for a greater and Democratic Bhutan taking its first root. We hope these to serve also as useful basis to the future Bhutanese in making assessment and judgment as to whether the cost and effort put in the first-ever elections were worthy.

4. The book on Local Government therefore is a welcome addition to the institutional memory of the Bhutan’s journey in conducting elections and promotion of electoral democracy in Bhutan with Danish assistance making these a possibility. This Danish contribution in elections and recording of the historic moments adds additional dimension to the existing excellent Denmark Bhutan Friendship and Cooperation.
5. We are doubly honoured by launching the Book, firstly, here at the Election Commission of Bhutan and secondly in attendance is none other than His Excellency, our Danish Ambassador.
Your Excellency,
6. These LG Elections had to be conducted after so much of waiting, anticipation and wrangling against the backdrop of a longstanding debate on constitutionality and without certain conditions for the conduct of elections being fully met. Yet, the local government elections a very tricky affair to deal with has given us many useful lessons to be learnt.
7. Though now we can take comfort in that more than 95% of the local governments are fully functioning and institutionalized, there are still a few vacancies remaining. And a comprehensive delimitation of the Local Governments can only become a reality when and only whenever and whichever the Government and the Parliament in power will synchronize the Local Government Act 2009 with the provisions of the Constitution.
8. The first-ever local government elections under the Constitution of Bhutan; and the second after the parliamentary elections in 2008 thus complete Bhutan’s transition of governance to Democratic Constitutional Monarchy.
Your Excellency,

We can say with pride and confidence that all the institutional framework envisaged by the Constitution in all Dzongkhags, Gewogs and Thromdes are in place.
10. Today on this happy occasion, I would like to put on record our appreciation to Gyembo Sithey and Dr. Tandin Dorji the authors of Drukyul Decides for their writing the book. Most of all, I would like to offer our heartiest congratulation to Mr Leki Dorji, a friend but now an author for the hard work put in to write “DEMOCRACY UP-CLOSE, A documentary Study of Bhutan’s First Local Government Elections”. I do not think that writing a book is an easy job, and a good book more so. I wish him many successes in authoring more writings.
11. Contribution of authors of the both Books is made possible by the generous financial and moral assistance of Denmark. Your help could contribute in recording of the realization of the grand vision of Our Monarchs. I am sure posterity will appreciate dearly. Without these help the ECB would have lost all these valuable accounts of our hard work and the invaluable account of mega and transformational national event forever. Thank you authors and thank you Denmark.
Your Excellency, Ladies And Gentlemen,
12. Let us today put on record our heartfelt gratefulness to all the successive Liaison Officers. In particular, it will be amiss of me not to thank Mr. Henrik Nielsen who took keen personal interest in the works of the Election Commission of Bhutan. My initiation to two Danish Parliamentary Elections, he and his team personally observing all Bhutanese elections and to document the Bhutanese experience in the form the two books is a tribute of his Love for Bhutan, Bhutanese and the Democracy. His unstinted support to the works on the Election Commission is noteworthy to be standard for future Danish support. I am sure he will continue to be in touch with Bhutan.
13. The ECB looks forward to the continued support from the succeeding Liaison Officers. We are, hopeful, under the national head of LOD, ECB can continue to receive no lesser cooperation and support as we offer our congratulation to him for taking over the important duty of representation in Thimphu and wish him success.

The ECB takes this opportunity today through His Excellency the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark to Bhutan convey or big to thank you the Government and people of Denmark for supporting the Government and people of Bhutan in the democratization process and particularly for the support to the ECB.
15. The ECB is now preparing for another epic challenge of conducting the second Parliamentary Elections in 2013. We could do with all support we can receive to see through the Second Parliamentary Elections with great confidence.
16. As I conclude, once again I would like to thank Your Excellency and the LOD to considering launching the book here at our humble office. You all have done it the honour. Lastly, may I, on behalf of everyone here today wish Your Excellency and the entourage a happy and successful visit and safe return to Delhi.
Thank You

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