Sunday, May 19, 2013

ECB Rule on Party Candidate Substitution - Post Primary Round

A notification from the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) issued on the 17th of May, 2013 attempts to clarify the rules concerning substitution of candidates by political parties - post Primary Round. For those of us for whom the issue of swapping candidates by political parties has become a matter of great concern, this is welcome news.

Having noticed the glaring synonymy in the line of arguments being pursued by candidates of some select parties during the common forum discussions that are currently under way around the country, it is now beyond doubt that certain political parties have, as rumoured, forged secret alliances - the sole purpose being to defeat a targeted rival party. This is a case of political parties sacrificing the interest of the country and the people of Bhutan - at the altar of their greed and ambition - to win at all costs. This is the brand of politicking we do not need and, thus, every Bhutanese is duty bound to combat such dishonorable behavior by political parties!

The ECB has now clarified that a candidate can be substituted only under following circumstances:

(a).  if a candidate dies;
(b).  if a candidate is unable to contest due to physical incapacitation;
(c).  if the candidature of a candidate is not accepted by the Returning Officers;
(d).  if the candidature of a candidate is cancelled on grounds of violation of the Laws

        during the course of election campaigning; and finally;

There is some ambiguity about the last rule that deals with a political party wishing to substitute a candidate from another political party:

(e).  if a political party, under Section 209 (c) of the Election Act, decides to

        register and nominate a candidate from another party that did not
        make it for the General Election with registration in
        original Party being forfeited.

The last item at (e) above leaves a bitter aftertaste - after all the sweetness. This particular clause veridates horse dealing - which vilifies clean and honorable politics.

The Section 209 (c) of the Election Act needs to be amended - to disallow cross-party candidate swapping. Also, the term “forfeited” is confusing. What if the original party has not accepted the forfeiture of the nominated candidate’s membership - for whatever reason? Is the ECB going to impose forceful forfeiture on the party of the candidate wishing to migrate to another party?

Attached below is the most CURRENT list of Candidates registered with the ECB by the four political parties qualified to contest in the Primary Rounds:


  1. In addition, I was a little surprised when the CEC, ECB mentioned in BBS earlier that if a candidate has mass support from people even if his party is not in the top two, he may be considered as replacement in the general interest of democracy. This got me confused. In the primary round voting is based on party so how will CEC and ECB determine whether people have voted for the candidate or the party? How will ECB ascertain that the candidate has mass support. These are irresponsible and dangerous statement to make.

  2. As Dasho Yeshey says, the ECB must not allow horse trading in any form or at any cost, it just goes against the spirit of democracy and far from it being conducive to good democracy, allowing it will create confusion, mistrust and anger among the parties.

    And as the above poster says, in the primary round, one is supposed to be voting for a party and not an individual candidate.

  3. Yeshey Sir,

    But frankly, did you expect anything better from the RCSC, many of the governments criticisms stem from the fact that our civil servants are mostly opportunists and actually don't really care for anything except themselves. With such an attitude, it is bound to affect good governance and who gets the blame the ruling party in power at that time.

    And in all the social media sites, most or all the people cribbing will be civil servants.