The just concluded bye-elections in Monggar and Nganglam constituencies have thrown up a few surprises and challenges for the future.
It was a big surprise as the result was a huge anomaly to the supporters of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) supporters who were once again caught off guard after the Chhokhor-Tang bye-election drama.
However, it was joyous moment for the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) to celebrate their victory even breaking the history by breaking into DPT-hardened constituencies which are now beginning to fall one by one.
Winning the seat from Nganglam constituency in Pemagatshel dzongkahg is a history of since the advent of democracy in Bhutan.
Usually, all eastern constituencies, especially Pemagatshel dzongkhag, are traditionally considered as strongholds of DPT as the party made a remarkable sweep in the first two, and even in the 2018, elections.
However, during the bye-election in Monggar and Nganglam constituencies and in Choekhor-Tang, the power of being the ruling party brought advantage.
The bye-election speaks of ruling power approach. To fulfill all the pledges already in the plan and beyond can only made by the governing party was the campaign mantra. The refuting messages by the Opposition President and candidates could not negate the mindset of voters convinced by the ruling President and candidates.
All of these were factors, brought this huge swing against the hope of Opposition that won an overwhelming majority in one of its heartland seats of DPT and in Monggar too.
The bye-election results are further evidence of the long-term realignment in Bhutanese politics. Just as Opposition has been losing support among alienated segments, voters must be leaving its heartland seats to reap the advantage of governing party.
This has become more noticeable in just concluded bye-election when many voters who supported DNT because DPT they could not countenance the hope and expectation of voters.
While both parties tried to capitalized on reaping more advantages from the governing party and being strong opposition, in both the constituencies Opposition could not make headway on “leveling-up” agenda. The tactics to distract from the rank incompetence government didn’t bear the fruit.
Given the hectic campaign run by the contesting political contestants/parties, few could have predicted just how abysmally low the voter turnout would be, yet many turned up.
Then the election officials for some inexplicable reason took a long time counting the ballots despite the little low turnout.
The vote margin in Monggar was 2114 while in Nganglam it was just 666. Many voters of Monggar must go for senority and popularity besides judgment of being in power. DNT’s candidate was popular and experienced candidate being former MP. No sympathetic vote was there for DPT or vote of grievances for Karma Lhamo as was considered as politically unfaithful and ambitious.
However, there seems sympathetic vote for DNT’s candidate in Nganglam for him to win for two consecutive elections besides same expectation of advantage from the ruling party and make the candidate minister.
Though it victory for DNT it would also be a challenge to fulfill the pledges given the limited time at their disposal. Nonetheless, it is still an achievable task.