Test of fire

Posted: August 28, 2010 in Opinions

Bhutan’s infant democracy is progressing in all its multifaceted aspects. It is a proud feeling that democracy is here to stay. The initial fears and doubts that much of the time clouded the beginning of the democratic experiment have ebbed away. There is now a growing sense of confidence in the new political system. So they say well begun is half done.

We have erected the best of democratic institutions and put in place a Constitution that is in itself all encompassing. Yet, we have a long way to go. It is a process that will be tested and tried and only time will tell how strong a foundation we have laid.

The system that we are building at present must withstand the consistent denudation of time and space. Only then would we have succeeded in claiming that we have established a sound, credible and a strong democracy.

The process of creating a democratic culture cannot be completed overnight, though. What bodes well is that people are increasingly becoming aware and conscious of their rights and they understand democratic system and values, now more than ever. There is still a need to reach out to many rural populations, permeating through the geographic walls that create divide and imbalance. Empowerment must take place at the grass roots.

The good news is the much awaited Local Government elections may take place very soon. Adding to the prolonged delay, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is still facing shortage of candidates. If this is due to political apathy, it is high time we shed our misgivings and participate in the democratic process. If this is due to capable leadership vacuum, our young graduates must make the best of this opportunity. Our young must play a more active role.

The ECB is just two elections old. It is learning by doing. In times to come, there will be obstacles that will need to be overcome. The test has just started. Consistency in conducting free and fair elections for all times to come will be a crucial challenge.

In another incident, the minority opposition party has sued the government for an alleged Constitutional breach. This reflects that we have a system of check and balance. That even a majority government is accountable to the people.

The government of the day has a responsibility and mandate to fulfill. By all means, the conduct must be in tune with the law, devoid of any vested political interest. As the first democratically elected government, it must set a precedence of par excellence.

Meanwhile, it is very likely that the judiciary will face more of these cases in the future. This is just a beginning. The people are watching with bated breath. The judiciary’s independence, fairness, and discretion will be tested, over and again.

We have established a system. But it is not free of vulnerabilities. The system will have to stand its ground. Prove!


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