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Bhutan

Monthly Event Reports

January 2024 | Tshering Tobgay elected prime minister
Election flag

Bhutan held the fourth parliamentary election in its democratic history on 9 January. Former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won 30 of the 47 National Assembly seats, with Bhutan Tendrel Party declared as the opposition party and securing 17 seats. Initially, five parties participated in the election, three of which were eliminated in the primary round held on 30 November 2023. Voter turnout decreased to 65.6 per cent from 71.46 per cent in the 2018 election. The drop coincides with the withdrawal of postal ballot facilities for Bhutanese residing overseas last year, as well as other cost-cutting measures such as reduced polling stations and officials amid post-pandemic economic considerations. The number of women elected decreased to two (4.3 per cent) from seven in the previous election. International observers praised the election for its free and fair conduct.

April 2023 | National Council elections held

Bhutan’s National Council (NC) elections were held on 20 April. Voter turnout was at a historic high of 54.64 per cent (compared to 54.29 per cent in the 2018 NC elections), despite concerns that postal ballot restrictions and the removal of postal ballot facilitation booths would negatively impact turnout. While experiencing a drop in voter participation between 2008-2013, voter turnout has increased gradually for each NC election cycle due to key electoral reforms introduced by the Election Commission.  Overall, two out of ten contesting incumbents returned, with eighteen new members elected to the council. The election failed to advance women’s representation, with only one woman out of five aspiring candidates elected to the 20-member NC, compared to two women elected in the last 2018 NC election. Parties are now gearing up for the National Assembly elections expected to be held later this year.

March 2023 | Postal voting restrictions ahead of National Council election

Ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for 20 April 2023, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has declared it will only provide postal ballot services to eligible voters covered under Section 331 of the Election Act of Bhutan 2008. This excludes Bhutanese working in State Owned Enterprises, private companies and persons living abroad who are not registered, students and civil servants. ECB also declared that the system of voting through Postal Ballot Facilitation Booths (PBFB) is discontinued ahead of the upcoming election. As a result, those working in the private and corporate sectors residing in urban centres will have to incur time and travel costs to register votes at designated polling stations in their constituencies i.e., hometowns. Many fear the decision may result in lower voter turnout.

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GSoD Indices Data 2013-2022

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Basic Information

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Population Tooltip
779 900
System of government
Constitutional Monarchy
Head of government
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay (since 2024)
Head of government party
People's Democratic Party
Electoral system for lower or single chamber
First Past the Post
Women in lower or single chamber
4.3%
Women in upper chamber
12.0%
Last legislative election
2024
Effective number of political parties Tooltip
3.55
Head of state
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Selection process for head of state
Hereditary or election by hereditary state rulers
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) date
08/05/2019
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) percentage of recommendations supported
71.36%
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Human Rights Treaties

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State Party State party
Signatory Signatory
No Action No action
United Nations Human Right Treaties
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
No Action
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
No Action
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Signatory
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
State Party
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
No Action
Convention on the Rights of the Child
State Party
International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
No Action
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 
No Action
International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Signatory
in
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Categories of Democratic Performance

Representation neutral Representation
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Representation neutral Rights
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Representation neutral Rule of law
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Representation neutral Participation
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Global State of Democracy Indices

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Representation
Representation
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/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rights
Rights
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/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rule of Law
Rule of Law
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/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Participation
Participation
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Annual value

Factors of Democratic Performance Over Time

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