Bhutan’s road to democracy is in many ways considered unique. A small country nestled in the Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan transitioned to democracy in 2008 after the former King voluntarily abdicated in favor of his son. This was done to create the imperative conditions for a smooth and successful transition to a multi-party democracy. This period also enabled the drafting of the constitution through extensive public consultation.
International IDEA has supported the country’s transition to democracy since 2012, assisting the Election Commission of Bhutan through capacity building activities. From 2013 onwards, the support was extended to the parliament, helping them meet their constitutional mandates. IDEA’s technical advice and support is aimed at building the capacity of the legislators and staff in the parliamentary secretariat and promoting institutional reform through effective streamlining and formalization of procedures. International IDEA contributes to, among other things, improving the legislative and policy analysis capacity of the parliamentarians; building human resource capacity of the secretariat through peer learning with other regional and global parliamentary bodies; training members of parliament on effective media relations and communication outreach; and enhancing research and drafting skills of the key parliamentary committee staff.
Aside from assisting the election commission with enhancing citizens’ understanding of electoral processes, we also supported civil society organizations in Bhutan in delivering civic education on democratic principles and good governance, promoting dialogue on the rights and responsibilities of citizens, and enhancing civic participation, particularly as it relates to women.