The logo and website of the Bhutan Democracy Dialogue (BDD) was successfully launched at Royal Banguet Hall in the capital Thimphu in Bhutan . This marked the beginning of a new multiparty platform taking form in Bhutan. It happened with the honorable presence of her Majesty the Queen Mother, the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, a number of prominent cabinet ministers, the Speaker of Parliament, Chief Election Commissioner and many party members of the 5 political parties.
Report by DIPD projectcoordinator, Susanne Adelhardt
With inspiration from Denmark
The five registered political parties of Bhutan set up the BDD with the signing of a Charter for Bhutan Democracy Dialogue with the Election Commission in November 2014. The establishment of the BDD is a direct outcome of a joint study tour to Denmark for the representatives of all the 5 registered political parties in Bhutan in June 2014. The study tour was organized and supported by DIPD and upon return to Bhutan, the 5 parties decided to form BDD and plan for multiparty activities inspired by some of the multiparty activities they had participated in during the study visit in Denmark, including planning for a Democracy Festival with inspiration from the “Peoples meeting” at Bornholm.
Photo: BDD members during the press conference
Culture of dialogue and cooperation
The multiparty platform is set up with a vision to achieve a mature democratic culture and to promote a vibrant democracy and encourage political parties to work together and take a common position on issues of national interest. The platform encourages political parties to engage in dialogue, build cooperation and partnership across party lines.
The BDD has a steering committee comprising of two representatives, each from the registered political parties and the Election Commission of Bhutan. A chairperson for BDD is to be elected biannually by the members of the committee. At its first meeting held on 24th November 2015, Ms. Lily Wangchuk, the President of Druk Chirwang Tshogpa, was elected as the first chair to head the steering committee for the first 6 months.
Photo: BDD launch at the Royal Banquet Hall on 17th April
Deepening democracy in Bhutan
The present chairperson of BDD Lily Wangchuck (from Druk Chirwang Tshogpa) in her opening remarks, stated that “the multiparty platform through BDD will encourage political parties to work together and take a common position on issues, which will further help consolidate Bhutanese Democracy and deepen our democratic culture”. She also emphasized that “political cooperation achieved through an interparty dialogue is an important cornerstone for an effective and sustainable democracy leading to conflict prevention and peace building, and to regain the public’s confidence in the democratic system”.
The Chief Election Commissioner Dasho Kunzan Wangdi called the launch a historic event and stressed that “political leaders must become examples of good conduct and behavior, and stand as example of pillars of integrity, shining the light of hope of principled partisan politics as model for the democratic world”.
Photo: The Queen Mother greeting the ministers and the BDD Chair Lily Wangchuck
Statement and greetings from the DIPD Director
The project coordinator Susanne Adelhardt was present at the launch in Bhutan and read out a statement from the DIPD Director Bjørn Førde. The Director in his statement underlined that “it all comes down to what citizens believe is right, and what they believe will work for them. Just like in Denmark, political parties and their representatives in Bhutan need to earn the trust and respect from the citizens, not only when an election takes place, but on a daily basis”. The Director also in his statement emphasized that DIPD look forward to continue the journey with BDD in the years to come.
Photo: The Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangechuck with the Prime Minister, Bhutan Election Commission, BDD members and DIPD coordinator at the launch
The important role of the media
Following the launch of the new BDD website and the BDD logo by the Queen Mother a photo session was initiated outside the Royal Banguet Hall. And when the queen mother had left, all the five parties were present at a well visited press conference. Here the BDD Steering Committee members stressed the need for the media to actively understand their role as message bringer of the multiparty dialogue.
One of the steering committee members noted “sometimes the press is only interested when there is a fight among parties. But the media should also play a role in letting the people of Bhutan know of the important multiparty dialogue that will be taking place with the important work of the BDD
On a positive note the launch of the BDD was widely covered by the Bhutan newspapers as well as by the national broadcasting company transmitting from the historic launching event.
Local Media Coverage
KUENSEL, APRIL 18 2015
THE BHUTANESE, APRIL 18 2015
BUSINESS BHUTAN, 18 2015