Democracy was introduced by the fourth King of Bhutan in 2008. By 2013, the small kingdom in the Himalayas has taken important steps towards democratic consolidation with free and fair elections in both 2008 and 2013, and a media and civil society landscape emerging to support a democratic political culture rooted in the concept of Gross National Happiness.
With the 2013 elections, Bhutan has not only experienced a peaceful transfer of power from the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) to the the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but has also achieved a greater balance of power between government and opposition and the emergence of three new political parties: the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) and the Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP).
The very first Local Government Elections in Bhutan was held in June 2011. The results were most imbalanced from a gender perspective, leaving female representation at only 6.9 %. In the second Local Government Elections in September 2016 there was an increase in female representation, however there is still some way to go in order to ensure gender balance in the governance of Bhutan.
To support the democratic transition in Bhutan, DIPD has since 2011 supported a range of organizations and initiatives. We have especially focused on the political participation of women, but also supported media and research initiatives to support a democratic political culture in Bhutan. All DIPD partnerships in Bhutan are funded through the pool for multiparty activities.