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Political transition: 100 Years of Monarchy to Democracy The political system of Bhutan changed dramatically when in April, 2008, Bhutan became a democracy after hundred years of monarchy. On 17 December 2005, the fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, announced his abdication from the throne in favour of his son and heirapparent, Trongsa Penlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Even more significantly, the fourth Druk Gyalpo declared that Bhutan would become a democracy and that the general elections would be held in 2008. He was steadfast about his decision

even as his people begged him to reconsider, voicing their concerns and fears about a new system they were skeptical about. The general perception was, the hereditary monarchy has worked well for the country and there is no need for any change. What is unique about Bhutan’s transition to democracy is that unlike other countries where democracy was often achieved with bloody rebellions and warfare, in Bhutan it was initiated from the throne itself. It was introduced at a time of unprecendented peace, stablity and prosperity, and against the will of the people who literally worshipped their wise and visionary monarchs.

Contrary to most countries where monarchy is only a symbolic institution, the Bhutanese monarchy has always been the leading force of change and unity

106 X FACTS ABOUT BHUTAN The National Council The Lodroe Tshogde (Royal Advisory Council) was established in 1965 by the third Druk Gyalpo to advise the King and government ministers and to supervise the implementation of programmes and policies laid down by the National Assembly. The Royal Advisory Council had nine members which includes six elected representatives of the people, two elected representatives of the clergy and one government nominee who usually became the Chairman of the Council. The Royal Advisory Council was dissolved in August 2007. In the new dispensation of the state structure, the National Council is a legislative body and also the House of Review on matters affecting the security and sovereignty of the country and the interests of the nation and the people. It is responsible for reviewing the functioning of the executive and the National Assembly; reviewing and commenting on legislative proposals, or bills and national policies, plans and programs being implemented by the government. The National Council consists of 25 members formed by 20 members elected by the electorate of the 20 Dzongkhag and five eminent persons appointed by the King. The Chairperson and Vice Chairperson are elected by the National Council from among its members. The National Council members are not affiliated to any political party. The minimum qualification required to serve as a member is a formal Bachelors’ Degree or equivalent from a recognized University.


Tenzin Namgay, Bhutan Times Ltd.


Honourable democratically elected members of the first National Council: Front row: (Left to Right) Tshewang Lhamo, Pema Lhamo, Dr. M. K. Rai, Jigme Wangchuk, Jigme Rinzin, Dr. Jakar Dorji, Justin Gurung, Sangay Zam, Sonam Rinchen Middle Row: Sonam Dorji, Naichu, Rinzin Rinzin, Tshewang Jurme, Thrizin Namgye Penjore, Sangay Khandu, Kezang Namgyel Last Row: Karma D. Wangdi, Tshering Dorji, Sonam Kinga, Ugyen Tshering


Policy of governance in Bhutan


Policy of governance in Bhutan