Opposition PDP wins Bhutan elections

Thimphu, July 13 (IANS) Bhutan's opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) emerged victorious Saturday night in the country's second parliamentary elections as voters gave their verdict on five years of democracy.

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) won 32 seats in the 47-member National Assembly while the incumbent Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) won just 15 seats, according to the Election Commission of Bhutan.

The Himalayan country witnessed enthusiastic polling with over 80 percent balloting. Bhutan became a democracy in 2008. In the last election, the PDP had won only two of the 47 seats and the DPT 45.

Elections for the 25 seats of the National Council or upper house were held April 23. While five members of the upper house were nominated by the king, the remaining 20 were elected from the country's 20 dzongkhags or administrative and judicial districts.

All the candidates in the 20 dzongkhags stood as independents as National Council members are not allowed to belong to any political party.

For Saturday's polling, India provided Bhutan with nearly 2,000 EVMs and India's Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath was invited to oversee the election process.

India's withdrawal of subsidy on kerosene and cooking gas had become a major campaign issue. But India has assured that it will not let the people of Bhutan suffer any hardship and will discuss the subsidy issue with the new government.

Bhutan is the only country in the world to pursue Gross National Happiness as a development model that balances spiritual and mental wellbeing with financial growth.

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