Located in the eastern Himalayas and known for its index of Gross National Happiness (GNH), Bhutan has only 438,663 registered voters out of an approximate population of 800,000.
The National Assembly's 47 seats are elected by single-member constituencies. In the first round (called primary elections), voters cast votes for parties. Then, the two winning contenders nominate candidates for the second round, regardless of the share of the total votes each of them has got in the first round.
The two main opposition parties, the DNT along with the Druk Phuensum Thosgpa (DPT) which means ‘Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party’ in Bhutanese contested this year's second round after knocking out the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The DNT and the DPT had agreed to keep discussion of Bhutan’s foreign relations out of the campaign — with its two big neighbours India and China, the topic is usually heated in Bhutanese society. The government has also appointed officials to monitor the parties’ online forums to ensure compliance with this agreement.
After the results were in on October 19, DPT leader Dro. Pema Gyamtsho has congratulated DNT on Facebook for its victory:
We humbly accept the choice of the people and wish the president and candidates of DNT all success during their tenure. I hope that Dr. Lotey and his team will ensure that our people would continue to enjoy peace, unity, and harmony under the farsighted leadership of His Majesty the King.
The DNT, which pledged to fulfil 25 of its campaign promises within 120 days, has issued a press release stating they will work with the other political parties to form a Royal Government of Bhutan, not just a DNT government.
Wangcha Sangey, a famous Bhutanese blogger, has echoed the sentiment in envisioning a coalition government in Bhutan.
It remains to be seen how the new prime minister and his party leads Bhutan as it seeks to establish more cooperation with China without upsetting India.
The election was peaceful and had a 71 per cent turnout in its second round.
This year, the Election Commission of Bhutan used Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) along with postal ballots, and they have also used an SMS-based Poll Information System to collect information from its 865 poll stations. Many of them are remote in the mountains.
A record seven out of a total of ten women candidates from both parties have won seats.