This is pretty big news. Hot on the heels of Kosovo declaring itself independent, Bhutan, a hundred year old monarchy has brought itself forward as a democracy.
What’s most incredible about this story is that it is the King that is pushing this forward. Think about it. The absolute monarch of a nation is pushing to dilute his power and bring authority to his citizens.
And this isn’t one of those situations where the people were pushing for changes. Just listening to the interviews shows that. Under the latest King, the economy was doing better than ever before. More and more people were being lifted out of poverty.
Beyond that, the previous system had provided medicine and education to the nation. This is a country where internet was only allowed somewhat recently, and it already outperforms its neighbours (India, Pakistan) in terms of economic growth and transparency.
“His Majesty is like our father. We all prefer our father,” said Karma Tsheweng, a 35-year-old mechanic.
But Tsheweng and hundreds of thousands of others nonetheless lined up at polling stations across the Land of the Thunder Dragon to vote Monday, excited at getting to try something new, but nervous about what may happen after they’ve traded their Precious Ruler for politicians.
One of the most interesting things about this whole experience is that so many of the citizens themselves seem to be doubtful. They wonder how all these politicians can actually be better, or do better, since they all seem so petty.
In a nutshell,
“Why do we need these people and their arguments?” asked 48-year-old Kinzang Tshering after listening to one candidate make his spiel days before the vote. “They tell us they are better than the other ones. How should I know which one is better?”
Insane. Absolutely mad. How can any nation expect this? What’s funny is that it’s the truth anywhere you live. All these politicians bring in their arguments, and there really is no way for anyone to know who is better.
No matter what, welcome to the World’s Newest Democracy. They’ve already understood some of democracy’s biggest challenges.