Bhutan: Political history
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Victory for surgeon Lotay Tshering’s DNT party
Bhutan’s voters gave an overwhelming victory to a new party headed by a surgeon in only the third democratic election held by the Himalayan kingdom, according to provisional results.
The country of 800,000 people, wedged between giant neighbours China and India and known for its Gross National Happiness index, has now chosen a different party to rule at each election since the end of absolute monarchy in 2008.
The centre-left Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), which was only formed in 2013, won 30 of the 47 national assembly seats. Indiasceptic Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) secured the other 17 seats in the runoff contest limited to the two parties who led a first round of voting in September. .
DNT leader Lotay Tshering, a 50-year-old urology surgeon, vowed to work for “nation building” in the country which is battling high foreign debt, mainly owed to India, as well as youth employment and rural poverty.
Relations with India remain sensitive. At least five candidates and activists were fined up to two month’s wages for sending instant messenger statements to groups on relations with India, the Bhutan poll body said. Last year India and China became embroiled in a military standoff over the Doklam plateau claimed by China and Bhutan, and which sits on a strategic corner where the three nations meet. India, which has a military presence in Bhutan, stepped in to prevent China from building a road there.