31st May, 2007

Is it assured leadership that is yet to declare itself?

What is the driving force behind a prospective political candidate’s decision to align with a particular party? Is it the likeliness of victory? Is it the promise of a ministerial berth? Is it assured leadership that is yet to declare itself?

So far none of the parties in the fray have outlined their ideologies.

“Many would join a party that is likely to win the elections,� said a Thimphu analyst who is tracking the movement of prospective candidates. “They are risking secure jobs and it would be reasonable to join a party that would guarantee them a sure ticket�

According to party officials of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the party’s Constituency Committee would nominate their candidates, but there was already a handful of people who have declared that they would contest for the party.

A spokesperson for the Bhutan People’s United Party(BPUP) had earlier told Kuensel that they would identify their candidates after they finalise their manifesto.

Generally, an interested candidate would join a party depending on how they view a party’s ideas and beliefs, but without the manifestos, observers say that ‘clear visibility of a party leader’ could also be the reason at the moment.

“I believe in a strong and credible leadership,� said a possible candidate from Trashigang, who has joined PDP. “Going by the people who are joining the party, I see a strong team,� he added. Another possible candidate had been quoted saying that he chose to run for PDP because the party is ‘led by a person known for his service.’

A third PDP candidate said that in choosing a party the most important thing was the trust and confidence of the people in the party. “PDP is more democratic in its establishment and I did think hard before choosing it,� he said.

The justification stands given that many people think that more and more people would join BPUP if a notable minister leads the party. But there are others who feel that joining a party based on personality could send the wrong message.

“I wouldn’t go for personality,� said a civil servant waiting to join a party. “I am waiting for the parties to announce their manifestos. I would look into the visions and aspirations of the party, take it to the people and see if they would agree to it before joining,� he said.

An analyst said that from his close interactions with the possible candidates, he became skeptical of their interest and motives. “Many didn’t have answers when I asked them what would they do if their ideologies deviated from that of the party they are joining,� he said. “This shows that they are joining for other reasons.�

“In most case people were approached and it is a top down approach,� he said. “This means both the party and the candidates are not prepared. When the choices are clear, people should make reasoned judgment.�

Another observer pointed out that the possible candidates, mostly civil servants, made a calculative move in choosing their party. “They have already made a bold move by sacrificing their jobs,� he said. Given the risks it is a reasonable calculation to align with a party that would win votes and then win a seat for you.�

However, notwithstanding the party they choose with or without understanding the parties, observers also appreciate the movement from the civil service to politics. “They are responding to the need of the country,� said an observer. “There should be more people declaring, especially the ministers to lead or form new parties so that people would be offered more choices,� he said.

“To have a healthy democracy there should be more parties and any serving minister forming a party would inject impetus to the democratic process,� said a former lecturer. “Ministers joining politics is the need of the hour,� he said.� Source: Kuenselonline

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