Date and Time:  Friday, 21 June, 2019  16:30-18:00
Venue: Meeting Room (AA447), 4th Floor, Research Building No.2, Yoshida Main Campus, Kyoto University
(Building no.34 of the map on above page)
Language: English

Prof. Sonam Kinga (Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University/ Professor, Royal Institute of Governance and Strategic Studies, Bhutan)

Prof. Masaaki OKAMOTO  (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University)
Prof. Tatsuro FUJIKURA (Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University)
 “DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION IN BHUTAN: political contest as moral battle”
In the historic elections of Bhutan in 2008, which marked the introduction of parliamentary democracy, only two political parties: Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), participated. In absence of ideological differences between them, DPT cast the elections as moral contest between good and evil whereas PDP focused on highlighting change and service delivery. In constructing itself as the good party, DPT deployed symbols and associations with Bhutan’s respected and successful monarchy. After its electoral victory, DPT re-cast the narrative into an ascribed contest between the powerless and powerful. It projected itself as the powerless one, and went on to undermine some of the King’s constitutionally-defined prerogative as well as royal projects, which were initiated for the long-term benefit of the country and the people. After the end of its tenure in 2013 and the subsequent defeat in the second general elections on 13 July that year, it alleged the palace, among others, as the cause of its defeat. The public but unfounded allegations, which were made during its convention a week later, had left a painful and indelible dent on Bhutan’s national psyche. Rather than react, the King rose above political pressures so that he continues to represent national unity and support the consolidation of democracy. On 13 March 2019, the United Nations Development Program recognized his leadership for the success of Bhutan’s democracy and presented a special award. This seminar, based on my forthcoming book from Routledge, will analyze political discourse, policies and actions centering on the construction of DPT’s narrative and their expression in everyday politics of the first five years of Bhutanese democracy.
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