To Vote or Not to Vote

It’s less than a month before we will be electing our parliamentary leaders. And here I am, far away from home, with absolutely no idea of who I will be voting for. Yes, there is one familiar name – and one of my distant nephews is in the fray too. This is all I could gather from a very rationed media coverage this time. I have been craving for more information on the candidates. What do they stand for, what solutions they have for our issues, what visions they have crafted for our country. But absolutely nothing.

Other than these two candidates I even don’t know who the other candidates are from my Dzongkhag, Tashigang. So I might vote for one or the other – or not vote at all. I don’t want to be undoing the very spirit of democracy, which is to vote for the best. In voting for someone familiar, I would be diluting the decisions of well-thought votes of other Tashigangpas, who would have made a more informed choice – a privilege that we living abroad don’t have. But it seems the back-and-forth blame game between the Election Commission and the media is pushing us in that direction. And mind you, we are not electing a class captain for the school year. But national leaders whose decisions will impact us one way or the other and have solid bearing on our collective future.

Is this how our democracy is going to be, henceforth? Where we vote for familiar people, friends and relatives? Where we make uniformed choices because of a very restrictive so-called electoral laws? Aren’t laws supposed to be subordinate to the provisions of the Constitution, which, in my view, is crystal clear? This is not how I understand the Constitution – especially Articles 7.2, 7.3 and 7.5 pertaining to freedom of speech, press or information. No law is above the Constitution.

Or is it even the electoral laws that are limiting? Anyway, I don’t think this is how we build, or how a vibrant democracy works. I always thought that as a small country, we are better than this. That we can sit down and iron out the differences in understanding and interpretations of rules and processes. Ours is a new democracy and obviously not everything will be perfect. The media agencies and the Election Commission should sit down and clear this fog. Are they not working for us, the people?

Or, do we brace ourselves for a set of parliamentarians who come from big or influential families and not necessarily from the best lot? And after the elections, we just whine for five years, right? Or should we just enjoy the massive campaign of misinformation and disinformation that dominate the current political narratives?

Just asking.

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