Global Politics

Bhutan's first democratic election

BL says the country is trying to make this leap from the middle ages to the 21st century in one generation. The country has tried to think this through and the Fourth King measures their progress through something called Gross National Happiness, not through GNP. They've tried to put some meat on the bones of the idea. For the Bhutanese this is a matter of survival and the pillars of happiness are sustainable development, protection of the environment and good governance. Good governance the king says is only perfectable through democracy and the funny thing is most of the subjects, who are happy with the monarchy, would disagree. (So how are the Bhutanese viewing this election?) I think there's a fear of democracy and since eight years when TV was introduced by royal decree they've seen a bit about how chaotic democracy can be. They are giving it a chance but are doing so at the behest of the monarchy. (Tell me about the Bhutanese and their creation myth.) The introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan is an important moment and one that is still referred to as if it happened yesterday. Their reality is shaped in the deep countryside. (There seems to be phallic imagery everywhere in Bhutan.) These are meant to ward off evil spirits rather than encouragement for fertility.

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