17th Seminar on Bhutan
17th Seminar on Bhutan “Monarchy And Democracy in Bhutan” / Thurs. 21 July 2016
[Date] Thurs. 21 July 2016
[Place] Small Seminar Room 1 (3rd floor) at Kyoto University Inamori Center
(46 Shimoadachi-cho, Yoshida Sakyo-ku, Kyoto)
[Speaker] Karma Tenzin (Researh Fellow, The Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University)
[Title] Monarchy And Democracy in Bhutan
Bhutan became one of the youngest democracies in the world when it conducted its first parliamentary elections on March 24, 2008, bringing an end to 100 years of absolute monarchy. This transformation of a hermit kingdom, isolated from the rest of the world for the better part of its recent history and ruled by four generations of successive monarchs since 1907, is indeed a milestone. Surprisingly, it was the very institution of monarchy, in particular the fourth King of Bhutan who spearheaded the democratic process, which ultimately paved way for the 2008 parliamentary elections.
Eight years on, people of Bhutan seem to have embraced democracy in true spirit, despite their initial reservation/misgiving about the whole political transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional democracy. The national assembly and the national council are taking the lead in formulating policies, local government elections have empowered people at the grassroots, encouraging them to actively participate in the decision making process, and free press have created a platform for the people to closely follow – and if need be criticize the activities of the government – bringing transparency and accountability.
The institution of monarchy is still at the center of Bhutan’s new found polity and its popularity has been growing by the day. What makes Bhutan’s democracy unique has been argued by many scholars. Hence, I would like to talk about Bhutan’s journey into parliamentary democracy and the role of the king in this new governance, the role of the king and the constitutional provisions guiding the institution of monarchy.
*Open to Researchers and Students
**Free of charge