The Latest on Bhutan Research
Gallenkamp, Marian (2013), 'Triumph of Democracy: Bhutan Elections 2013', IPCS Special Report No. 144, September 2013. Click here to read the full-text-article. Abstract: Five years ago, the first democratic elections in Bhutan and the promulgation of the country’s constitution marked the beginning of a new era for the Bhutanese people and a crowning achievement for King Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s bold and yet provident vision for the nation. Despite many observers’ and analysts’ skepticism about the prospects of a successful transition and the sincerity of the monarchy’s intentions and support for democracy, Bhutan continued steadfastly on its path towards democratic consolidation. Although that road [more]
Gallenkamp, Marian (2013), 'Bhutan Election 2013: A Triumph for Democracy and a Test for Indo-Bhutan Relations', The Diplomatist, August 2013, pp. 35-37. Click here to read the full-text-article. Abstract: When Bhutan held its first ever democratic elections in 2008, the Himalayan kingdom attracted much well-deserved international attention. After all, its democratic transition was nothing short of an historic precedence, where a farsighted monarch chose to voluntarily relinquish power and ‘forced’ a democratic system of governance upon his rather reluctant and skeptical subjects. However, many observers and analysts remained skeptical about the prospects of a successful transition and the sincerity of the monarchy’s intentions [more]
Below you can find a number of recent articles written by Dr. S. Chandrasekharan for the South Asia Analysis Group. [wptab name='Note No. 696 Oct. 2013'] Bhutan: PM makes his debut in the National Assembly Click here to read the full-text-article. Abstract: As is customary, Prime Minister Tobgay presented the State of the Nation Report in the first meeting of the National Assembly. He made a departure in calling the presentation as sacred and inviolable “State of Tsa-Wa-Sun” - “King, Country and People.” Overall, his performance could be considered as excellent though on some controversial issues he was not frank enough. Some of the [more]
Bisht, Medha and Dil Bahadur Rahut (2013), 'Assessing Bhutan’s Elections: Some Facts, Some Assumptions', Economic & Political Weekly, September 28. Click here to read the full-text-article. Abstract: Bhutan witnessed its fi rst democratic election on 24 March 2008. Two political parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), were registered in September and October 2007 under the leadership of Sangay Ngedup and Jigmi Y Thinley, respectively. Both, Sangay Ngedup and Jigme Y Thinley, were experienced leaders holding ministerial portfolios for almost a decade, and had also served as prime ministers. Signifi cantly, the results of the 2008 National Assembly [more]
Jha, Tilak (2013), 'China and its Peripheries: Limited Objectives in Bhutan', IPCS Issue Brief No. 233. Click here to read the full-text-article. Abstract: Of all the nations that border China, its comparison with Bhutan would appear to be a paradox. In comprehensive power terms, Bhutan is almost a nonentity to China. Bhutan’s biggest disadvantage is its geography that limits its connectivity to India in South and China in north with no access to sea or any other third country without using either Indian or Chinese land or airspace. Nevertheless, in the geopolitical context of today’s South Asia, Bhutan’s geography has strategic ramifications for [more]
Dorji, Kunkhen (2013), 'India-Bhutan: A Model of Friendship?', IPCS Article No. 3994. Click here to read the full-text-article. Abstract: After the renewal of the Indo-Bhutan Treaty in 2007, Bhutan took charge of its foreign and defence policies which were till then guided by India. But economically, the country is still majorly dependent on India and the level of Indian investments coming into the country would make it difficult for Bhutan to have its own independent economic policy. But China today is a reality for Bhutan and India cannot afford to ignore this, if it wants stable relation with Bhutan which shares a border with [more]
Dorji, Kunkhen (2013), 'Bhutan and China: Two Friendly Dragons??', IPCS Article No. 3963. Click here to read the full-text-article. Abstract: Bhutan has had many rounds of talks regarding border dispute, but never a high level interaction with the Chinese government. The recent meetings between Prime Minister Jigme Thinley of Bhutan and Premier Wen Jiabao of China in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 came as a surprise to many especially to India, which sees Bhutan as its closest ally. Will this sour the ties between India and Bhutan? How is Bhutan balancing both these powers which are also its immediate neighbours? Bhutan today cannot afford [more]
Bisht, Medha (2013), '“Unpredictability” in Bhutan’s elections', published by openDemocracy, 17 May 2013. Click here to read the full article. Abstract: “The elections in 2013 will be unpredictable.” This was a response I received from a high standing official when I visited Thimpu last summer. When I asked, “Why?”, I was told that the “Bhutanese voters are unpredictable.” However, other experts in Thimpu gave me the distinct impression that the current incumbent party - Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), would win the elections, if only because of the lack of viable alternatives - and not due to their popularity. The decisions undertaken by the [more]
Dorji, Kunkhen (2013), 'Bhutan: Is Democracy a Reality?', IPCS Article No. 3940. Click here to read the full-text-article. Abstract: According to the government of Bhutan, the first historical election on 24 March 2008 was a huge success, and democracy is on the right track in the Himalayan kingdom. But many are critical of such analyses and assert that it is a controlled democracy and the monarchy still calls the shots. Why is Bhutan still under scrutiny with respect to monarchy, democracy, and the much celebrated free and fair elections? The rulers have always maintained that the country is free and the government enjoys legitimacy. [more]
Gallenkamp, Marian (2013), 'Bhutan: Democratically Challenged?', IPCS Article No. 3941. Click here for the full-text-version of this article. Abstract: There are a number of analysts and activists who would strongly reject the question mark at the end of this commentary’s title, and instead replace it with an exclamation mark. Then there are others, whose romanticised vision of a last ‘Shangri La’ cloud their perspective on the, not so romantic, reality of politics and governance. In seeking the middle ground between the activist and the idealist, this piece tries to disentangle and rectify some of the objections and criticism most commonly voiced against Bhutanese [more]
Bhutan Research is a website dedicated to the study of politics and democracy in Bhutan, one of the world’s most fascinating and yet scientifically so much neglected countries.
For most of the past decades, the Kingdom of Bhutan has been ignored by students and scholars of political science alike, resulting in a critical lack of knowledge, understanding and proper analysis of this particular case. However, Bhutan has much to contribute to the scientific debate, not only since its astonishing and unique transition to democracy in 2008. It raises many questions relating to some of the most important discourses in political science ranging from concepts of national identity, to development approaches, to the ideas about the very form and nature of democracy itself, to name only a few.
More research on Bhutan is needed to provide a better understanding of its politics and institutions, but also to broaden the view with regard to more general issues of mainstream political science.