Bhutan’s prime minister conceded defeat on Sunday (Sept 16), after the ruling party was knocked out in the first round of the small Himalayan nation’s third-ever election. Harvard-educated Tshering Tobgay was seeking a second term in the poll but fell short of two rival parties, who will contest a runoff on Oct 18. Election officials said that the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) party, which won Bhutan’s first-ever election when the kingdom transitioned to democracy in 2008, attracted nearly 93,000 votes, narrowly beating the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) party. “I congratulate DNT and DPT and their candidates (on) their outstanding performance,” Mr Tobgay posted on Twitter.
Mr Tobgay, a 52-year-old mountain-biking enthusiast, and his People’s Democratic Party won power from opposition in 2013.
More than 291,000 people cast their vote in Saturday’s poll, with a 66 per cent turnout of registered voters, an election official told AFP.
Bhutan has tried to shield itself from the downsides of modernisation, striving for “Gross National Happiness” over growth in gross domestic product, maintaining a carbon-negative economy and keeping tourist numbers down, with a daily fee of US$250 (S$344) per visitor in the high season.