Thousands turn out to vote in Bhutan elections

Thousands turn out to vote in Bhutan elections

Thousands turn out to vote in Bhutan elections

Over 60 percent voter turnout was recorded for the second elections to Bhutan's 47-member National Assembly Saturday, according to the latest figures made available by the Election Commission of Bhutan

While 49.46 percent of the male electorate had cast their ballot via electronic voting machines (EVMs) and via post, 50.54 percent of women voters had cast their votes, with the final figures yet to come in. There are 381,790 eligible voters in the country.

Voting started at 9 a.m. local time (8.30 a.m. IST) and was to end at 5 p.m.

Counting has already started in polling centres that have been turned into counting centres after the conclusion of voting.

The ruling Druk Phuensom Tshogpa (DPT) and the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) are pitted against each other in all the 47 seats.

After the first phase of the elections held May 31, in which four parties were in the fray, the DPT and the PDP qualified by virtue of their highest vote tallies.

This means that only one party can form the government and the other will remain in the opposition, ensuring that there is no coalition government in this small Himalayan nation of less than 750,000 people.

While the DPT won 45 seats in the last National Assembly elections in 2008, the PDP won the remaining two.

Elections for the 25 seats of the National Council or upper house were held April 23. While five members of the upper house were nominated by the king, the remaining 20 were  elected from the country's 20 dzongkhags or administrative and judicial districts.

All the candidates in the 20 dzongkhags stood as independents as National Council members are not allowed to belong to any political party.

For Saturday's polling, India has provided Bhutan with nearly 2,000 EVMs and India's Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath has been invited to oversee the election process.