PDP SG says the party is fully prepared for the 2023 elections

The loss in the primary round of the 2018 elections surprised many people including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Since then, PDP has been reflecting on the 2018 elections and accordingly working. The party has a cohort of highly qualified, well-educated and experienced candidates, some of whom have already gone to their constituencies. PDP has been continuously  sharpening its axe and is ready for the 2023 general elections.
Speaking to The Journalist, the party’s Secretary General (SG) Kuenga Tashi said that after the 2018 elections, the PDP had an excellent opportunity to reflect on and review their accomplishments and make necessary preparations for 2023. “We are fully prepared for the next election now,” he said, adding that some of the candidates have started visiting their constituencies. PDP candidates have always been in touch with their respective constituents, the party’s SG said.  “Because of the Covid situation, our candidates based in Thimphu have not been able to visit our villages as much as often and meet families, coordinators, relatives, and supporters,” he added. 
While getting good candidates is one of the main problems faced by political parties, PDP’s SG said this is not an issue in the PDP camp. “We have a cohort of highly qualified, well-educated and experienced candidates. There isn’t a need to change any of the 47,” Kuenga said. However, from the 47 candidates, a few have withdrawn from the candidacy due to genuine reasons and a few will not be eligible to contest for the 2023 election owing to the age factor. “We received so many equally competent candidates for replacement and are ready to announce them any time soon,” he said. 
On claims and words on the grapevine that PDP’s supporters at the grassroots have moved to other parties, the SG said it is a rumour spread with the intent to weaken the party. “We do not believe that our supporters at the grassroots have moved to other parties. That must be a rumour spread with the intent of weakening the PDP by other parties. We rather have supporters and coordinators from other political parties joining us. Our support base is stronger than ever before. We are constantly in touch with our supporters’ sharing ideas and information that is crucial for the party and for the 2023 election,” he said. 
Concerning people’s perceptions that the inability to garner support from Eastern Bhutan has been the main factor for the party’s loss in the former elections, the party’s SG said it is not true. “Yes, we lost the last primary election by a slim margin, but we also had a sizable contingent of supporters from the East. Today, we are happy to say that the PDP is confident and secure that our support base in the east has increased by twofold,” he said.
While nothing concrete can be said about the 2023 elections, Dorji, from a constituency in Trashigang who had not supported the PDP in 2018 said he had made a mistake. “I have seen our constituency’s MP only once and there has been no development at all. Everyone blames the pandemic, but the pandemic provided opportunities to farmers especially for which our MP did nothing. Our former MP was much better and people have realized it,” he said. 
Political pundits meanwhile are betting for the PDP. “Eastern Bhutan determines the elections to a certain extend and I have heard people saying that giving a party three terms is more than enough. Moreover, anti-incumbency is another factor that will work to the PDP’s advantage,” a senior journalist said. “Further PDP’s candidates have stayed in touch with their constituencies,” he said. 
Meanwhile, though PDP lost in the primaries in 2018, it secured 79,883 votes. PDP would have won the primary round if only Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) votes were counted. It secured the highest EVM votes at 56,180 compared to DNT’s 55,166 and DPT’s 53,108. However, the party lost in the postal ballots getting only 23,703 compared to DNT’s 37,556 and DPT’s 36,912.
“PDP will definitely come out stronger in 2023 and would have analyzed every factor as they have people who can do such calculations. Voter demographics have changed and the party must already be working very hard for the postal ballots,” a former NC member said. According to him, new parties have several challenges, while the ruling party is busy with governance. DPT, on the other hand does not seem to have serious representatives, he said. “All will work to PDP’s advantage. But then, we cannot trust Bhutanese voters,” he added.   
Meanwhile, when asked about comments on the entry of a new party, Druk Thundrel Tshogpa (DTT), PDP’s SG said he heard rumors of their efforts in registering the party floating. “And we wish them good luck,” he said.