Political Culture and Democracy in Bhutan: An Insight
Keywords:Political Culture, Democracy, Kingdom, Monarchy, Transition
The democratic transition of Bhutan is often romanticised in popular media through utopian projection of Gross National Happiness. While it is glorified for its top-down democratisation, it has a flip side with no effective opposition either from the parties or the people. Adhering to the democracy as tailored by the King is viewed by the Bhutanese as a gift to live by without questioning or even criticising. This has largely to do with the policies long adopted by the Bhutanese Royals to develop a strong sense of national loyalty that does not bespoke of any form of opposition. Accordingly in an age of globalisation where people in most democracies vociferously voice their opinions even on the social media platforms, a quiet adherence to government rules and policies in Bhutan gives a mystified picture. A demystification of this phenomenon perhaps lies in the study of the political culture of Bhutan which is unlike that of other democratic countries. Political culture implies the system of beliefs and values that the people have towards their political system. It denotes the emotional attitudinal environment within which the political system operates. Accordingly, the paper will examine the political culture of Bhutan so as to give an insight into its process of democratic transition and functioning. It will attempt to understand the Bhutanese political culture to analyse the danger of inaccurate conclusions based on misconceptions not entirely true to Bhutan’s reality. This article is written with the support of the ICSSR postdoctoral fellowship programme (2018-2019) on ‘Democracy and Nationalism in Bhutan: Challenges and Prospects’.
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