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Bhutan opposition wins majority

July 13, 2013

Bhutan's main opposition party has won a landslide majority in parliamentary elections. It was the second round of voting in just the second election in the Himalayan kingdom’s history.

epa03786581 A Bhutanese woman shows her voter ID card while standing in a queue along with others to cast her vote at Bangtsho polling station in Deothang constituency, Samdrupjongkhar district, Bhutan, 13 July 2013. Tens of thousands of people in Bhutan voted 13 July in the second-ever parliamentary elections, which are being seen as a verdict on five years of democracy in the tiny Himalayan nation. EPA/STRINGER
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The official website of Bhutan's Election Commission says the People's Democratic Party (PDP) won 32 seats in the 47-member national assembly in Saturday's voting, with the ruling Peace and Prosperity Party (DPT) winning only 15 seats.

Both parties emerged as the two leaders following a primary vote back in May that saw four other parties eliminated.

The country's chief election commissioner, Kunzang Wangdi, said a total of 850 polling stations had been set up, many of them in remote mountain villages. About 400,000 people were eligible to cast their ballots in the polls.

In 2008, the DPT won the election by a landslide and won the first round of this year's polls with 45 percent of the vote.

Among the issues said to be foremost in the minds of the kingdom's voters are rising fuel prices, after neighboring India cut subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene to Bhutan. The country has also been struggling under the effects of a credit crunch, another factor that has hurt the popularity of the government.

Bhutan's king gave up the monarchy's centuries-old absolute power in 2008, allowing the introduction of democracy to the Himalayan kingdom, which didn't introduce television until 1999.

Official results of the election will be announced on Sunday.

hc, pfd/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)