Documentary Film - Bhutan’s Democracy: A Decade On, Highlights Its Changing Socio-Political Landscape


The film was made with support from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

Prayer flags of Bhutan. (Source: Away from the office)


By Sonam Choden BBS

A documentary film on Bhutan’s democratic journey - Bhutan’s Democracy: A Decade On, was launched in Thimphu on 20 February.

The 39 minutes documentary was produced by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD).

Bhutan’s transition from monarchical rule to a young democratic nation

The documentary is about the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan’s transition to democracy.

The film is a reflection on the changing socio-political landscape since the introduction of democracy to Bhutan in 2008, when its first-ever parliamentary election ended the monarchical rule.

His Majesty the King Jigme Singye Wangchuk formally abdicated on 9 December 2006 for Bhutan to make her transition to democracy.



His Majesty the King Jigme Singye Wangchuk crowning his son, His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in November 2008.

Photo: Unofficial Royalty


When he announced his abdication 2006, he clarified that democracy as a form of governance should be a key pillar for Bhutan to achieve Gross National Happiness (GNH).

The concept, conceived by His Majesty himself, became the country's benchmark to promote a more balanced and equitable development, as opposed to the usual Gross National Product (GNP), used as a measurement of economic growth adopted by most countries in the world.

Social media literacy of its people needs to be addressed in Bhutan

In recent years, Bhutan has been wrestling with the impact of social media on elections which posed as a challenge for a conservative society that only allowed its people to watch television in 1999. 

Besides portraying the role of media in a democracy, the film also explains the need for better social media literacy awareness in the country.



Screening of the documentary film - Bhutan’s Democracy: A Decade On.

Photo: BBS 


The film pointed out that social media are often the source of false allegations, especially during elections.

Shedding light on the people’s perceptions on democracy and its impact on society

The film is also a compilation of different views on democracy in Bhutan. It sheds light on democracy’s benefits and challenges based on the viewpoints of a diverse group of citizens including politicians, local leaders, academicians, journalists, youth and women.

“We just wanted to capture the views of people across Bhutan after ten years of democracy to be able to share, to document what happened after three elections and the three governments,” said Siok Sian Dorji, the Executive Director of BCMD.



Bhutanese voters at the 3rd Election in 2018.



“We hope people in the community across Bhutan will watch the documentary, think about it and say ‘oh I agree or I do not agree’ or I think this is because democracy should be a daily conversation as it is our new system of governance, instead of thinking that democracy is only for politicians or adults. Everyone should be able to discuss it,” added Siok Sian Dorji.

The educational film will also be distributed to schools, colleges and other training institutes all across the country.

The project was undertaken with support from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.


This article first appeared in BBS and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


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