Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Politics of Bhutan
Since 1907 the political organisation of Bhutan has been a monarchy (see List of kings of Bhutan ). The executive powers of the King were transferred to a council of ministers in 1998. An appointed National Assembly meets annually in July to pass legislation.
No political parties are allowed in the country. A democratic constitution for the kingdom is presently being drafted.
A Government policy of fostering traditional culture includes mandatory wearing of the northern Buddhist dress (gho and kira), accompanied by regulations restricting employment and educational opportunities for residents who are not of full Bhutanese descent. Southern Bhutanese are required to prove that they are bona fide citizens and not 'economic migrants' from Nepal or India. Following the introduction of these policies, the political situation in the south deteriorated in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with civil disobedience directed against the authorities, and alleged use of force by the government to persuade 'non-citizens' to leave the country. The true facts about the disturbances are difficult to establish, however, as there is also evidence that some anti-Government activities were organised by professional agitators and illegal immigrants.
Approximately 40,000 people claiming to be Bhutanese refugees are said to be stranded in Sikkim today, and another 105,000 in Nepal. Some reports by independent journalists suggest that not all of those claims are genuine. Negotiations are proceeding between Bhutan and Nepal to establish the status of the claimants and to offer repatriation to those with legitimate claims to citizenship of either country.
See History of Bhutan for more information.
- conventional long form: Kingdom of Bhutan
- conventional short form: Bhutan
Data code: BT
Administrative divisions: 20 districts (dzongkhag, singular and plural); Bumthang, Chukha, Dagana, Gasa, Haa, Lhuntse, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatshel, Punakha, Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse, Sarpang, Thimphu, Trashigang, Trashiyangste, Trongsa, Tsirang, Wangduephodrang, Zhemgang
Independence: Never Colonised
Constitution: A constitution is presently being drafted.
note: Bhutan uses 1953 Royal decree for the Constitution of the National Assembly; on 7 July 1998, a Royal edict was ratified giving the National Assembly additional powers and executive powers were also transferred to a council of ministers.
Legal system: The criminal justice system is based on trial before a panel of judges, and therefore resembles more the Napoleonic than the British or American systems. The prosecutor, a government employee, seeks to obtain an acknowledgement of culpability from the accused. If this happens quickly, the sentencing may be lenient. If culpability is obvious but the accused refuses to admit to it, the sentence may be correspondingly severe. Judges may dismiss the case for lack of proof at any time. Recent legislation defines required proof of guilt more closely, providing increased protection against trivial or mistaken charges.
Minor criminal offences may be tried by the dzongda (regional governor) or a local magistrate.
Bhutan has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Suffrage: each individual has one vote in village-level elections
chief of state: King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK (since 24 July 1972)
head of government: Foreign Minister Jigme Yoeser THINLEY (since NA June 1998)
cabinet: Candidates to Council of Ministers (Lhengye Shungtsog) nominated by the monarch, elected by the National Assembly; members serve fixed, five-year terms
note: there is also a Royal Advisory Council (Lodoi Tsokde), members nominated by the monarch
elections: Representatives to the National Assembly and District Representatives are elected by individual residents of the districts; the monarch is hereditary. but democratic reforms in July 1998 give the National Assembly authority to remove the monarch with two-thirds vote
unicameral National Assembly or Tshogdu (150 seats; 105 elected from village constituencies, 10 represent religious bodies, and 35 are designated by the monarch to represent government and other secular interests; members serve three-year terms)
elections: last held NA (next to be held NA)
election results: NA
Judicial branch: the Supreme Court of Appeal is the monarch; High Court, judges appointed by the monarch
Political parties and leaders: no legal parties
Political pressure groups and leaders: Buddhist clergy; ethnic Nepalese organizations leading militant anti-government campaign; Indian merchant community; United Front for Democracy (exiled),
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none; note - Bhutan has a Permanent Mission to the UN; address: 2 United Nations Plaza, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10017; telephone  (212) 826-1919; the Bhutanese mission to the UN has consular jurisdiction in the US
consulate(s) general: New York
Flag description: divided diagonally from the lower hoist side corner; the upper triangle is yellow and the lower triangle is orange; centered along the dividing line is a large black and white dragon facing away from the hoist side
Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.
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