Bhutan’s Democratic Consolidation (2008-2018): Challenges and Outlook
The British Academy / Leverhulme
This project analyses one of the most researched political systems in the world (democracy) in one of the least studied parts of the world (Bhutan). Bhutan underwent a peaceful and unique transition to parliamentary democracy in 2008; voluntarily initiated by its monarch at a time when a popular referendum on the desirability of such a transition would have failed. Adopting a subaltern political perspective (small states upwards), the project will focus on the 2018 elections and evaluate the trajectory of democratic consolidation. The last decade has been marked by changes in both the Bhutanese political landscape and the strategic compulsions of its neighbours, India and China. The 2018 elections will be a unique opportunity to evaluate the effects of non-traditional democratisation in a society emerging into modernity. This project will adopt a mixed methods qualitative methodology in order to investigate evolving institutions, discourses and culture in politics.