The political system of Bhutan is a multi-party system at the primary level, and thereafter, the two parties getting the maximum votes will contest the general elections to the National Assembly. This ensures a stable government in Parliament, chosen of the most preferred from a multi-party system at the primary level. This structure avoids the tyranny of two-party system. This is unique to the Constitution of Bhutan.
The selection of the constitutional heads is done by the Prime Minister, Speaker, the Opposition Leader, and the Chief Justice.
There is a provision for an interim government, whereby before every election the interim will ensure smooth day-to-day operations but does not have the power to decide on policies. Whenever the National Assembly is dissolved, the Interim Government is appointed by the Druk Gyalpo to function for a period not exceeding ninety days. The Interim Government is appointed within fifteen days of the dissolution of the National Assembly and consists of a Chief Advisor and other Advisors. The Chief Justice of Bhutan is appointed as the Chief Advisor. The Interim Government ceases to exist from the date of new Prime Minister takes over the office.
The government should be formed within ninety days from the date of resolution of the National Assembly.
His Majesty the King is the head of State.
As enshrined in the Article 20 – The Executive of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, the Government as the executive branch, is mandated as follows:
- The Government shall protect and strengthen the sovereignty of the Kingdom, provide good governance, and ensure peace, security, well-being, and happiness of the people
- The Executive Power is vested in the Lhengye Zhungtshog, the Cabinet, which consists of the Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. The number of Ministers shall be determined by the number of Ministries required to provide efficient and good governance. Creation of an additional ministry or reduction of any ministry shall be approved by Parliament. Ministries shall not be created for the purpose of appointing Ministers
Currently, there are ten ministers in the cabinet. The cabinet ministers represent Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, and Ministry of Works and Human Settlement.
As head of the cabinet, the Prime Minister is responsible to keep the Druk Gyalpo informed from time to time about the affairs of the State, including international affairs, and submit such information and files as called for by the Druk Gyalpo.
The Lhengye Zhungtshog should function to aid and advise the Druk Gyalpo in the exercise His functions including international affairs, provided that the Druk Gyalpo may require the Lhengye Zhungtshog to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise. Additionally, the Lhengye Zhungtshog is mandated to:
- Assess the state of affairs arising from developments in the State and society and from events at home and abroad;
- Define the goals of State action and determine the resources required to achieve them;
- Plan and coordinate government policies and ensure their implementation; and
- Represent the Kingdom at home and abroad
- Promote an efficient civil administration based on the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan
- Be collectively responsible to the Druk Gyalpo and to Parliament
Ministries and agencies under the ministries are responsible for implementing the policies.
Power and authority are decentralized to elected Local Governments to facilitate the direct participation of the people in the development and management of social, economic and environmental well-being of the citizens. Twenty Dzongkhags have Local Governments comprising of Dzongkhag Tshogdu, Gewog Tshogde, and Thromde Tshogde. The normal term of Dzongkhag Tshogdu, Gewog Tshogde and Thromde Tshogde is five years. The Local Government is supported by the Government in the development of administrative, technical and managerial capacities and structures that are responsive, transparent and accountable.
The Objectives of the Local Government are:
- Provide democratic and accountable government for local communities;
- Ensure the provisions of services to communities in a sustainable manner;
- Encourage the involvement of communities and community organizations in matters of local governance; and
- Discharge any other responsibilities as may be prescribed by law made by the Parliament
Local Governments are supported by administrative machinery staffed by civil servants. Dzongdag functions as the chief executive of a Dzongkhag supported by civil servants. The Dzongdag cannot have political affiliation is responsible to discharge responsibilities in the interest of the people and the country. In large municipalities, Thrompon functions are the head supported by civil servants.
All legislative Powers are vested with the Parliament of Bhutan. The Parliament consists of the Druk Gyalpo, the National Council, and the National Assembly. The parliament is mandated to ensure that the Government safeguards the interests of the nation and fulfills the aspirations of the people through the public review of policies and issues, Bills and other legislations. The members of the parliament are elected in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Laws.
The National Council, the upper House of the Parliament, consists of twenty-five members comprising:
- One member elected by the voters in each of the twenty Dzongkhags; and
- Five eminent persons nominated by the Druk Gyalpo
Candidate for the National Council should have any affiliation with any of the political parties.