BRIDGE Stakeholders Workshop in Bhutan

What does it mean in an electoral context to be a stakeholder? This question was posed to the group gathered for the BRIDGE Stakeholders Module in Thimphu from 21-25 November 2011.

What does it mean in an electoral context to be a stakeholder? This question was posed to the group gathered for the BRIDGE Stakeholders Module in Thimphu from 21-25 November 2011.

The workshop participants were from a diverse range of work backgrounds but quickly came to understand that we are all stakeholders in the electoral process in Bhutan.

Wikipedia tells us: “The term stakeholder, as traditionally used in the English language… in law… and notably gambling…is a third party who temporarily holds money or property while its owner is still being determined.” You could argue that this still applies. We…the stakeholders….hold the future of democracy in Bhutan in our hands.

The Stakeholders Workshop merged a number of BRIDGE modules to suit the needs of this particular group of participants who were drawn from the Electoral Commission of Bhutan, Local Government agencies, the media, political parties and civil society.

The BRIDGE modules merged for this workshop included Media, Contestants and Access. The training was conducted by Expert Facilitator, Cate Thompson, AEC, Gordon Marshall, Workshop Facilitator AEC and Kinley, Workshop Facilitator, ECB. Kibu Zangpo, Election Officer, ECB also co-facilitated this workshop and received his full accreditation as a BRIDGE workshop facilitator. Congratulations Kibu and welcome to the BRIDGE family!

This workshop forms part of a program of BRIDGE to be conducted in Bhutan across 2011, 2012 and 2013. The long-term objective of the program is to strengthen the capacity of the ECB so it can continue to conduct credible and effective elections in a transparent, democratic governance environment.

One of the goals of the workshop was to expose participants to other stakeholders in the electoral process and gain a better understanding of each other’s work and priorities. The workshop explored strategies for building productive working relationships between ECB staff and the media and looked at collaboration and networking opportunities for other potential partner organisations.

Participants were very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and creative. This workshop also conducted a range of topical debates among the participants and participant feedback indicated these debates were very well received and thought provoking.

Participants’ comments included:

“Very enjoyable and useful, got to learn many things, as just a single step to a journey of a thousand miles.” “Learnt to bring stakeholders on board to conduct elections that will meet everyone’s expectations.” “Thank you for including “media” as a part of BRIDGE. The role that the media plays is very crucial and today all of us shared our views on it, reminding us of the importance. Loving the workshop.” “Creating the party and its strategies was awesome, I love it.” “It’s not just the voters, but electoral systems that dictates election results.”

Kinley also commented: “BRIDGE is successful because it bridges the gap between different stakeholders in elections for the success of democracy.”

The workshop was graciously opened by Electoral Commissioner, Aum Deki Pema, and closed by the Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi.

Participants and facilitators alike look forward with enthusiasm to the continuing series of BRIDGE activities to come! The future of democracy in Bhutan is looking bright.

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