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Politics in Bhutan

The politics of Bhutan, like all nations, has a rich and complex history. From the days of self-imposed isolationism to the modern era of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, Bhutan has undergone significant change. However, one thing has remained constant: the people of Bhutan have always sought to be guided by the principles of justice and equality.

Courtesy: National Assembly of Bhutan

In the early days of Bhutan's history, external relations and foreign policies were put under British control through the 1910 Treaty of Punakha. But the Bhutanese people, through their policy of isolationism, were able to limit the impact of this treaty and maintain their autonomy.

In 1947, India gained its independence and Bhutan and India entered into a ten-article, perpetual treaty which continued their relationship, but with India taking the place of the United Kingdom. This treaty recognized Bhutan's sovereignty and self-rule while maintaining friendly relations between the two nations. But even with this treaty, there were lingering doubts about Bhutan's true independent status.

Bhutanese delegates signing the Treaty of Friendship with Indian delegates at Government House in Darjeeling in 1947 after India gained Independence. Courtesy: Dakinitranslations

But in February 2007, the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty was substantially revised and all references to phrases such as "will be guided" were removed, thus eliminating the last lingering doubts about Bhutan's sovereign and independent status. This was a significant step forward for Bhutan and its people, as it affirmed their right to self-determination and self-rule.

Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty, 2007. Courtesy: gktoday

The government of Bhutan, like all nations, is made up of three main branches: the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The Constitution of Bhutan provides for a government consisting of these three branches plus the de facto apolitical Dratshang Lhentshog (Monastic Affairs Commission) of the Drukpa Kagyu state religion. The secular and religious branches of government are unified in the person of the Druk Gyalpo (King of Bhutan).

On October 21, 2019, Prime Minister Abe held a bilateral talk with the King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck at the Guest House Akasaka Palace. Courtesy:

However, the trichotomy of secular government is not absolute. There are many independent commissions, agencies, and institutions that operate outside this general framework, such as the Royal Monetary Authority and Election Commission.

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