In 2008, the fourth hereditary king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, relinquished his sovereign powers to bestow the system of democracy to the people. Thus, the modern system of secular governance became that of a constitutional monarchy with democratic system of government headed by the Prime Minister. However, the Je-Khenpo is still the head of religious matters. The King is the head of state.
The start of the democracy in the country also saw the Fourth King giving up his throne to his son who became the Fifth King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Like his father the present King assumed the throne at very young age of 28 in 2008. He married his childhood sweetheart Queen Jetsun Pema. They are today settled in a very humble palace at the North of Thimphu city near the grand fortress of Tashichoedzong.
Presently, there are five registered political parties in the country. The first historic election was won by Druk Phunsum Tshogpa (DPT) and governed the country for the first term from 2008 to 2013. The current government is formed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that will government till 2018.
Bhutanese Parliament is the highest lawmaking body in the country. The parliament is composed of two houses namely Upper and Lower Houses. The Upper House which is called the National Council (NC) comprises of 25 members. Twenty of these members represent the 20 districts in the country. The five are the eminent members of the society appointed by the King and represent the King in the council.
The Lower House is called the National Assembly. There are 47 members in this house representing the electoral constituencies in the country. The political party that wins majority seats among these constituencies gets to form the government led by the Prime Minister chosen from the same party by the elected party members. And the party that secures second highest seats becomes the Opposition Party led by the Opposition Leader.
Both the houses play crucial role in making effective laws that will benefit the country and people. Any law must be deliberated in both the houses and secure majority support to be passed until which the law is called a bill. The bill that is passed by both the houses goes to the King to be finally endorsed and becomes the law.
The parliament of Bhutan convenes twice a year: the summer and winter parliament sessions. The summer parliament is conducted during the month of June. And the winter session during the month of December.
Tourists are allowed to witness the parliament upon approval by the National Assembly Secretariat.