Gelephu Project: Bhutan's Election & Economic Revival

  Dec 21, 2023

Gelephu Project and Economic Revival: Key Issues in Bhutan's Elections


Gelephu Project: Announced by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, this megacity project aims to be an economic hub on Bhutan’s southern border with Assam.

Economic Challenges: The project and reviving Bhutan’s economy are major tasks for the next Prime Minister after the January 9 elections.

Election Contenders:

Tshering Tobgay: Former Prime Minister, representing the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), focusing on reversing youth migration and revitalizing the economy.

Pema Chewang: Former civil servant, leading the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP), emphasizing support for the Gelephu project.

Project Significance:

Economic and Social Impact: Gelephu is seen as key to providing employment and skilling opportunities in Bhutan, reducing youth migration.

Regional Importance: The project is viewed as beneficial not just for Bhutan but for all of South Asia.

Economic Context:

PostCOVID Recovery: Bhutan’s economy was hit hard by the pandemic, leading to youth outmigration due to lack of opportunities.

Inflation Concerns: Voters express worries about inflation and economic stability.

Political Dynamics:

Election Trends: Bhutanese elections have historically seen incumbents voted out, with surprises in the second rounds.

PDP’s Current Lead: PDP is ahead in the polls, but past trends suggest potential for unexpected outcomes.

Geopolitical Factors:

King’s Involvement: The King’s endorsement indicates the project’s continuity regardless of political changes.

International Relations: Bhutan’s relations with India and China, especially concerning investments and border demarcation, are crucial for the project’s success.


The Gelephu project, along with economic revival, forms the crux of Bhutan's upcoming elections, reflecting broader concerns about youth employment, economic stability, and regional cooperation.



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