Postcard: Bhutan

The remote kingdom holds its first-ever elections, sparking concerns about what political change will bring. Balancing democracy with happiness in the Himalayas

Sumit Dayal / Sipa

Voters line up at a polling station in the Punaka province of Bhutan.

Change is a word often used at election time, but in Bhutan you can sense it at every political meeting and on every door-knocking drive. In the run-up to the country's first-ever general election on March 24, voters and politicians had to figure out how democracy works and, more important, how to import the concept without hurting their traditions. A few weeks ago, in Khuruthang, a town in the verdant Punakha Valley, workers from the People's Democratic Party--the older (at just over a year) of Bhutan's two main parties--pitched a tent in the courtyard of the town's temple. Buddhism is central...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!