Astrologers decide Bhutan poll dates

Thimpu, Bhutan - Though Bhutan has kept religion completely out of its democratisation process, it has left some space for astrology to play a role in setting a date for elections to the National Assembly (Lower House).

"To a certain extent, we do believe in it (looking for auspicious moments with the help of astrologers). But this is not going to be the only overriding factor," said election commissioner Diki Pema on Tuesday. "We have clear legal provisions about how and when to have elections," she added.

As an age-old practice, people in the Buddhist kingdom usually consult astrologers or oracles whenever they begin an important work. In June last, a royal decree identified the months for holding elections to the National Council (Upper House) and the National Assembly, but it did not set any dates. It chose December and February/March for holding polls to the two Houses.

The council elections were conducted on Monday, which also marked the second anniversary of the election commission. Reports said the poll panel would fix the date for the assembly polls after speaking to experts from the Thimpu-based Institute of Astrology.