The form of government in Bhutan is as unique as the country. Bhutan’s first national elections in March 2008 marked the country’s shift from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. It is one of the only democratic (or constitutional) monarchies in the world.

The first move towards a systematic scheme of governance came in 1616 with the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal from Tibet. He created the office of the Druk Desi to look after the temporal administration of the country and the Je Khenpo to manage religious matters. But a major breakthrough came about in 1907 when the people unanimously enthroned Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary King of Bhutan. He was the man who had proved his mettle bringing together the different Dzongpons and Penlops (governors of fortress) and the much needed stability and peace in the country. Since then, the country was ruled by the successive monarchs under the Wangchuck dynasty.

In November 2001, on the advice of the Fourth king, a committee chaired by the Chief Justice of Bhutan, was formed to draft the constitution of Bhutan. The constitution was launched in 2008 and with it a parliamentary democracy introduced. 2008 was a historic year for the kingdom of Bhutan, HM King Jigme Singye Wangchuk abdicated to make way for his eldest son, Crown Prince Jigme Kesar Namgyel, to become the fifth monarch of Bhutan. The new constitution was put into place, and the first elections in the country’s history held in 2008.