By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 29 October 2020
Ballot papers arrived today at the Tibetan Election Commission, with the preliminary round of the Tibetan elections approaching in about two months. Exile Tibetans will be voting for their top political leader (Sikyong in Tibetan) and members of the Exile Tibetan Parliament.
Since the announcement of the 2021 elections in early August, exile Tibetans around the world have been vigorously campaigning to elect a political leader who could stabilise the divided exile Tibetan community and lead the Free Tibet movement seeking autonomy for Tibet through a negotiated settlement with China. Also people are looking for a leader who would look after the welfare of Tibetans, particularly in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and to provide jobs for unemployed youth, shelter for new arrivals from Tibet, and better care for the aged in old people’s homes.
The preliminary round to nominate the candidates will be held on 3 January, followed by the final round on 11 April to elect a new Sikyong and 45 members of Parliament.
The three provinces of Tibet — Amdo, Kham, and U-Tsang — will have ten members each in the Parliament, elected from India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The five religious groups will have two members each. Two will come from North/South America, two from Europe, and one from Australasia (excluding India, Nepal, and Bhutan).
Any Tibetan above 18 years of age holding a Green Book showing tax payment to the CTA are eligible to exercise the voting franchise. However, the Green Book must have been registered to vote, and the last day to register is till mid-day 30th October.
Voters will have two ballots — one for the Sikyong election and the other for members of Parliament. However, the monastic community — monks and nuns — will have an extra ballot to elect members to represent their respective religious groups.
After screening the eligibility of the candidates and receiving approval to run for elections, the EC will announce the finalists for the second round. For the Sikyong post, only the top two from the preliminary round will be announced as candidates.
In case of the three provinces, the EC will announce the final 20 candidates for each province, to elect ten each. There will be four candidates each for the five religious groups. Similarly, four each will be announced for North/South America, and Europe, to elect two members each. Australasia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan) will have two choices, to elect one member.
The preliminary round ballot paper for voters from India, Nepal, and Bhutan had confused people in the past. As two seats are reserved for ladies, and the space to write their names is printed under the first eight names, they had to forgo two male candidates as their choice of female candidates had already been written at the top.
Although the first eight could be of any gender, the bottom two are reserved only for female candidates. There’s no limit for ladies’ names, as all ten members of Parliament could be female.
Voting can be done at any location, as long as one has registered to vote. But if someone is coming from Europe or North America to India, they can vote only for Sikyong, not for their members of Parliament, as it depends on the country of their residence/Green Book payment.
Counting of the votes will take place the day after the voting. Ballot boxes will remain untouched for the next day. The counting will start the day after, and then the result will be announced within 24 hours after counting is finished.
The local Election Commission will do the counting and they will announce the result at their respective locality. But the Chief Election Commission will announce the final result on 14 May.