The Election Commission
The Election Commission – EC is the Apex Body with a permanent office headed by the Chief Election Commissioner-CEC along with regular staff members. Whenever there is a vacancy for CEC, the Supreme Justice Commissioner, the Speaker & the deputy Speaker of TPiE and the Kalon Tripa will set up a committee to finalize a name list of candidates. In the list number of candidates should not be less than the double of a CEC to be appointed. The Committee submits the list to the Parliament and appointment of the CEC is done by the Parliament through voting. The candidate who secures maximum number of votes becomes the CEC. If the appointment of CEC is required when the Parliament is not in session, the Standing Committee of the Parliament conducts the election process through voting and the candidate will have to secure two third of votes in favour, from the total strength of the Standing Committee to get CEC elected. Whenever Tibetans go to polls to elect Tibetan MPs and the Kalon Tripa, two Additional Election Commissioners are required and the Parliament appoints the two in the same way as the CEC. The Charter for Tibetans in Exile, makes it clear that the term of the two Additional Election Commissioners is from the “official announcement of the date for commencement of the Tibetan General Election to the declaration of the final results of the Election.”
The Election Commission is empowered to adjudicate any electoral disputes among its Regional Election Offices or direct appeals to the EC to settle disputes. During the General Election, the EC can if necessary, ask the Kashag to cancel transfer of any Regional Election Officers-REOs or a staff at the Office of EC and can also take disciplinary actions against any REO or a staff for non-fulfillment of any electoral duties assigned to the concerned.
Democratic system of government is regarded as the most effective system of governance in most parts of the world, ensuring inalienable rights to exercise freedom by the people it governs. In the case of Tibet, ancient Tibetan kings with their spiritual & political power used to convene annual winter & summer sessions to facilitate wider discussions on major policy issues, thus Tibet had a certain historical base of modern democracy.
In 1642 the great 5th Dalai Lama founded the Gadhen Podhrang Government of Tibet with compassion and altruism as the basis of governance and successive Dalai Lamas made efforts to develop a happy & spiritually oriented society. However, lack of proper education amongst the public became major hindrance for further development of the Tibetan society.
The 13th Dalai Lama had better knowledge of the world at large and he introduced a number of reforms to modernize Tibet, but he encountered problems and did live long to push his reforms further. Then when the formal recognition of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama was completed, he was still a minor when the political situation in Tibet deteriorated with imminent threat of Chinese invasion as Chamdo the capital of Kham had already been occupied by the advancing Chinese forces. In the face of such an alarming situation, Tibetans from all walks of life requested His Holiness to assume the political and spiritual leadership of Tibet which His Holiness accepted at the age of sixteen and immediately initiated measures to calm down the Chinese threat. However, no positive response from the Chinese leadership and situation continue to deteriorate which ultimately led to the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising.
Since the political situation in Lhasa was turning to a point of no return to normal, all His Holiness’ conciliatory efforts exhausted and had no alternatives than to flee to India. Accordingly, in the beginning of 1960 His Holiness addressed a big gathering of Tibetans in Bodh Gaya and asked them to elect their representatives through universal adult suffrage. Then with whatever little knowledge the Tibetan people on modern democracy, Tibetans in exile went to the polls and on September 2nd 1960 the first democratically elected Tibetan Parliamentarians took their solemn oath from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Thereafter, His Holiness circulated a draft democratic constitution for future Tibet to garner opinions and from Tibetan public in exile. Subsequently, the draft was discussed by the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies – present Tibetan Parliament in Exile-TPiE was known at that time. After incorporating necessary opinions, His Holiness on March 10th 1963, promulgated the first Constitution for Future Tibet. As per provisions in the Constitution, His Holiness initiated a number reforms in the composition of Parliamentarians and electoral process to enhance grass root level participation by the Tibetan public in the governance of their Administration in exile the Central Tibetan Administration – CTA.
From 1991 onwards TPiE became the Legislative Organ of CTA, while Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission is the Judiciary Organ and the Kashag, Executive Organ said to be Three Pillars of Democracy. TPiE began to pass laws for the Tibetans in exile and the Charter for Tibetans in Exile is one of the first important legal document passed by the Parliament and approved by His Holiness on May 16th 1991 The Charter among others, provides creation of three Autonomous bodies of CTA and Election Commission is one of them.
CHIEF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS
- Gonshar Dorjee Damdul (April 24, 1991 – April 30, 1996)
- Tsultrim Sangpo (January 01, 1996 – July 30, 1998)
- Tekhang Namgyal Dorjee (July 11, 1998 – August 27, 2004)
- Ngamdrung Tashi Phuntsok (October 05, 2004 – October 04, 2009)
- Deckyi Khangsar Jampel Choesang (October 05, 2009 – 15 September 2014)
- Sonam Choephel Shosur ( 15 September 2014 – Present)
Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamshala – 176215H.P.,
India Tel: +91-1892-223693, 224909
The EC functions in two tier system with the Central Election Commission and Regional Election Offices. Among its responsibilities, to conduct Tibetan General Election-TGE after every five years, election of Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament are more important duties. EC also grants permission and oversees election procedures of Local Assembly members, their Chairperson and the Vice Chair, the Settlement Officer and the assistant, members of the Regional Tibetan Freedom Movement and their Presidents whenever and wherever necessary. Besides, EC will have to conduct a referendum for any issue of national importance which requires a decision through a referendum among the Tibetan people.
The Charter empowers Kalon Tripa to form a Kashag by nominating not more than 7 Kalons & the Kalon Tripa will have to announce the names of the nominees and their detail resume in the Parliament for approval. If a nominee do not get unanimous approval from the Parliament, then the approval will have to go through voting in the Parliament. The concerned nominee will have to get not less than 50 percent of votes in favour, to get a Kalon elected. Thus, the 14th Kashag headed by Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay has six cabinet ministers, if it is necessary he can submit one more Kalon nominee to the Parliament for approval to make the present cabinet a full-fledged.
Tibetans in India, Nepal and Bhutan elect their MPs on the basis of 3 traditional regions of Tibet and the 5 Religious Traditions. The religious traditions are Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug and Bon, while Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang are the three regions of Tibet. The electorates in the Final Election, elect ten MPs from each of the three regions and the clergy electorates elect two MPs each from the five religious traditions. Tibetans in North America and Europe follow one uniform electoral procedure to elect Kalon Tripa & Tibetan MPs. Outside India North America and Europe have the largest number of Tibetans and this is one of the reasons for having two MPs each from the two continents. Thus, the strength of 15th Tibetan Parliament in Exile is 44 elected 44 MPs.