Preliminary voting results pit incumbent PM in the lead
By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 21: The vote counts of the preliminary elections for the Tibetan PM (Sikyong) and 16th Tibetan Parliament held last Sunday have put the incumbent Tibetan Prime Minister firmly ahead of his four contenders in the race for the highest office of the Tibetan polity.
The Harvard graduate leads the preliminary polls by a margin of a few thousand votes from his closest contender the incumbent Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament Penpa Tsering.
The other three candidates have managed to rack inconsequential figures as of now. The official vote count of the preliminary polls will be announced in December by the Tibetan Election Commission.
As per latest reports of counting from over 30 different places of Tibetan habitat, Sangay leads with 9304 votes, trailed by Penpa Tsering with 3489 votes.
Lobsang Sangay has emerged victorious in all but one constituency (Tata Nagar in Jharkhand state) where Speaker Penpa Tsering had won. Places such as Bhandhara, Bir, Chauntra, Dehra Dun, Kathmandu and Pokhara have voted overwhelmingly for the current Sikyong with margins of 65% and upwards. In places like Tashi Jong and Chauntra, both at close proximity, the only candidate supporting Independence (Rangzen) for Tibet Lukar Jam Atsok has come second. Gyari Dolma, the serving Kalon (cabinet minister) of Home Department has secured 19 votes even though she isn’t running for the highest office.
The Election Commission announced on Oct 19, a day after the preliminary election has taken place, the amended rules of the ‘eligibility of Sikyong candidates for the finals’ that funnels top Sikyong candidates on to the final elections. The amendments and especially the timing of the announcements has become a much talked about issue in the social media sites and among exile Tibetans.
Tenzin Nyinjey, a researcher with the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said, “I can't say it's deliberate, but keeping Lukar Jam out, that's what the amended rules have done, is a blow to democracy. Because, without him and his arguments for independence, there shall be no serious debate in the finals, since both likely candidates - Lobsang Sangay and Penpa Tsering- are middle pathists. Moreover, the fact that election commission in 2011 allowed the third candidate - Tashi Wangdi, a middle pathist in the previous Katri election, makes me wonder if the reason for keeping out Lukar was due to his political stand. After all, in 2011 the margin of votes between Tashi Wangdi and Tenzin Tethong was a lot more than 20 percent”.
In the Member of the Parliament elections, many voters have cast incomplete votes since many of them could not recall the ‘place of the origin’ or ‘place of residence’ of their candidates on their ballots. A resident of McLeod Ganj and an ‘incomplete voter’ who doesn’t wish to be named said, “It just reflects the irresponsibility at the voters end. These are details that I should have known after all I am appointing these people to important positions”.
The EC, however, told Phayul that it will consider counting the ballots with such missing information.