By Tenzin Dharpo
Dharamsala, August 3: With the deadline for registration for the 2016 Tibetan elections just ten days away the political climate in exile communities have charged up as candidates declare their running and supporters preparing for campaigning.
Unlike the institutionally endorsed and establishment based campaigning earlier, candidates have over grown the bounds and sought for more personalized and more aggressive campaigning models with multiple press conferences, open public debates, rallying within the exile community and most significantly, the employment of digital platforms and social networking sites such as Facebook and Youtube.
Chemi Youngdung , the Director at Tibetan Social Service, has used Facebook to connect with the electorate with whom he communicates directly through posts, even asking his supporters their opinion on his photograph to go with campaign materials.
Chime, who is running for U-Tsang member of Parliament seat, refers to the shift in campaign culture as an indication of the Tibetan people’s adoption of technology and mainstream practicalities to their advantage. “ The vibrant culture of campaigning that is evident today is a necessity to stay abreast to the need of the time, nearly every Tibetan has a phone that can be accessed with campaign information. The days of distributing pamphlets and putting up posters are numbered; almost all of the candidates this time around have used social networking sites in one way or the other. Such practices will only grow in the future,” said Chime.
A significant change this time around compared to past elections is the emergence of young candidates for the 16th Tibetan parliament in Exile roster. The emergence of youth in the political arena is lauded by some sections of the community. However, lack of experience and learnedness with regards to inadequacy to hold such “responsibility bound” roles is also a concern expressed by some.
Lhakpa Tsering, who is also contesting for the U-Tsang seat and also one of the youngest candidates in the upcoming elections, have put agendas such as governance devoid of regionalism and promotion of cultural, social, health and political endeavors through theatre arts as his distinguishing facet. He told Phayul that youth in the politics will be a positive change. “Emergence of youth in politics is an embodiment of our valid self belief and confidence, more importantly our sense of service and duty that has come of age. The old can take rest and pass the baton on to abler and younger hands. I belief that the right balance of youth and age can further the cause of Tibet in the right direction. The young can learn from the veterans and we can move forward together”.
The 2016 general elections will elect the Tibetan PM (Sikyong) of the 15th Kashag and members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament in exile.
The preliminary elections are slated for October 18, 2015 and the final election for March 20, 2016.