A panel discussion to coincide with the 55th anniversary of Tibetan Democracy DayThe next six months are an important period for Tibetan democracy in exile. General elections are upcoming in the horizon (March 2016) and the preliminary elections will be held in October 2015. So far, there are already numerous individuals putting their names forth for the position of the Tibetan Political leader and for seats in the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
Tibetan democracy in exile has seen much development since the introduction of election system to the Tibetan Parliament in 1960. In 2002, Tibetans began to elect the Kalon Tripa (the Chairman of the Tibetan Cabinet) by popular vote. In 2011 there were further developments with the devolution of political authority by the Dalai Lama to the elected Tibetan leadership and the Kalon Tripa position was renamed as Sikyong. Tibetans in exile from around the world have participated in these elections. The elections are overseen by the Tibetan Election Commission, an independent institution whose primary responsibility includes supervising elections and providing guidelines to candidates as well as to the voting public.
What happens during the Tibetan elections and how does this fit into the Tibetan experiment with democracy? Speaking in more detail on the process, and issues that the prospective candidates might be facing in the upcoming elections will be Mr. Tenzin Tethong, former Kalon Tripa of the Central Tibetan Administration & current Director of Radio Free Asia, and discussing the election system from an observer’s point of view will be Mr. Matteo Mecacci, President of ICT, who lead a parliamentary election observation group as co-chair of the International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (InPAT) during the last Tibetan election season.
Mr. Tenzin N Tethong is the Director of Tibetan Service, Radio Free Asia (RFA). During the course of over 40 years of public service, he served as the Chairman of Kashag for two terms and as the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in North America. Mr.Tethong has been an instrumental and integral part of varied key Tibet initiatives and organizations in exile. He is one of the founder father of Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest Tibetan organization; Tibetan review, the largest Tibetan English news magazine; The Tibet Fund and the Tibet House in New York; Chairman of the Dalai Lama Foundation and Committee of 100 Lawyers for Tibet in California; founding Director of ICT in Washington, DC; and as a visiting scholar at Stanford University just before joining RFA.
Matteo Mecacci, is President of the International Campaign for Tibet. Born in Firenze (Florence) Italy, Matteo Mecacci, studied International law at the University of Firenze. He represented the Transnational Radical Party and No Peace without Justice at the UN in New York from 2001 to 2008 and later served as a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies as well as an elected official of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. In that capacity he participated in over 20 election observation missions, including as OSCE Special Coordinator in Serbia and Belarus in 2012. He was appointed head of mission of the OSCE/ODHIR election observation mission in Georgia in 2013. He served as Chairperson of the Italian Parliamentary Intergroup for Tibet, and in 2009, he organized the 5th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet in Rome. He was Co-chair of the International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPaT) and played an active role in promoting Tibetan democracy in exile, and was a Co-Chair of the Tibetan Election Observation Mission in 2011.