The exile Tibetan communities around the world gathered on Sunday, October 18, 2015 to take part in the first stage of an election process that will determine the next Tibetan leadership in exile – including the Sikyong or Prime Minister and members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament in exile. The elections are overseen by the Tibetan election Commission, an independent institution whose responsibilities includes supervising the elections and providing guidelines to the candidates as well as the voting public.
The Dalai Lama first introduced the democratic election system for the Tibetan Parliament in exile in 1960. Since 2002, Tibetans also began electing the Kalon Tripa or Chair of the Tibetan Cabinet. In 2011, after further developments in the devolution of political authority by the Dalai Lama to the elected leadership, the Kalon Tripa position was renamed as Sikyong. The current Sikyong, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, was elected in the 2011 general elections.
The elections on Sunday were a first step in the electoral process and the final general elections are scheduled to take place on March 20, 2016. Tibetan exiles took pride in their participation in this democratic system, sharing news and photographs of the elections in their region on social media. Posted below are some of election photographs from Tibetan diaspora communities around the globe.