With one year to go for the next Tibetan general elections, interest is warming up as promotional materials are already being seen on social media.

The current 15th Cabinet of the Central Tibetan Administration led by Lobsang Sangay will complete its term in the end of April 2021.

Sangay won the 2016 elections over his rival Penpa Tsering by a margin of 9,012 votes, or 15% of the total 59,353 votes cast by Tibetans at 85 locations around the world.

Wangdu Tsering, the Chief Election Commissioner of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), told Tibet Sun that the dates for the next elections are not yet fixed. According to election rules, the first round will have to be held by November 2020.

“There’s a certain procedure. Two additional commissioners will be appointed, after which the election process will be decided,” Tsering said.

He explained that a few amendments have been made to the election process in electing both the CTA President and the members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. The most important change is that no campaigning for any candidate will be allowed by any associations or NGOs.

Another major change is the shortened campaigning time from six to three months between the preliminary and the final rounds of voting.

In the case of the post of president, there’s a big change in the rule, that if a candidate secures more than 60% of the votes in the preliminary round, that person will be declared elected, without having to hold a final round of election.

Should a final round be required, the Election Commission could propose from six to two candidates as the final candidates.

As a democratic system, Tibetans in exile who are 18 years and older can exercise the suffrage. They elect the CTA President, as well as the 45 members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. Tibetans in India, Nepal, and Bhutan choose 10 members each from their respective province: Amdo, Kham, or U-Tsang. Out of ten seats in each province, two seats each are reserved for women.

Monks and nuns, in addition to the provincial elections, choose two representatives from their respective religious schools: Bon, Gelug, Kagyu, Nyingma, or Sakya. Residents of Australasia (excluding India, Nepal, and Bhutan) elect one, and Tibetans in Europe and North America elect two representatives each.

It is widely expected that the main contest for the post of president will be between Penpa Tsering, former Speaker of Parliament and former Representative of the Dalai Lama to Washington DC; and Gyari Dolma, former member of Parliament and former Minister of Home, CTA.

The newly-elected head of CTA and members of Parliament will take their oaths of office at the end of May 2021.