The Tibet government in exile is about to have their elections soon. Tibetans staying around the world would go to India (correct? or can they vote in their countries too?) and would vote for their top political leader (Sikyong in Tibetan) and members of the Exile Tibetan Parliament. It seems it might not be legally allowed for the people staying at Tibet, but is it allowed in theory? So, my two questions are- is the voting center only in India and who are eligible to vote? Let's say there might be other non-Tibetan people who fled from Tibet or are staying in Tibet.

3 Answers 3


According to a NYT article about the 2016 election

A democratic election for a people without a country is a complicated affair, with voting in more than 40 locations in India, and dozens more around the globe. Registered voters number about 88,000, fewer than in most mayoral elections in the United States.

According to a 2016 paper by academics from the Central University of Himachal Pradesh:

TiGE represents over 1,22,000 [sic] Tibetans living exile, perceives itself as the de jure representative of Tibetans [...]

The whole Tibetan population spread world over is organized into small settlements. The settlements are governed by the Local Assembly. Article 78(1) of the Charter of Tibetans-in-Exile has the provision for establishment of Local Assembly in a community having a population of not less than 160. [...]

Voter registration is done at settlement level. Every Tibetan, above the age of 18 years has to voluntarily register himself with nearby settlement office and has to obtain the Green Book. The Green Book is the basic identity proof which has to be produced at the polling station while casting vote.

There are approximately 6 million Tibetans living in China who cannot vote in TiGE elections.

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    I'm not sure if you added the [sic] to the quotation or not, but you may be interested in the Indian numbering system (see Use of Separators section), which puts separators every two digits (except the first three), giving a number like 1,23,45,67,890. I can't confirm the quotation is correct, but I also can't dismiss it out of hand. Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 2:24
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    @JoelHarmon: I've added the "[sic]", so that those not familiar with the notation would not think it is a typo. Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 2:35

The Charter of the Tibetans in exile guarantees equal rights to all Tibetans

Charter guarantees to all Tibetans equality before the law and enjoyment of rights and freedom without discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, language and social origin.

The CTA defines a Tibetan as

"any person born in Tibet, or any person with one parent who was born in Tibet"

So, possibly every Tibetan may vote subject to the fulfilment of the eligibility conditions. They must have registered and paid the green book dues.

As per the provisions of Article 18 (4), any Tibetan citizen who completed 18 years of age on 31st October 2020 are eligible to register. 

Tibetans don't have to come to India to vote. They can do it in their own places. I'm not so sure about these centres though. The best I could find was about the previous election results page which says

A total of 59,353 Tibetans voted at 85 locations around the world.


The problem when you talk about "legal" for something like that is the question of jurisdiction. International law assumes that nations are sovereign, but there is no clear mechanism to define when a group-pretending-to-be-a-nation becomes an actual nation.

  • The Chinese government assumes that Tibet is part of China.
  • Some Tibetian exiles dispute that.
  • By and large, the world community accepts Chinese sovereignty over China and at the same time gives asylum and recognition to Tibetian exiles. Not a very consistent position.

So when people currently in Tibet want to vote for the exile government, they have to deal with the Chinese government. Which cracks down on separatism.

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