By Denzi Yishey
In democratic societies around the world, there often are opinion polls conducted by media, press, political parties, or organizations to measure opinions of their electorates on candidates running for various electable positions such as president, members of parliament, senate, governor, mayor, and other local leaders. Irrespective of whether these opinion polls measure the election result accurately or closely, the opinion poll seems an integral part of many electoral processes. This personal-initiated opinion poll was expected to fill this gap in the final/primary election of the Kalon Tripa (Tibetan Prime Minister).
Purpose of the Study
The primary purpose of this poll, as
with other opinion polls, was to generate statistics based on participants’
inputs/responses. These statistics were expected to help achieve two
First, with growing interest and discussions
on the Kalon Tripa candidates and election, there are some prevailing
assumptions and concerns shared among the general Tibetans (two such
cases noted above). The first goal therefore was to examine the
validity of these assumptions or concerns.
Second, this poll was aimed at providing
an open platform for general Tibetans to share their opinions on the
Kalon Tripa election and candidates.
Based on my earlier experiences of
Opinion Poll on 2011 Kalon Tripa Preliminary Election, a planning
document was shared with
readers on Dec 29, 2010 to improve participations from India and Nepal.
This planning document however resulted in no response from India and
Later, with the help of my Facebook
friends, I finalized on a flier, among the two I created for this online
poll, for distribution to all major Tibetan-concentrated areas across
the globe. Likewise, on Jan 23, 2011, I tested
the survey questionnaire
items with my Facebook friends to ensure the validity of the items.
On the same day, I notified the Election Commissioner, Central Tibetan
Administration, Dharamsala via an email on this personal online poll
Following the testing of survey items
as well as official announcement of the final three candidates by the
Election Commissioner on Jan 19, 2011, I launched the Online Opinion Poll on 2011
Kalon Tripa Final Election
on Jan 26, 2011 with March 10, 2011 as the poll closing date. The poll
duration was stretched to ensure participations from far flung Tibetan-concentrated
areas in India and Nepal. All major announcements, related to this poll,
were published in the Tibetan
Political Review Website,
Post International Website, Phosamosa Website, my Facebook account, and my personal blog. The author did send a publication request
to other major Tibetan news portal but with no success.
A clear information were provided on
the survey launch commentary such as participant’s anonymity, survey
duration, survey link, qualifying participants, closing date, my contact
information as well as the opportunity for one-time participation. This
online survey was designed to read the IP address so that a person using
a computer can only participate once in the poll. This was generally
intended to reduce the duplication of opinions/inputs.
The online poll consisted of 13 questionnaire
items with two qualifiers, four on Kalon Tripa, six on demographic,
and one concluding item. Participants were requested to provide their
personal opinions. Out of the 13 items, one was open-ended. Weekly reminders
were shared to my Facebook friends, and their friends with wall postings.
shots of each questionnaire
items and its raw data can be assessed on my Facebook page.
On the poll closing date March 10,
2011, there were a total of 400 participants. The total male participants
were 288 (73%) as compared to total female participants of 105 (27%).
Seven skipped this item. Majority of the participants were from North
America (198) followed by India (121) and Nepal (30). Surprisingly,
there were 10 participants from Tibet. Of total participants, 77 percent
were in the age range of 18 to 40 and remaining 23 percent were above
40 years of age.
For the two qualifier items, 387 were
Tibetans and 6 non-Tibetan; 352 were registered voters while 41 were
not. Seven participants skipped both these qualifier items.
A total of 56% of participants said
experience, 53% vision, 33% integrity, and 27% trust when asked to select
what best describes their choice of Kalon Tripa for the final election.
Self-reliance with 10% and tried & tested with 18% were the two
that received a lowest number of responses.
As of marital status, 44% were single,
53% married, and only 1% monk or nun. Moreover, a total of 69% of the
participants have at least completed a bachelor’s degree while 32%
were working for private employer or organization, 16% student and 13%
A concluding question, “as a result
of the entire Kalon Tripa electoral process, do you believe we, as a
Tibetan, are more divided now that before?” received 57% “No”,
25% “Yes”, and 18% “Don’t know” responses. Earlier, I wrote
a piece on this response. You can access this piece by clicking on this
Nascent Democracy in Exile: Writers Play Active Role”.
Of the total 400 responses, 341 were
valid. Using statistical software SPSS, the data (341 responses) were
analyzed using descriptic statistics and cross tabulations. Some of
the key findings are described below with the help of charts and a table.
The figure 1 shows that a majority of the participants were male. Also, the support for Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la was higher and evenly spread across both male and female as compared to other two candidates. However, this chart fails to provide opinions of monks and nuns who shares significant vote counts in the Tibetan diaspora. For your information, in the above and following figures, green bar indicates a number of responses for Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la, blue for Lobsang Sangay la, beige for Tashi Wangdi la, and pink for undecided voters.
The figure 2 provides information on
the number of responses each Kalon Tripa candidates received from several
major locations. It was clear that a majority of the participants were
from North America followed by India and Nepal. The high-rise green
bar on North America and India indicates that the Tibetan electorates
in these two locations prefer Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la as the next
Kalon Tripa. In other locations, blue and green bar were spread across
in proportion. However, the possibility of a skewed result cannot be
denied in this chart (and study) as the largest Tibetan electorates
still resides in India.
The figure 3 depicts the total number
of responses each Kalon Tripa candidates received based on participants’
age. Of the total participants, 77% were in the age range of 18 to 40
and only 27% were above 40. This is understandable with an online opinion
poll which tends to favors the younger generation who are savvier towards
internet and computers. This chart helped to answer one of the common
assumptions i.e., younger generations support Lobsang Sangay la. However,
the study and above chart showed no evidence to support this assumption.
Table 1 shows the result of a cross
tabulation analysis that helps to examine differences in participants’
change of Kalon Tripa candidate’s choice with that of their earlier
choice in the preliminary election. This table may be one of the key
findings of this study that helps to provide some understanding on the
effects of campaigns, among others.
From the table, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong
la gained votes while Lobsang Sangay lost some. A total of 118 participants
voted for Lobsang Sangay la in the preliminary election while only 86
chose him for the final election. Similarly, 114 for Tenzin Namgyal
Tethong la for preliminary while 179 chose him for the final election;
39 for Tashi Wangdi la for preliminary while 61 chose him for the final
election. It seems clear that Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la gained the most
of votes followed by slight gains for Tashi Wangdi la. However, Lobsang
Sangay la lost the most votes to other two candidates.
Let’s take a look at details on “who
gained what” by matching participants’ preliminary choice of Kalon
Tripa candidates with that of their final choice. As for Tenzin Namgyal
Tethong la, he gained 36 votes from Lobsang Sangay la, 19 from “who
did not vote” in the preliminary election, 10 from others, 9 from
Tashi Wangdi la, and 2 each from Gyari Dolma la and Penpa Tsering la
while losing only 13 (114-101) from his total count of preliminary
As for Lobsang Sangay la, he gained
9 votes from “who did not vote” in the preliminary election, 4 from
Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la, 3 from Penpa Tsering la, 2 from Gyari Dolma
la, and 1 from Tashi Wangdi la while losing 51 (118-67) from
his total count of preliminary votes.
Finally, as for Tashi Wangdi la, he
gained 12 votes from Lobsang Sangay la, 7 from Tenzin Namgyal Tethong
la, 6 from others, 4 from “who did not vote”, 2 from Penpa Tsering
la, and 1 from Gyari Dolma la while losing only 10 (39-29) from
his total count of preliminary votes. This gain for Tashi Wangdi la
provides an evidence for another assumptions i.e., Tashi Wangdi la will
split Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la votes. However, Tashi Wangdi la gained
more of Lobsang Sangay la’s votes (12) as compared to Tenzin Namgyal
la’s votes (7).
In addition to the above three figures
and a table, none of the other analysis provides new or different understanding
on the general Tibetan opinions. Throughout the analyses, it was clear
that the support for Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la was uniform and spread
evenly across the scales.
Finally, an open-ended question was
asked to participants asking for additional comments on 2011 Kalon Tripa
final election, candidates, or campaigns. Patterns and themes were examined
on a total of 111 responses. Excluding the general comments, some of
the common patterns and themes were: the need of experience; the push
for change; concerns for negative campaigning and character assassinations;
and calls for province-less or sectarian-less election. Three comments
were directed to the Election Commission: simplification of the voter
registration process; consideration of Tibetan voters in Nepal; and
the need of extra security in all the polling booths. It was not clear
what it means by extra security.
Limitations of the Study
Online surveys are not without limitations.
Some major limitations of this online opinion poll are:
Discussion and Conclusion
Despite the limitations, the study
succeeded in providing useful information on the general opinions of
the Tibetan electorates concerning the Kalon Tripa election and candidates.
A brief closing analysis of each Kalon Tripa candidates is provided
for better connection to the study’s purpose.
Tenzin Namgyal Tethong
He is clearly the winner of this opinion
poll. It is however not clear if his win in this poll was a result of
his campaigns that started after the preliminary election. The poll’s
finding suggests his success in gaining votes. However, the margin of
gains, from his preliminary vote counts of 12,314, needs to be seen.
To conclude, he seems to have emerged out of the preliminary election
as an opponent to a close contender to Lobsang Sangay la in the final
The findings from this poll are definitely
a concern for Lobsang Sangay la. He lost a large count of votes to other
two candidates while gaining a little. The poor show of Lobsang Sangay
la in this poll begs a question on his later campaigns. Or is it because
of the campaigns from the other two candidates? The effect of lost votes
on Lobsang Sangay la can only be known on the day of the election results.
However, Lobsang Sangay la’s loss of votes may provide a close race
between Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la and him in the final election.
Though he gained voters’ supports
in this poll, the gains were not significant enough to count him as
a contender for the next Kalon Tripa. His total votes in the preliminary
election were 2,101. However, it needs to be seen how his presence as
the third candidate will influence the final voting tally of the two
A total number of registered voters
were around 82,000. By assuming 75% voter turnouts on the Election Day,
the total voters may be around 61,500. As per the electoral rules, any
candidates should have at least 33.4% of the total votes to win the
election, which means a total of at least 20,541 votes to win. This
winning number begs several questions such as will Lobsang Sangay la’s
preliminary votes of 22,489 enough to win the final election? Or will
Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la gains enough votes to reach this magic number?
Or will Tashi Wangdi la play a major role in who wins this election?
On a final note, this poll succeeded
in presenting what it was intended for i.e., to generate statistics
based on participants’ inputs or responses. However, the accuracy
or legitimacy of the study’s findings can be known only on the day
of the Kalon Tripa final election’s result announcement.
This online opinion poll was made possible
with helps from several dedicated individuals. First, I would like to
thank the Tibetan Political Review, The Tibet Post International, and
the Phosamosa.com for providing space on their Websites for the poll.
Second, I am thankful to my Facebook friends who provided valuable suggestions
and supports for this poll especially with the flier postings. Finally,
to all the participants - without you, I would not have this final poll
study is written purely based on the participant’s inputs and responses.
The author (or the survey administrator) has no affiliation with any
of the Kalon Tripa candidates. Neither do the author endorse any of
them. The author tried to be as short and
objective as possible throughout the analysis. Further
analyses of the results are more than