By Tenzin Yeshi
University of Wyoming
Introduction and Background
The Kalon Tripa election generated a never-before hype, interest, and discussion within the Tibetan electorates, who are spread across the globe. The growth of the first phase of online opinion poll on 2011 Kalon Tripa final election is the result of one such personal interest.
The primary purpose of this online poll, as with other opinion polls, is to generate statistics based on participants’ inputs/responses. These statistics are expected to help achieve three important goals.
First, with so much interest and discussions on the Kalon Tripa candidates and election, there is bound to create some common assumptions. For instance, after the primary election results, many assumed that Lobsang Sangay la’s has a strong supports from monks and nuns, and young college going students. Likewise, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la from government employees and a group of educated Tibetans. However, these assumptions are merely an assumption with no statistical data to support them. Therefore, the first goal is to examine the validity of these assumptions via opinions of the Tibetan electorates.
Second, before the online opinion poll, interested Tibetans have no platform or forum to share their opinions on Kalon Tripa candidates and election. The second goal therefore is to gather these opinions in a single pool so that common voices are heard via media and news channels.
Third and finally, it is hoped that through this poll, Kalon Tripa candidates will be able to envision the opinions of the general Tibetan population. With that visualization, their future talks, debates, and discussions are expected to be more directed and focused towards the needs and interest of Tibetan electorates.
However, online opinion poll is not free from criticism. I have highlighted these limitations in the later section of the paper.
This first phase of online opinion poll on 2011 Kalon Tripa final election was open for interested Tibetans for 13 days i.e., from Nov 12, 2010 to Nov 24, 2010. Participants were contacted via facebook messages, facebook wall postings, and facebook link sharing. Moreover, Tibetan popular medias were contacted for support to spread the word out to reach maximum number of participants for the poll. Three Websites that helped with this endeavor are: Zomsa, PhosaMosa, and The Tibetan Political Review.
Through my personal facebook page, I contacted facebook users with frequent reminders. I also requested my friends and others to forward the request to their friends, colleagues, and friend’s friends. These reminders were sent with the hope to earn a good response rate so that the findings of the study may be closer to accurate.
On the survey request, clear information were provided in terms of anonymity, duration, survey link, qualified participants, closing date, my contact information, and the opportunity for one-time participation. This online survey was set to read the IP address so that a person using a computer can only participate once in the poll. This is intended to reduce the duplication of opinions.
The online opinion poll carried 13 questionnaire items with one on qualifier, next four on Kalon Tripa candidate, then the next seven on participant’s demographic, and one on conclusion. Participants were requested to provide their personal opinions. Out of the 13 items, 12 were multiple-choice items and one open-ended question.
On the poll closing date of Nov 24, 2010, there were a total of 114 participants. Out of which, 9 were not qualified to vote and 23 were invalid responses. Finally, 81 valid responses were received and analyzed for this first phase of online poll.
The results for each questionnaire items are as under:
Question: For the next Kalon Tripa, what leadership qualities are you looking for?
Responses: The top five responses are: 1) Visionary (63 responses); 2) Honest (63 responses); 3) Experience (58 responses); 4) Intelligent (58 responses); and 5) Dedication (56 responses); and
The three lowest responses are: 1) Religious (11 responses); 2) Bureaucratic (16 responses); and 3) Sense of humor (20 responses)
Question: What three issues are most important to you?
Responses: The top three responses are: 1) Tibetan Political Struggle (75%); 2) Culture and Identity (54%); and 3) Education (52%); and
The three lowest responses are: 1) Women empowerment (0%); 2) Religion (1%); and 3) Immigration (1%).
Responses: Out of the total participants,
Question: If you have to vote now, who will you vote for?
Responses: 59% would vote for Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, 25% Lobsang Sangay, and rest others.
Using a statistical software SPSS, I analyzed the results using descriptic statistics and cross tabulation. I will highlight some of the key findings here with support from graphs and charts.
The figure 1 provides a chart showing that majority of the participants were male. And both Tibetan male and female supported Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la as compared to Lobsang Sangay la. However, the question still remains whether monks and nuns, and participants from India support Lobsang Sangay la more than Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la if analyzed from the results of the Kalon Tripa primary election.
The figure 2 examines the number of responses each Kalon Tripa candidates received from the five specified locations. It is clear from the graph that the majority of participants in this first phase of online opinion poll were from the North America (red line). This graph helps to analyze that majority of the Tibetan electorate in the North America supports Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la. However, it is also understood that the number of participants from India (largest Tibetan electorates) are not significant enough in this poll to posit that Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la is the favorite for the Kalon Tripa post.
The figure 3 examines the number of responses each Kalon Tripa candidates received from the study’s participants based on their educational qualification. Out of the total participants, 89% has at least a bachelor degree. Even though it was predicted that the majority of the participant in the study will be educated but I did not expected that such a high percentage of participants will be highly educated. As indicated in the limitation, this is one of the drawbacks of online poll. However, this graph helps us to understand that educated Tibetan electorates support Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la. Again, this finding is not significant to generalize all Tibetan electorates. However, the finding can be generalized to educated Tibetan electorates in the North America.
The figure 4 depicts the number of responses for each Kalon Tripa candidates based on participants’ marital status. The graph provides a clear picture that both married and single Tibetan electorates support Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la. The one assumption that Tibetan electorates made after the result of primary election was that monks and nuns support Lobsang Sangay la. Out of the total participants, there was only one monk or nun participant, and he or she supported Gyari Dolma and not Lobsang Sangay la. Therefore, it will be interesting to see more participation from monks and nuns in the next phase of online opinion poll to verify the aforesaid assumption.
Moreover, an open-ended question was posed to participants asking for additional comments on 2011 Kalon Tripa final election or candidates. Out of the total responses, I looked for repeated pattern and themes. From the responses, some were general comments on the need of active Kalon Tripa to the suggestion for the Election Commission. But majority were directed towards two Kalon Tripa candidates: Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la and Lobsang Sangay la. The most common and repeated theme was the need of experience for the next Kalon Tripa, which played an important role for Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la to win this opinion poll. However, Lobsang Sangay la supporters seem to be more determined with their comments such as he is the only best, he is modern and international way of thinking, and he has a breathe of fresh air. One interesting comment was made on the need of Kalon Tripa (Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la) and Deputy Kalon Tripa (Lobsang Sangay la).
Online surveys are not without limitations. Some of the limitations of this online opinion poll are:
The findings of the study cannot be generalized to the larger Tibetan electorates. The current study succeeds in securing only 81 valid responses out of the approximately 80,000 Tibetan registered voters. However, the study did helped to provide some understandings of the opinion of a small group of participants. From the analysis, it is understood that Tibetan electorates from the North America and Tibetan electorates with higher educational qualification support Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la. It would be interesting to see how the results of first phase of online opinion poll change or not change with more participation from Tibetan electorates in India and Nepal.
Also, 89% of the participants voted for Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la and Lobsang Sangay la, which clearly posits that the final race to the Kalon Tripa is between these two candidates.
In order to achieve more accurate results, the online poll needs a higher number of participants. It is therefore my sincere request to the Tibetan electorates to share their opinions in the upcoming second phase of Online Opinion Poll on 2011 Kalon Tripa final election.
Interested readers can add me to their facebook friend’s list. I can be found at this link www.facebook.com/tenyeshi. Also, you can check with Zomsa.com, Phosamosa.com, and The Tibetan Political Review site for my article requesting for your opinion on the second phase of the poll.
Note: This is an article written purely based on the participant’s inputs and responses. The author 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 here. Further analysis of the results is more than welcome.