The new prime minister of Tibet’s government-in-exile will be formally announced later today. But on the streets of Dharamsala, the Indian mountain town where the exiled government is based, there’s long been only one name on everyone’s lips: Lobsang Sangay. Since the elections took place March 20, Mr. Sangay has been widely regarded as the front-runner. In Tibetan political circles, most expect him to win with a large majority over the other two candidates, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong and Tashi Wangdi. Around 85,000 of the 150,000 Tibetans who live in exile were eligible to cast their vote at the elections.
The Harvard-educated academic, who was born in a Tibetan refugee camp in India’s hill station of Darjeeling in 1968, enjoys wide popularity among the exiled community, especially among its younger generation. Lhazom Tsering, who works at Dharamsala’s Tibetan Women’s Association, said she voted for Mr. Sangay because he is young, because he received a modern education and because she hopes he’ll bring negotiations with China forward on Tibet’s future. “I hope there will be more dialogue with China,” said Ms. Tsering, who was born in exile 32 years ago.
Pushing for Tibet’s greater territorial autonomy from Chinese rule and improving the livelihood of Tibetans there–the central goals of the exiled government–is Mr. Sangay’s top priority. To do this, he has been working to promote greater exchange with Chinese academia and civil society, a strategy known as Track II diplomacy. Another reason he’s attracted supporters is because he’s been speaking of the need to improve the welfare of exiled Tibetans, particularly the younger ones.