Since the emancipation of 1 million serfs in Tibet 64 years ago, residents of the plateau region have become the masters of their house. In old Tibet, serfs accounted for 95 percent of the population. Today, the region has more than 35,000 deputies to people's congresses at township, county, city, regional and national levels and more than 8,000 political advisors.
The region's people gained the right to vote and stand for election for the first time during the democratic reform that began in March 1959. The First Session of the First People's Congress of Tibet Autonomous Region, the regional legislature, took place in September 1965. Democracy has permeated all aspects of life, from social administration to the public supervision of power. The people of all ethnic groups have embraced whole-process democracy, a substantive form of democracy that engages everyone in the policymaking process championed by the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Whole-process democracy comprises both electoral and consultative democracy. In September 2021, Tibet completed a new round of direct elections for people's congresses at the county and township levels, involving its more than 3.6 million residents. The autonomous region's delegation to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, currently has 24 deputies, including one from the Monba ethnic group, which has a population of only some 10,000. Consultative democracy is practiced at all levels from residential community governance to the regional committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a key mechanism for the CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation.
Since Tibet had no democracy to speak of before 1959, the development of both electoral and consultative democracy has been groundbreaking. Its transition from serfdom to modern politics has also contributed to improved wellbeing. Under the democratic system and with the support of the Central Government and other parts of the country, Tibet had eliminated absolute poverty as of late 2019 and is now embarking on a new journey toward modernization.
Whole-process democracy is an important driver of the region's continuous development and its implementation marks significant political progress on the Roof of the World.