After a wild election season, what’s next for Mongolia? – The Diplomat
The Mongolian People’s Party now controls the executive and the legislature, but now has to deal with COVID-19 and demands to level the political playing field.
Residents cast their votes for the presidential elections in Bayanzurkh district of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
Credit: AP Photo/ Saruul Enkhbold
Mongolia is no exception to global trends of democratic decline. The country’s outgoing president, Battulga Khaltmaa, elected in 2017, has repeatedly come under fire for her heavy-handed actions. In 2019 alone, Battulga removed the head of the Supreme Court and 17 other judges and called for an investigation into his predecessor Elbegdorj Tsakhia, while Battulga himself is suspected of major corruption when he was a minister in a previous administration. Then, less than six weeks before the recent presidential election, Battulga issued an ordinance banning the ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), the traditional counterpart of Battulga’s Democratic Party. The MPP has held a super-majority in parliament since 2016. A recent MPP prime minister, Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, was later elected president in the June contest, raising fears that all major political office will now be held by a single party.
While Khurelsukh won with 67.7% of the vote, the largest margin ever in a presidential election, nationwide turnout was just under 60%, lower than in previous elections ( and as low as 51.2% in the populous and strategically critical province of Selenge, for Example). Additionally, a third party candidate, Enkhbat Dangaasuren for the Right Person Coalition (KhUN), won 20% of the vote.
The MPP now controls both the legislature and the executive, raising new concerns about the direction in which Mongolian democracy is moving. While it should be noted that the MPP-led government has in recent months implemented substantial structural changes in governance and, to a moderate extent, responded to public criticism of the COVID-19 response, it will be under continued pressure to level the playing field. for opposition parties. This includes reforming campaign finance and increasing transparency, both in party and campaign finance and in governance processes more generally.
The 2020 parliamentary and 2021 presidential elections, although resulting in major victories for the MPP candidates, took place after the conclusion of significant legislative changes that could balance the lingering contradictions in the semi-presidential/ semi-parliamentary of Mongolia. Somewhat paradoxically, the MPP now controls a political office, the presidency, which the MPP-dominated parliament spent much of 2019 and 2020 weakening. The MPP, which is internally divided into several factions, is expected to act to temper Khurelsukh’s attempts to seize too much power.