29 June 2016

Mongolia's Parliamentary Elections - Your Guide



My (very)  brief insight into Mongolia's June 29th Parliamentary Elections


OK. I admit. Not the most eye catching of blog post titles. But, today, June 29th, Mongolia is holding it's parliamentary elections. Mongolians are heading to the polls to elect the 76 members of the State Great Khural, Mongolia’s parliament. 


I'm not an economist or a social commentator but I'm here working in Ulaanbaatar. Today is a public holiday. The vehicle registration limitation has been lifted. But the streets are quiet. Maybe something to do with the start of three days of no alcohol sales? But subdued streets are seen as good - especially after the 2008 election protests that led to violence.  


Parliament House, Sukhbaatar Square, Ulaanbaatar
Image by our guest Frank Jones

In the last parliamentary elections (2012), 65% of those entitled to vote did - the lowest turnout since the initial elections in 1990 (98% - Institute For Democracy And Electoral Assistance). The turnout for today's election is expected to be even lower. In the words of a recent article in Reuters:
'Turnout at the polls is expected to be at an all-time low, amid widespread perceptions that the older generation has hung on to power to further its own interest at a cost to the rest of the country.'
The median age in Mongolia is 27.6 years. That means a large percentage of the population are roughly the same age as the democracy in which they live. However, it's this younger section of the population that feel that their vote won't matter and won't change anything.  As with other sections of Mongolia's population, they're fed up with the current economic status and the traditional established political parties such as the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and its main opposition, the Mongolian People's Party (MPP). They're fed up with the same people running the country as ten years ago and making the same mistakes, when they feel they could do it in a better and  fairer way - specifically without corruption



President of Mongolia at the Ice Festival, Khovsgol 2016
The current President of Mongolia (Elbegdorj) at the opening of the 2016 Ice Festival in Khovsgol Aimag. The Presidential elections will be held in 2017. Elbegdorj is Mongolia's first president to never have been a member of the former communist Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and the first to obtain a Western education

A total of 498 candidates are standing for parliament - from 12 parties, 3 coalitions and 69 independents.  This includes State Honoured Sportsman and Gold medal Olympic champion N.Tuvshinbayar who is running for the  office for the Democratic Party in the Gobi Aimag of Bayankhongor. (Tuvshinbayar is reported as saying by Montsame (the Mongolian News Agency) that his 'political debut will not interrupt his training rhythm for the forthcoming Olympics because the election campaign will last for only 18 days.'

Those 12 parties includes the Mongolia's People's Party established in 1921 through to the Ard Tumnee Hairlay (Respect the People Party) established in April 2015. The Mongolian National Audit Office has stated that up to 3.4 billion togrog can be spent by each party and coalition on their campaign.

As I'm writing this I quickly checked if any of my Mongolian EL team were online. One was and this is her opinion on what she would like to see come out of the election:


'I'd like to see more individuals than any other political parties as a way of stoping the interdependence between politicians and political parties. Also meaning that more changes and voices would be heard at the parliament level so that small changes can be made one step at a time.'
Voting finishes at 10pm (although the one hour time difference between Ulaanbaatar with the western provinces of Bayan Ulgii, Khovd and Uvs makes it 11pm). A total of 1,912,901 voters are eligible to participate. Watch this space.

If you're considering a trip to Mongolia and are interested in getting a more real insight into the country then please get in touch. You can explore more about my philosophy that drives EL at the Eternal Landscapes Mongolia website.



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