Navigating by Fibreoptic Cable

[Somehow this post got stuck in the drafts folder on the blog dashboard in July 2013 and lingered there for quite some time until I found it again in summer 2016.]

Pardon the very general and somewhat cranky, er, excursion here…

Solar-Powered Pedestrian Map in Ulaanbaatar

Anyone who has visited Mongolia more than once can tell many stories of the massive changes that are happening in the country. Visitors or residents who remain in Ulaanbaatar tell numerous stories about the amazing transformation sthat occur every summer during the construction season. As a recent visitor I might point to the beautification of Ulaanbaatar as a project that began in earnest two or three years ago, but that is obviously being attacked with great energy by Mayor Bat-Uul.

There are now actual sidewalks in the city and plots of greenery that are turning into attractive urban parks. Hosting the ministerial meeting of the Community of Democrarcies in April 2013 obviously lent further impetus to this project as public garbage cans now separate trash from recyclables. Pedestrian crosswalks are not only indicated by road signs, but are occasionally actually observed by pedestrians as well as motorists. Amazing!

Unfortunately, there is still too little research that is capturing these changes in the city or elsewhere. We might think of a highly theoretical engagement with modernity in a Mongolian urban context, but also of the much more detailed documentation of the transformation of the daily life of Mongolians in the city as well as the country. Little of this kind of research is being conducted in an empirical manner by Mongolians as well, and it remains to be seen whether the planned program to support Mongolian Studies abroad will move beyond the traditional philological orientation of Mongolists to focus more on contemporary challenges.

Changing Navigational Tools

Now to more concrete topics…

Overland voyages are certainly an interesting experience in Mongolia. The network of paved roads remains limited and many of the most attractive destinations or many of the necessary trips still involve dirt-roads and off-road travel. Few foreigners take these challenges on on their own.

But, the interaction with drivers and translators around road navigation can often be frustrating. Once you leave the major paved roads there are no road signs. In fact, it sometimes seems as if there is a nation-wide government decree that is better-enforced than many laws that forbids road signs to point to destinations.

Which road to take around Khkukh Nuur? [Khentii, June 2013, photo by Marc Tassé]

As a consequence, all voyages involve optimistic morning-time estimates of, “Oh, we should be there in the morning!”, lunch-time puzzlement at the lack of progress, and late-afternoon concerns about reaching destinations, ger camps, and dinner.

For some reasons, there is also a country-wide conspiracy against GPS technology. Oddly for a land that employs fingerprint readers to verify voters’ identity and counts votes through electronic counting machines, GPS devices are shunned. Some claim that maps are unavailable, but even if that is the case (anyone?), knowledge of one’s location would at least allow for decisions about whether to follow the first or the second valley that presents itself as an option en route.

Yet, at the same time, a surprising navigational tool seems to have, er, taken root in the countryside. For some years now, the government has been laying fibreoptic cable to all sum centres in the country to guarantee internect connectivity and mobile phone network access. Typically, this cable is laid at a fairly shallow depth by small backhoes. Whether this construction actually involves more serious mapping efforts or simply follows existing routes, perhaps on the advice of locals, the lengthy mole hill that is created over the cable now shows direct routes between sum centres. If you come across such a mole hill, it will certainly lead you to a sum and ultimately an aimag centre.

It would be nice, of course, if these mole hills were decorated with directional signs, but it is often relatively clear from the rough direction which sum centre the cable might lead to.

As a navigation aide, the cable mole hill appears to be rapidly replacing power lines which previously served as signposts for overland travel to non-locals. Power lines always had the distinct disadvantage that they seem to have been built as the crow flys, or at least with scant regard for the drivability of the route. By contrast, the small backhoes that have been laying fibreoptic cable have preferred flat spaces that lend themselves to driving between sum centres.

If my observation of this use of the cable mole hill is correct, who would have thought that the laying of fibreoptic cable would transform countryside driving not through making information flows possible, but by hinting at a direct route between towns. As more and more Mongolians in the country are relying on cars, such navigational markers may become more and more important. It is unclear whether mole hills will lead to directional signs or will simply erode, in the meantime, trips between sum centres are becoming more direct. Landscapes are still gorgeous and the Autobahn isn’t about to arrive in the countryside, but some of the adventure and enforced relaxation may be waning.

Posted in Countryside, Nomadism, Social Issues, Tourism | Tagged | Leave a comment

Erdenebat Cabinet

By Bulgan B & Julian Dierkes

Contrary to usual practice to wait to form a new government after a June election until September, the newly-elected Mongolian parliament met in July already to elect a Prime Minister and a cabinet.

Given the resounding MPP victory in the election, it came as no surprise that MPP leader M Enkhbold pushed for an MPP majority government.

The government is led by J Enkhbat as Prime Minister while Enkhbold has been elected speaker of the State Great Khural, perhaps a position to launch a bid for presidency from next year. It thus seems fair to assume that Enkhbold and other MPP officials have considerable authority over the prime ministers and other members of cabinet.

The Erdenebat cabinet has 16 ministers and 13 ministries. Seven ministers were appointed from outside of parliament and nine ministers are MPs (double deel). Only two members of cabinet are women.

Prime Minister (Монгол Улсын Ерөнхий Сайд): J Erdenebat
Trade and Industry Institute, Academy of Administration, Mongolian Univ of Agriculture
Russian
MP 2012-present
Governor of Selenge Aimag 2008-12
Head of the Finance and State Fund Department, Office of the Selenge aimag 2005-2008
Deputy Governor of Selenge Aimag from 2004-2005
Head of the Finance and Economic Policy Coordination Department, Office of Selenge Aimag 2000-2004
Accountant of “Suutei” LLC in Mandal Soum, Selenge aimag 1996-1997

Cabinet Secretary (Хэрэг эрхлэх газрын дарга): MP J Munkhbat (General Secretary of MPP)
Born 1979
National University of Mongolia – political science
Mongolian People’s Party General Secretary 2013-2016
Editor-in-Chief of  “Mongolyn Unen” newspaper  2011-2013
Deputy chairman of the Standing committee on Political Policy of the Mongolian People’s Party 2010-2013
President of the Mongolian Young Generations’ Development Association 2008-2010
Secretary General of the Social Democratic Mongolian Youth Association 2005-2007

Deputy Prime Minister (Шадар сайд): U Khurelsukh (MPP)
Born 1968
Defense University of Mongolia (Political Science), Institute of Public Administration and Development (Public Administration), National University of Mongolia (Law)
Deputy Prime Minister 2014-2015
MPP Gen Secretary 2008-2012
Member of Parliament 2000-2008
Minister of National Emergency Agency 2004-06
Minister in charge of Professional Inspections 2006-08

Minister of Justice and Interior Affairs (Хууль зүй дотоод хэргийн сайд): MP S Byambatsogt (former MPP Caucus Leader)
Institute of Economy and Finance and MBA, University of Maastricht in Holland
Member of Parliament 2008-present
President of the “New Progress” Group 2008
Chairman of the Board of Directors of “New Progress” Group 2006-2008
Director of “New Progress” LLC 2000-2006General Director of “Khovdiin Urguu” LLC 1998-2000

Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports (Боловсрол, соёл шинжлэх ухаан, спортын сайд): J Batsuuri
Construction engineer and economist from University in Bratislava and PhD in Economy from Czech Technical University
Member of Parliament 2008-Present
Governor of Dornogovi Aimag 2000-2008
General Director “Us Orchin” LLC 1998-2000
PhD Professor at Czech technical university 1994-1998
Deputy Director of Information Technology School of Technical University 1992-1994
Professor at the Technical University 1987-1992
Professor at Polytechnic Institute and 1983-1987

Minister of Defense (Батлан хамгаалахын сайд): MP B Bat-Erdene (former national wrestling champion)
Graduated with a degree in law from the Military University in 1990
Member of Parliament 2004-Present
Director of “Avraga” Institute of Kinesiology 1999-2004
Sportsman, Deputy director and Director of “Khuch” sports society 1983-2010

Minister of Environment and Tourism (Байгаль орчин, аялал жуулчлалын сайд): MP D Oyunkhorol
Born 1963
Mongolian State Univ of Education, National University of Mongolia (Law)
English, Russian
MP 2000-04, 2008-present
Minister of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism 2014-2015

Minister of Foreign Relations (Гадаад харилцааны сайд): MP Ts Munkh-Orgil
Born 1964
Bachelor degree from Russia in International Relations and LLM, Harvard University
Secretary General of the Mongolian People’s Party 2012-2013
Member of Parliament 2004-2012 (Minister of Foreign Affairs 2004-2006 and Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs 2007-2008)
Deputy Minister of the Justice and Internal Affairs 2000-2004
Executive director of “Munkh-Orgil, Idesh, Lynch” LLC 1997-2000
Lawyer in Washington US 1996 – 1997
Third and Second Secretary of Mongolian Permanent Mission of UN 1991-1995
Foreign Ministry Attache 1988-1991

Minister of Finance (Сангийн сайд): MP B Choijilsuren
Graduated with a degree in automation and tele-mechanics from the Urals Higher Polytechnic
Member of Parliament 2008-Present
Deputy Head of the Office of the President 2005
Director of Khurd, Khurd Food, Khurd Invest companies 1995-2005
Director of KAMAN company 1993-1995

Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry (Уул уурхай, хүнд үйлдвэрийн сайд): Ts Dashdorj (former MP)
Drilling technology and engineer degree from the Polytechnic Institute 1990
Member of Parliament 2000-2004; 2008-2012; 2012 to Present
Deputy Minister of Construction and Urban Development 2004-2008
General Direcgtor of “Ikh Temuulel” LLC 1995-2000
Drilling Engineer “Gazriin Tos” LLC 1990-1993

Minister of Labor and Social Protection (Хөдөлмөр, нийгмийн хамгааллын сайд): MP N Nomtoibayar
Graduated from the Valparaiso University of Indiana, USA with the degree in political science and practice business
Member of Parliament 2012 – Present Deputy Minister of Social Protection and Labour 2012
Vice President of Mongolyn Alt LLC 2010-2012
Board of Directors of the Mongolian Economic Research and Competitiveness Center 2010
Central Intelligence Agency 2008-2009
Project manager at Mongolyn Alt LLC 2005-2008
Central Intelligence Authority 2001-2005

Minister of Roads and Transport (Зам, тээврийн хөгжлийн сайд): D Ganbat (CEO of Mongolian Railways)
Graduates as an engineer, mechanics, translation and law from the Military Engineering Institute, ВГЧУ, National University of Mongolia
Member of Parliament 2012 – Present
General Director of “Technic Import” LLC 2004-2012
Chairman of the Boards of Directors of “Technik Import” LLC 1999-2004
Director of the Historical and Cultural Artifact Restoration Authority 1996-1999
Deputy Director of the Russia Mongolia joint “Bayanbulag” LLC 1989-1992

Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry (Хүнс, хөдөө аж ахуй, хөнгөн үйлдвэрийн сайд): P Sergelen (Noyon Suld Group)
Graduated form State University of Pedagogy and Institute of Economy and Finance
General Director of “Buudain Khur” LLC 2010-2014
Director of “Noyon Suld” LLC 1995-2009

Minister of Construction and Urban Development (Барилга, хот байгуулалтын яам): G Munkhbayar

Minister of Energy (Эрчим хүчний сайд): P Gankhuu
Professor at the Institute of Society and Economy 1997
Project advisor to the NUM
Deputy head of the Energy Authority 2009-2012
Senior specialist at the Ministry of Fuel and Energy 2004-2009
Specialist at the Ministry of Infrastructure 2002-2004

Minister of Health (Эрүүл мэндийн сайд): A Tsogtsetseg
Graduated the Medical University and Academy of Management
Director of the Venereal Disease Research Center of Mongolia 2003-2016
Head of Department at the Venereal Disease Research Center of Mongolia 1988-2003
Doctor at the Venereal Disease Research Center of Mongolia 1986-1988

Posted in Ikh Khural 2016, Mongolian People's Party, Politics, Public Policy, Public Service | Tagged | Leave a comment

Five Years of Mongolia Focus

By Julian Dierkes

We posted our first blog on July 29, 2011.

The idea to blog grew out of discussions that Mendee, Byamba and I were having almost every day at the office. Social developments in Mongolia, current politics, curious aspects of comparisons, etc., these were all discussions we were having. At some point, we decided that there were not enough discussions of this kind that connected different centres of interest in Mongolia around the world.

At first we were speaking primarily to ourselves, though now accessible to others in our thinking.

As we kept writing, and we haven’t missed a month yet. Later on, Brandon Miliate and Bulgan joined our efforts and several guest authors have also contributed posts.

We’ve published a total of 403 posts.

The most read post has been “Corruption in Mongolia according to Transparency International“. It has been read nearly 1,500 times.

We’ve covered a great variety of topics, captured somewhat by this recent tagcloud.

Over these past five years, a total of 79,000 readers have visited our pages. The top ten locations of our readers are: Mongolia (23%), U.S. (20%), Canada (14%), UK (5%), Australia (5%), Germany (3%), Japan (3%), China (2%), South Korea (2%), India (2%).

Interest in the blog obviously parallels broader interest in Mongolia and thus spikes in particular around national elections.

Posted in Research on Mongolia, Social Media | Tagged | 2 Comments

Did (Any of) My Saikhanbileg Wishes Come True?

By Julian Dierkes

In December 2014 when the first Saikhanbileg cabinet had been formed, I wrote a personal wishlist of actions I was hoping that cabinet might take.

J Erdenebat was the finance minister in that cabinet. All the more reason to revisit that wishlist now that the election has passed and  Erdenebat’s MPP government is forming.

My Wishes Two Years Ago

Below are the topics I focused on in my 2014 wishlist and a quick sense if any of my wishes came trie.

The Economy
Well, OT is back on track. Underground construction is under way and production from the underground part of the mine should rev up in the early 2020s

The economy? Not so much.

Clearly, economic worries have been on top of Mongolians’ minds as polls this Spring showed. And, for good reason. Unemployment, poverty, inflation, all these are challenges that persist. They have also led to a huge public debt (mostly papered over through Chinese bridge loans) which severely curtail Erdenebat government’s space to manoeuvre or to consider policies that are in any way costly.

Anti-Corruption
No, the grand coalition of the early Saikhanbileg primeministership did not lead to a bi-partisan attempt to actually address corruption.

Public Service
No, public service organization did not improve. There were no significant legislative initiatives in this regard, and the DP’s attempts to replace virtually everyone in public service with a patronage, i.e. DP appointment continued unabated.

Higher Education
No, there was no significant action on higher education.

Long-term Risky Research for Diversification
Diversification remains a topic that shows up frequently in economic discussions, it also showed up in the recent election campaign. But, has there been strategic progress in this regard? Not that I can see.

Policy-Making Capacity
No big movement on this topic either. In fact, the election campaign with its lack of clearly identifiable policy differences between the parties illustrated the lack of focus on policy and evidence to determine policy.

A Role for “Repats”
The flurry of initial interest in the XUN party (yes, aware of the redundancy of “XUN party” since the “N” already stands for HAM=party), was also a flurry of mobilization by repats. Yet, the party got derailed, and many repats and other younger professionals seemed very frustrated by the limited choices in a two-horse race.

Support for Aimag Centres
Nothing of the sort.

Nurturing Democracy
This does seem the one element of DP rhetoric that has been pursued most consistently, though perhaps more by Pres Elbegdorj than PM Saikhanbileg.

Initiatives such as the devolution of decision-making to the local level and to citizens’ halls continue, though seemingly in a fairly unsystematic manner.

Nurturing Democracy as Foreign Policy
This certainly has been one of the successes were the DP has been able to build on long-standing policy, like the Third Neighbour Policy and amplify that for Mongolia to continue to have a visibility on the global stage much beyond its (population) size or economic significance in the world.

Posted in Corruption, Democracy, Democratic Party, Education, Foreign Policy, Ikh Khural 2016, Mining, Party Politics, Policy, Policy, Politics, Public Policy, Public Service | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cabinet Appointment: Dumbledorj for Foreign Minister

By Julian Dierkes

Things are moving very fast with the new MPP government, it seems like now is the time to make my pitch for a cabinet appointment…

Beware of a feeble attempt at humour…

This is the newsflash I’m hoping to see soon:

*****

BREAKING NEWS!!!

New Mongolian government to appoint Dumbledorj J (Дамбалдорж) as Foreign Minister (Гадаадын Сайд). This comes as a surprise as the position of Foreign Minister is a new one and it has not been announced how Dumbledorj is likely to collaborate/share duties/divide tasks with the Minister of Foreign Relations (Гадаад харилцааны сайд), presumably a Mongolian appointee.

*****

What would my qualifications be?

At least, Dumbledorj is an Expert

This particular Dumbledorj has been visiting Mongolia for over ten years and gets a funny look at Chinggis Khaan International airport because of all the Mongolia stamps he has in his passport. Yet, he is not affiliated directly with an commercial interests or foreign government.

He has written about Mongolian foreign affairs regularly, not just on this blog, but also in The Diplomat, East Asian Forum, and various other newspapers and magazines. He is particularly interest in Mongolian digital diplomacy and thrilled that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has re-tweeted his missives several times.

No double deel!

Dumbledorj likes wearing a deel (though on very rare occasions), but he has no ambitions to wear two deels at once, nor is he planning to run for the State Great Khural any time soon.

Definitely Foreign

To attain the title of “Foreign Minister”, Dumbledorj can confidently claim that he is foreign!

Dumbledorj in Cabinet

Dumbledorj’ Mongolian understanding is passable, but not so good that he catches jokes, even jokes about him. His presence in parliament might just be a productive addition by giving other ministers an opportunity to tell jokes about a fellow minister (or about MP Javkhlan, see below) without having to append ““.

Dumbledorj in the Public

Dumbledorj is quite tall, of course. This means that he is always placed in the last row of all photographs so he is not likely to overshadow any other members of cabinet or other officials. He also takes terrible photos and tends to strike awkward poses, so he will make his colleagues look better quite naturally.

Building Relations with the Opposition

Dumbledorj is a big fan of Javkhlan’s singing. He will be delighted to attempt to make friends with Javkhlan in parliament and thus build links with the opposition.

Support my Campaign

Tweet using #ДамбалдоржГадаадынСайд

Posted in Curios, Ikh Khural 2016 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Guest Post: Questions about Purchase of Erdenet Mining

Note: I am unable to corroborate what Lkhagva is reporting here, but a) I know him to be a committed investigative journalist, and b) this is a potentially important story given the significance of the Erdenet mine to Mongolia, not just its economy, but also its identity.  – Julian Dierkes

By Lkhagva Erdene

Mongolian Ruling Party Questions the Legality of Hush Mine Deal with Russia

Investigation and debate by MongolTV journalist shed new light on a secret US$400 million deal involving two of the biggest state owned mines in the country.

The announcement

On June 28th, day before the country goes to vote Prime Minister of Mongolia Chimed Saikhanbileg announced the transaction of Russian shares of the largest copper and molybdenum mine to a Mongolian company called Mongolian Copper Corporation.

“I am announcing today that the Erdenet Mining Corporation is under 100% Mongolian ownership. Mongolian company now owns the 49 percent share once belonged to Rostec, Russian SOE. I would like to highlight the decision was concluded at the highest level or Russian government.” http://eagle.mn/r/13348, http://www.ikon.mn/n/ryl

After the announcement, political party Mongolian People’s Revolutionary party which holds 3 seat in current cabinet strongly condemn the sale while main opposition Mongolian People’s Party issued an statement calling the sale illegal. MP Su Batbold delivered the statement “The share belongs to the Mongolian people. This deal is given to an unknown company that was only incorporated two years ago called Mongolian Copper Corporation run by an executive who is only 28 years old. No action can justify this deal.” http://www.ikon.mn/n/ryn

June 29th – Election Day

Mongolian voters went to the polls giving landslide victory to Mongolian People’s Party with 65 seats out of 76 seats.

June 30th – Rostec confirms the sale

Rostec issued a press release confirming the sale of the shares hailing the “beneficial market conditions for both the Russian and Mongolian sides”

“At the root of the sale of 49% of shares in Erdenet Mining Corporation LLC is a studied approach to managing its mining companies and implementing an individual approach with respect to different assets in accordance with Rostec’s strategic benchmarks. The sale of 49% of shares in Erdenet Mining Corporation LLC and Mongolrostsvetmet LLC is Rostec’s largest deal in the real economy, as a result of which the corporation’s budget received its largest ever single cash input…” said Rostec’s CEO Sergei Chemezov http://rostec.ru/en/news/4518501

Mongolian Copper Corporation (MCC.mn)

Before the PM’s announcement Mongolian business and political circle has unheard of the Mongolian Copper Corporation. The company is “fully owned by a consortium of leading Mongolian companies” according to the press release by Rostec.

The official address on the company website “Suite 401” at the Blue Sky Tower was occupied by National News Corporation and BloombergTV Mongolia staff. Staff had no knowledge of such corporation.

BloombergTV Mongolia is owned by TDB Media LLC subsidiary of Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia

Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia helped advise and finance the mine deal according to the CEO of the bank Onon Orkhon. http://www.mnb.mn/i/91032

Mongolian Copper Corporation is wholly owned by a Mongolian citizen named Purevtuvshin. The deal was concluded at US 400 million. 200 million was financed by the corporation and 200 million was a credit from Trade and Development Bank to Mongolian Copper Corporation said Orkhon during the live TV panel organized by MongolTV. The deal was highly secretive given the (geo)political situation, Orkhon added.

The debate – July 4th – Hush deal and uninformed public

MongolTV called for panel debate on the mine sale asking relevant decision makers, bankers close to the deal and lawyers into a popular debate show titled “Nuudel Shiidel”. Prior to the debate an online poll showed 80 percent of the public had no information of the state owned mine share to MCC. /1900 people took the poll as of 12:10pm of July 5th/

Ministry of Finance sources told MongolTV the announcement came as surprise to relevant government officials within the ministry. Erdenebileg Erdenejamiyan, Deputy Leader of Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party confirmed the account citing cabinet members from his party enquired about the mine sale from the PM only to be ignored by the cabinet leader. Erdenejamiyan served as Deputy Justice Minister in the previous cabinet.

Debate shed new light on the details of the deal raising more concerns of the legality of the deal.

“According to Mongolian law on strategic mines (Erdenet mine is listed 11th on the strategic mine list) parliament has to approve the sale of stake in the mine” said Oyunsaikhan Altangerel lawyer, defense attorney who previously worked for the Justice Ministry of Mongolia.

“The main question is why Russia is exiting Mongolian market shying away from their strategic interest. I am more interested in that context rather than looking at this as a business deal.” Member of Parliament former Defense Minister of Mongolia Jadamba Enkhbayar

Government approval

Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa independent journalist shared new information on cabinet approval from Mongolian government letter dated June 13th sent from Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirming the sale by declining the Rostec initial offer to government of Mongolia. “Russian government Medvedev agreed to the sale only if cabinet approval from the Mongolian counterpart on June 2nd on government website.”

Jadamba Enkhbayar who’s party now represents super majority in Mongolian Parliament asked for parliamentary probe and hearing into this deal by concluding “The Mongolian people voted for our party to investigative and return the public asset. We will have to deliver. That is what we promised.”

Will the Mongolian government change their decision with the new parliament swearing-in today? Will the deal taint a longstanding relationship between the two countries? Feel free to weigh in on the discussion or add your input to lhagva@mongoltv.mn

About Lkhagva E

Lkhagva Erdene is an investigative journalist based in Mongolia. He is the executive producer of news at MongolTV, commercial broadcaster in Mongolia. He is currently working on the Panama Papers leak with The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

You can watch the full debate in Mongolian from MongolTV Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLm1fhr_3DahddWfIQ_z_GD83JCVX0t_8l

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Erdenet, Ikh Khural 2016, Lkhagva Erdene, Mining, Mining Governance, Russia | Tagged | Leave a comment

Not a Social Media Election

By Julian Dierkes

I was surprised that the election campaign for the June 29 election did not unfold on social media more. Yes, there was some activity, but I did not see any clever or comprehensive campaigns by candidates or parties, nor was there all that much action from voters.

Why Might One Expect a Social Media Election?

Data on social media usage is always a bit tricky and rarely up-to-date, but basic telephony and computer access data for Mongolia is available through the UN’s International Telecommunications’ Union, for example. In the ITU’s 2015 ICT Development Index, some of the data included suggests widespread use of mobiles that anyone who has travelled to or lives in Mongolia could certainly confirm. For example, for 100 Mongolians, there are 105 cell phone contracts. 29% of households have access to the internet, according to these statistics.

That confirms the more anecdotal impression of wide-spread use of mobiles, increasingly smartphones as well, and of computers. Mongolians also continue to be very active on social media. While Twitter has been very popular for some years, Facebook seems to have surpassed it recently.

Given the potential for multiplication of political messages via social media, I was expecting a very active election campaign online this year. I was looking for URLs and Facebook/Twitter/userids to be prominent in campaign materials, and for coordinated campaigns in social media via hashtags and the strategic sharing of posts.

Observations

My overall impression is that not nearly as many of these kind of activities happened as I was expecting.

MPs on Twitter

But, obviously, my impression is quite limited. It is based primarily on Twitter rather than Facebook. My children keep reminding me that “Twitter is for old people”. That’s why I use it, but many Mongolian politicians seem to agree with me in that. 41 members of the incoming State Great Khural are on Twitter. With a parliament of 76 members that’s not quite universal adoption, and not all of the 41 accounts I identified are particularly active, but still, it does seem that even if Twitter is less of the go-to social medium that it might have been some few years ago in Mongolia, it is still relevant.

Facebook and other Platforms

I have been told that Facebook discussions around the election were quite active. While I am on FB myself, I really don’t use it very much for professional purposes, in part because the search function does not seem to work well for such purposes, and because hashtagging or some other form of organization has never really taken off. I did not take a closer look at other rising social media like SnapChat. A search for the hashtag #Сонгууль2016 does produce a number of posts on Instagram, including many where voters have recorded their voting “receipt”, but not much in terms of a campaign that I can identify.

No GIFs

I was also quite surprised not to see more posting on the election night. GIFs were noticeably absent from Twitter as well, though I made a clumsy attempt at humour:

Visuals

From photos that others sent me, I could not spot a single billboard or campaign poster that listed a website or social media userid. It seems that the election law did not specifically prohibit such pointers to social media sites and channels. 

See the small forest of election posters in the photo below. Not a single one seems to offer a link to social media or a website.

Lack of Campaigning

I was surprised that neither parties nor candidates seem to develop strategic campaigns that focused on slogans, particular issues, or anything like that really. I did not see any strategic hashtags that would lend themselves to engage voters on specific topics, nor any attempts to use graphics to increase engagement. The parties in particular did not seem to see strategic value in coordinating any activities on social media.

Why, given Mongolians’ participation in social media?

First of all, Mongolian political operatives are not alone in not realizing the potential that social media hold for engagement of citizens. This is certainly a common theme for analyses of “digital diplomacy” efforts where the number of channels appears to be proliferating, but the messages are primarily intended for broadcast, rather than engagement.

Secondly, past campaigns in Mongolia have also not suggested strong coordination within parties to observers. One of the challenges remain that most candidates seem themselves as a campaign on to themselves. This was very obviously the case in the 2008 election where multiple members from the same party were competing in the same constituency, but even in 2012 with its portion of seat to be won by proportional representation, central party campaigns were limited. With the return to majoritarian voting in this election, perhaps the incentives have skewed away from party campaign efforts again.

Reporting on Campaign

While I didn’t see much use of social media by the parties, the media were more active this time and seemed better prepared for the election evening and the arrival of results as well.

Some media organizations clearly dedicated some resources to the production of graphics and dedicated websites, etc. Here’s an example of some of the visually-attractive, but also informative graphics that came out.

Posted in Elections, Ikh Khural 2016, Politics, Social Media | Tagged | Leave a comment

Зочны булан:Монгол улсын 2016 оны УИХ-ын сонгуулийн мөрийн хөтөлбөрт буй уул уухайн зорилтуудын тухай

Др. А. Энхбат

Монгол улсын Их хурлын сонгуулийн санал хураалт 2016.06.29-нд болно. Энэ удаагийн сонгуульд 13 нам, 3 эвсэл өрсөлдөж байна. Эдгээрээс УИХ-ын сонгуульд 39 дээш нэр дэвшигч буюу засгийн газар байгуулах хэмжээнд өрсөлдөж буй МАН, АН, МАХН, “Тусгаар тогтнол, эв нэгдэл” эсвэл гэсэн дөрвөн улс төрийн хүчний Монгол улсын Үндэсний аудитын газраар хянуулж, дүгнэлт гаргуулан Монгол улсын сонгуулийн ерөнхий хороонд хүргүүлсэн, Монгол улсын сонгуулийн ерөнхий хорооны албан ёсны вэб хуудаст тавигдсан мөрийн хөтөлбөрт товч дүгнэлт хийлээ.

МАХН-ын хувьд мөрийн хөтөлбөртөө уул уурхайн салбарын хөгжил, бодлогын талаар тусгагдаагүй. Харин мөрийн хөтөлбөрийн эхлэл болох зорилго хэсэгт Монгол орны байгалийн баялаг нь ард олны аз жаргалтай амьдралын үндэс болох талаар тунхагийн шинжтэй ганц заалт оруулжээ.Харин “Тусгаар тогтнол, эв нэгдэл” эвсэл мөрийн хөтөлбөртөө уул уурхай, металлургийн цогцолбор байгуулах, Стратегийн ач холбогдол бүхий орд газруудыг төрийн өмчид хамааруулах, Оюутолгойн гэрээг шударгаар хянах, Таван толгойн ордыг ард түмний өмчид хэвээр үлдээх, байгаль орчныг “бохирдуулагч нь төлөгч”, “ашиглагч нь хамгаалагч” байх үзэл санааг хэрэгжүүлнэ гэх зэрэг тун ерөнхий зорилтууд дэвшүүлжээ.

Харин улс төрийн хамгийн том хоёр хүчин МАН, АН өөрсдийн мөрийн хөтөлбөртөө уул уурхайн салбарын хөгжил, бодлогын талаар тусгайлан дэлгэрэнгүй зорилтуудыг дэвшүүлжээ. МАН мөрийн хөтөлбөрийнхөө 2. Эдийн засгийн бодлого гэх хоёр дугаар бүлгийнхээ 2.4 Уул уурхайн хөгжил гэх зүйлээ, АН мөрийн хөтөлбөрийнхөө Уул уурхай гэсэн гурав дахь бүлгээ уул уурхайд зориулжээ.

МАН-ын хувьд уул уурхайн өнөөгийн байдлыг хөрөнгө оруулалт 4 дахин буурсан гэж дүгнээд, шийдлээ дэвшүүлсэн байна. Харин АН уул уурхайн салбараас олох экспортын орлогыг тогтвортой, өсөлттэй байх зорилт дэвшүүлжээ. Ингээд хоёр намын мөрийн хөтөлбөрт дэвшүүлж буй ялгаатай болон үндсэн зорилтуудыг түүж хүснэгтээр харуулья.

МАН АН

2.4.1 Байгалийн баялгийг боловсруулан нэмүү өртөг шингэсэн эцсийн бүтээгдхүүн болгон дэлхийн зах зээлд гаргах, дэлхийн нэр хүндтэй томоохон компаниудыг урьж ажиллуулах эдийн засаг, эрх зүйн нэн тааламжтай орчин бүрдүүлнэ.

2.4.5Төрийн өмчит “Эрдэнэс Монгол” компанийн үйл ажиллагааг сайжруулж, Оюутолгой, Тавантолгой, Эрдэнэт зэрэг томоохон компаниудын үр ашгийг иргэн бүрт хүртээмжтэй байлгах бололцоог бүрдүүлнэ.

2.4.7 Уул уурхайн олборлолтын төсөлд төрийн оролцоог зохистой байлгаж, татвар болон ашигт малтмалын нөөц ашигласны төлбөр авах хэлбэрийг сонгох бодлого түлхүү баримтална.

2.4.8 “төрөөс эрдэс баялгийн салбарт баримтлах бодлого”-ын 3.1.2-т заасан иргэд бичил уурхайн салбарт хууль ёсны бүтцээр хоршиж ажиллах чиглэлийг хэрэгжүүлэх, холбогдох эрх зүйн зохицуулалтыг боловсронгуй болгоно.

 

·         Эрдэс баялгийн салбарын хүний нөөцийг хөгжүүлж, ажлын байрыг нэмэгдүүлэх

·         Стратегийн орд газрууд болох таван толгойн нүүрcний ордын хүчин чадал, Эрдэнэтийн зэс, молибденийн ордын нөөцийг тус тус нэмэгдүүлж, Асгатын мөнгө, Гацууртын алт, Цагаан суваргын зэсийн ордыг эргэлтэнд оруулж, Оюу толгойн далд уурхайн төсөл амжилттай хэрэгжихэд дэмжлэг үзүүлнэ.

·         Ашигт малтмалын тусгай зөвшөөрлийг орон нутгийн иргэдээс урьдчилан санал авсaны үндсэн дээр олгох, тусгай зөвшөөрөл олгох үйл ажиллагааны хяналт, бүртгэл, мэдээллийн санг ил тод нээлттэй болгоно.

·         Ашигт малтмалын үйлдвэрийн хаягдал боловсруулах, дэвшилтэт техник, технологи нэвтрүүлэхийг бодлогоор дэмжинэ.

·         Цөмийн хаягдалтай холбогдсон бүх үйл ажиллагааг Монгол Улсын нутаг дэвсгэрт хориглоно.

·         Газрын тосны шинэ орд илрүүлэх хайгуулын ажлыг эрчимжүүлнэ. Газрын тосны салбарт 2030 он хүртэл баримтлах бодлогыг боловсруулна. Газрын тосны олборлолтыг жилд 1.7 сая тоннд, экспортын орлогыг 500 тэрбум төгрөгт тус тус хүргэнэ.

·         Нүүрс баяжуулах үйлдвэрлэлийн үндэс суурийг тавина.

·         Хийн түлшний хэрэглээ, хадгалалт, тээвэрлэлт, борлуулалтад тавигдах стандарт, дүрмийг баталж, иргэдийн аюулгүй байдлыг хангана.

 

Хүснэгтээс үзвэл МАН уул уурхайн салбарт гадны хөрөнгө оруулалтыг нэмэгдүүлэх асуудлыг гол зорилтоо болгож, уул уурхайн орд, компаниуд дахь төрийн оролцоог зохистой байлгаж, татвар, ашигт малтмалын нөөц ашигласны төлбөр авах хэлбэрийг сонгохоо зарласан. АН-ын хувьд уул уурхайн салбарын хүний нөөц, техник, технологийн хөгжил, үйлдвэрлэлд гол анхаарал хандуулж цөмийн хаягдалтай холбогдох бүх үйл ажиллагааг хорих, газрын тосны үйлдвэрлэлийг хөгжил, хийн түлшний аюулгүй байдлыг сайжруулах зорилтууд дэвшүүлсэн нь харагдаж байна. Товчоор дүгнэвэл МАН гадны хөрөнгө оруулалтыг нэмэгдүүлэх орчинг бүрүүлэх, уул уурхай дахь төрийн оролцоог багасгах бодлого баримтлахаа зарлажээ. Харин АН-ын хувьд уул уурхайн салбарыг аж үйлдвэрлэлтэй холбож хөгжүүлэх зорилт тавьж, төрийн хяналтыг хүчтэй болгох бодлого дэвшүүлсэн байна.

Мөн уул уурхайн салбарын талаархи хоёр намын мөрийн хөтөлбөрт Тавантолгойн 1072 хувьцааг үнэ цэнтэй болгох, уул уурхайн орлогоос бүрдэх сан байгуулах, уурхайн нөхөн сэргээлт, хаалтыг сайжруулж ил тод, хариуцлагтай уурхайг хөгжүүлэх, иргэдийн оролцоог нэмэгдүүлэх, бичил уурхай болон алтны худалдан авалтын эрх зүйн орчинг сайжруулах, геологийн нэгдсэн мэдээлэлийн сан, судалгаа, зураглал хийх, эрдэс баялагын салбарын хөрөнгө оруулалтын таатай орчинг бий зэрэг ижил зорилтууд байна.

Үүнээс гадна хоёр намын мөрийн хөтөлбөр тус тусдаа уул уурхайн баялагт тулгуурлан аж үйлвэрлэл хөгжүүлэх, уул уурхайн баялагын боловсруулах зорилтуудыг дэвшүүлжээ. МАН тодорхой уурхайнуудыг нэр заан үйлдвэрлэл хөгжүүлэх, зориултуудаа дэвшүүлсэн бол АН илүү бүсчилсэн байдлаар уул уурхайн үйлдвэр, цогцолборуудаа байгуулах, хөгжүүлэх зорилт тавьжээ. Бас хоёр намын мөрийн хөтөлбөрт буй байгаль орчин тухай зорилтуудад уул уурхайн салбартай холбогдол асуудалууд тусгагджээ. МАН уул уурхайн нөхөн сэргээлтийг чухалчлан, үүнд иргэдийн оролцоог нэмэгдүүлэх зорилт дэвшүүлсэн бол АН ундны усыг хамгаалах, уул уурхайн усны хэрэглээг гадагшаа урсгалтай гол мөрнөөс нийлүүлэх зорилтыг тавьсан байна.

Үүнээс гадна АН мөрийн хөтөлбөрийнхөө эхэнд эдийн засгийн хүрээний үндсэн зорилтуудаа уул уурхайн олборлох салбарын хөгжилд тэргүүлэх ач холбогдол өгнө, мөн  мөрийн хөтөлбөрийн эрчим хүчний түлшний аюулгүйн нөөцийг бүрдүүлж, хангамжийг баталгаажуулах зорилтууддаа зарим уурхайнуудыг нэр заан хүчин чадлын нэмэгдүүлнэгэсэн байна.

Нам, эвсэлүүдийн мөрийн хөтөлбөрүүдэд ийнхүү уул уурхайн салбарын асуудал онцгой байр суурь эзлэж, Монгол улсын эдийн засгийн гол хөшүүрэг болж байгаа нь Монгол улсыг нэгэн уул уурхайн орон болсныг харуулж байна.

А. Энхбат. ШУТИС-ийн Хүмүүнлэгийн салбарын дэд профессор, доктор (Ph.D)

 

Posted in Democracy, Democratic Party, Elections, Enkhbat Avirmed, Mining, Mining, Mining Governance, Mongolia and ..., Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Politics, Public Policy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Immediate Reactions to MPP Landslide

By Julian Dierkes

Wow, what a victory for the MPP. Certainly unexpected in this magnitude, but that’s what happens with first-past-the-post voting, i.e. a series of small and big victories in constituencies adds up to a HUGE victory in terms of seats in the State Great Khural, currently projected to be 65 MPP, 9 DP, 1 MPRP, 1 Independent.

That is not just a majority, but a super-duper-majority with 85% of the seats in parliament.

Wow!

Election Proceedings

By all early accounts, the election seems to have run well, despite the very late switch to first-past-the-post. There have been no reports of major glitches and the results were reported very quickly. This was always meant to be an advantage of electronic counting, but given decisive margins in almost all races, this advantage was actually realized.

MPP Results

Everyone won. Well, almost, but obviously, there were only 11 candidates who didn’t. Party leader M Enkhbold certainly won.

DP Results

Everyone lost. Well, almost. Some of the DP grandees lost which is quite significant as this could serve as a potential catalyst for the rejuvenation of the DP.

Some of the most prominent politicians who went down in defeat:

  • UIX speaker Z Enhkbold
  • long-time thorn-in-everyones-side Kh Battulga
  • PM Ch Saikhanbileg
  • former PM N Altankhuyag
  • former MP and Min of Justice Kh Temuujin
  • etc., etc.

Independents

No major breakthroughs for any independents or smaller parties.

The one independent who has been elected is S Javkhlan. I am a big fan of his music, but he’s quite a nationalist. He’ll be easy to brand as a voice for “resource nationalism”, that foreign invention that almost all foreign analysts invoke when writing about Mongolia, but his election is about personal popularity and stardom, not a building movement, or any kind of ideology, I would argue.

Perhaps notable, S Ganbaatar, former independent MP was not elected either, blocking any thoughts of him running for president next year on the strength of his personal popularity.

When final results will be out, there will be more of a chance to see whether any independent candidates or small parties gained significant shares of the vote.

Note that the Civil Will Green Party has been eliminated from parliament with this election. Its two former MPs either chose not to run (long-time MP and former foreign minister and minister for green development, S Oyun) or defeated as a DP candidate (S Demberel).

Even the MPRP only gained one seat.

Women

Currently, it looks like 13 women will be seated in the new parliament. That is a surprise as the decision not to run by some women, coupled with the dropping of the candidate quota from 30 to 20% suggested that there may be fewer women in parliament.

Voter Frustration

I had heard a lot about voter frustration in the last several days. While the turnout is low (no final figure yet), voters seemed to have made a very clear choice suggesting that their opposition to the DP (perhaps more than support for the MPP) overcame any apathy among voters.

Some of the analysis will have to wait until more turnout details are in and a better sense of the votes that have gone to independents also helps with that.

Analysis

I had expected that Mongolia would be no different than most democracies, i.e. a bad economy spells trouble for governing parties. I didn’t expect the DP to be decimated, but that’s in part due to majoritarian voting rather than a landslide of national sentiment.

There is some speculation that the announcement of a sale of the Russian 49% stake in the Erdenet mine to the (Mongolian) Trade and Development Bank just a day before the vote, might have swayed voters, but it’s unclear to me why this would have swung sentiment toward the MPP or away from the DP.

I do also think that this result is a repudiation of most of the DP leadership. Many of these leaders were not re-elected and the DP thus suffers a result that is in part due to its internal divisions and inability to promote younger leaders into parliament or the public’s eye.

Outlook

In all likelihood (and despite the looming ASEM meeting), the government will not be constituted until an initial session of the State Khural in September. For the duration of the summer, there will thus be an MPP-government-in-waiting.

Stability

Probably the most important implication of this victory is that whatever they decide to do, an MPP government will be relatively stable, particularly by comparison with the faction-ridden DP and the coalitions it had to be involved in.

The MPP’s majority is so sizeable and party discipline within the MPP more rigid that a stable government is to be expected. The parallel victory of the MPP in the Ulaanbaatar city elections (34 seats in city council to DP’s 11) reinforces this stability further.

That stability could be threatened somewhat by the presidential election next year, but the current result means that it is totally unclear who might emerge as DP candidates, or whom the MPP might field. Obviously, a DP president would put a check on the majority MPP government.

In terms of appointments, the MPP has been very careful to squash all speculation so beyond the assumption that M Enkhbold will be prime minister, there really isn’t a strong sense of whom they might appoint, and how many members of cabinet will be MPs.

Revenge

The biggest question about the MPP majority government thus will be whether it decides to “take revenge” on the DP.

One part of this question pertains to the public service where the DP had engaged in a wholesale rotation of an astonishing number of officials. The purported recording of MPP leader Enkhbold discussing patronage appointments suggests that some of this rotation will occur again, but how low in the bureaucratic order will it go? Will the MPP restrain itself and target offices that are meant to be political appointments, say state secretaries, or will this once again mean that we will meet another whole new cast of people in ministries, government bodies, and education?

The second aspect of a potential revenge is the security apparatus. The DP had politicized the judicial system and anti-corruption efforts significantly, so it would not be surprising to see the MPP take over positions and now “go after” political opponents. I hope that instead, the new government will keep the interest of the country and of democracy in mind and not engage in this kind of revenge.

Policy

The MPP campaign did not suggest that any major policy changes are coming. Given the enormous public debt amassed by previous governments, the state budget doesn’t leave much room for any major initiatives. While there be some adjustments and ministerial appointments will determine some of these, I don’t foresee any major changes in foreign policy, economic development or social policy.

Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Ikh Khural 2016, Mongolian People's Party | Tagged | 2 Comments

Early Projections: Landslide Victory for MPP

By Julian Dierkes

Preliminary results are all suggesting a landslide win for MPP, nay, complete rout of DP. Projections are suggesting a majority of over 60 seats for MPP with the DP held to around a dozen seats. Early returns are also suggesting that many DP grands are going down in defeat.

If these results hold, they obviously lead to four years of a MPP majority. Given the significant party discipline in the MPP (much more unified than the DP, even when factional disputes also arise), that suggests stability in the government over the coming four years.

The biggest question the MPP will have to address: will it choose to take “revenge” on the DP (especially on appointments to public service positions, an on the politicization of the security apparatus, and the courts), or will it restrain itself in the name of the good of the country?

Posted in Elections, Ikh Khural 2016, Mongolian People's Party, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tales of Election Observation

By Julian Dierkes

As Mongolia votes today on June 29, I’m feeling a bit left out. I was an election observer in the last four national elections, but am unable to be in Mongolia this time around.

Role of Observers

I do think it bears remembering that election observers can play an important role. Mongolia continues to suffer from a lack of trust in election procedures that has unfortunately not been alleviated by the introduction of the electronic vote counting machineries. What’s worse, however, in my mind, is that many politicians and even many ordinary Mongolians often repeat allegations of electoral fraud without offering any evidence. I think that is corrosive and undermines democracy.

Party Observers

Election observers participate in the election in part to build trust and confidence in the results. That is true for party observers, by far the most numerous group in most polling stations, whose role is focused on assuring their party that nothing untoward was happening in the polling station. These party observers often spend the entire day glued to a rickety chair, carefully noting the number of voters and watching what happens to voters as they present their id, are handed ballots and deposit these ballots. Later they then compare their notes with officially reported totals for voters, etc. They are doing an important job and do it diligently. They deserve other Mongolians’ thanks for participating in the election machinery in this way.

Domestic Observers

Independent domestic observers are getting more numerous with each election. They are intended to report on the election and thus build general trust in the process or, in the unlikely event of observable fraud or irregularities, to report on these. They are often also very dedicated and spend long hours during the election day as well as in days leading up to this day. They also deserve some thanks.

International Observers

International election observers offer yet another layer of independence that is meant to reassure Mongolians about procedures, but also have a secondary mission to report on the election to the rest of the world. They probably also deserve some thanks.

Some international observations have the advantage of being highly organized and also having a developed methodology at their disposal. That is certainly true of the OSCE Election Observation Mission deployed to Mongolia.

So, hug an election observer today, or at least thank them and take note of the contribution to democracy that they’re trying to make.

Joys of Observers

Of course, the role of an observer is also very attractive and rewarding, particularly to a researcher like myself. Observing the election is also an opportunity to observe voters and to learn about how they feel about the process. Asking voters about any infractions against election laws or irregularities in the procedures adds a nice, somewhat random element of observation, but also is a chance to hear about voters’ concerns and hopes.

I have been an observer in Ulaanbaatar three times and once in Uliastay. When I’ve been in Ulaanbaatar I have tried to get around to different districts and often out into Tov Aimag as well. In fact, my sense of Ulaanbaatar as a city largely stems from these drives around the outer districts to visit polling stations.

My Funniest Encounter

There are also very funny moments in election observation.

In 2012 I was observing with then-MAAPPS student Brandon Miliate. We ended up heading out into Tov Aimag past Nalaikh somewhere.We ended up in a Soum centre that had a very nice cultural hall/theatre at its centre where the polling was taking place.

We walked in, I think it was a little after lunch. Often times, in rural polling stations, there isn’t the constant stream of voters that is more typical of the urban ridings, so everyone in the polling station tends to look up when someone walks in. We dutifully displayed our election observers IDs.

Typically, party observers are sitting along a back wall of the polling station at desks. Often times, they would scoot over on their benches or kindly offer us a chair when we come to observe for some period.

In this case, we sat down next to a very old-looking, but definitely elegant lady in a fancy deel with a couple of medals pinned to her chest. Her ID identified her as an MPRP observer.

After a while she asked Brandon where we were from. He answered, “Canada.” To which she replied, “Oh, so your from the Canadian party!”

🙂

That was an interesting thought that we passed on to the Canadian ambassador, Greg Goldhawk, to encourage him to investigate the potential for forming a Canadian party.

 

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What I’m Watching for on Election Night

By Julian Dierkes

Whether or not we’ll see a result already in the night of June 29/30 will depend a bit on how many close races there will be and whether any constituencies will come close to the minimum 50% participation required.

Just because votes are counter electronically, don’t expect instant results. Having been in a vote count in Mongolia before, I know that even after the polling station closes, there will be some delays in terms of preparation for the count, especially in the urban polling stations where there will be many domestic and party election monitors who will be filming, recording, and closely examining every step of the process. Then there are some delays in the votes getting communicated to district/provincial election commission and from there to the General Election Commission. While some results will come more quickly (perhaps around midnight or even a bit before) it may well be that other constituencies won’t report until the early morning hours.

If the result is very close, that might mean, of course, that exact numbers of MPs won’t even be known until some days later (manual recounts, etc.).

Voter Turn-Out

In the last couple of days before polling day, many of my interlocutors have spoken about the resignation and frustration, especially among younger, urban, professional voters. I was expecting as much when I wrote about my fears regarding any protests after the election.

One early sign of whether this frustration is limited to the fairly small demographic of my contacts will be voter turnout. In 2012, 65% of 1,833,000 voters participated. 1,856,000 voters were registered for the presidential election in 2013 of whom 67% participated. In this election, just over 2mio voters have been registered.

Over the last three elections, turnout in parliamentary elections has declined significantly. 2004 82%, 2008 74%, 2012 65%. Obviously, it would be silly to extrapolate from these declines, but given the current mood, I do expect a further drop in turn-out on the scale of these previous declines. That might bring the rate to under 60% which raises the spectre of some constituencies not reaching the 50% quorum.

I would interpret turnout under 60% as a clear sign of frustration with the choices offered in this election, including the lack of choices beyond the two large parties given the exclusion of smaller parties through changes in the election law. Voter turnout below 58% I would see as a sign of serious trouble for the election itself, but more importantly for democracy, given the frustrations that Mongolians have expressed with political institutions in polls.

Coalition Constellations

Ahead of the election, my ranking of resulting coalitions in terms of their likelihood would be:

  1. grand coalition led by MPP
  2. MPP + MPRP/independents
  3. MPP
  4. grand coalition led by DP
  5. DP + MPRP/independents

Independents

I will be surprised if any non-incumbent independents manage to win a seat. I would also interpret this primarily as a sign of frustration with MANAN (as MPP [MAH] and DP [AH] are referred to in combination).

Women Candidates

One of the changes that came late in the revisions of the electoral system (and was not mandated by a court decision), was a reduction of the women candidate quota from 30% – 20%. With this, the two big parties ended up right where the quota required them, i.e. with 16 female candidates. Of the total 498 candidates 129 are women, or 26%.  There are 27 constituencies that don’t have a single female candidate.

Given these numbers, it seems unlikely that the next State Great Khural will include more women than the last one and an actual decline in the number doesn’t seem out of the question.

If there’s no increase in women’s representation (or possibly even some loss of numbers), that would be especially unfortunate, as the non-partisan Women’s Caucus has been fairly active and effective during the past four years.

Posted in Elections, Ikh Khural 2016, Party Politics, Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Guest Post: Reflections of Mining in 2016 Campaign Platforms

By Enkhbat A

Different Approaches to Mining

The Mongolian parliamentary election will take place on June 29, 2016. There are 13 parties and 3 coalitions campaigning for the upcoming election. A brief analysis has been conducted on the four political entities, Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), Democratic Party (DP), Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) and “Independence and Unity” coalition.  All these entities are campaigning with more than 39 candidates and hoping to qualify to establish a government.  Their platforms were reviewed and commented by the National Audit Authority and were posted on the Mongolian Election Commission’s website.

Mining industry development and policy were not reflected in the MPRP platform. But the objective section has a declarative statement that says that Mongolian mineral reserves are the foundation of the happy life of the public. On the other hand, the “Independence and Unity” coalition included a quite general objective of establishing mining and metallurgical complex, transferring the strategically important mining projects to state ownership, justly monitor the Oyu Tolgoi project, leave Tavan Tolgoi deposit to public ownership,  and to implement principles of environmental “pollutant as payers” and “users are protectors”

Platforms of MPP and DP

As for the two biggest political entities, the election platforms of the MPP and DP introduced mining development and policy in details in particular. The MPP platform’s Chapter 2 (Economic Policy) and section 2.4 (Mining Development) and the DP platform’s Chapter 3 (Mining) were devoted to parties’ discussions of their mining development and policy.

The MPP concluded that the current investment in mining is reduced by 4 times and proposed their solution. As for the DP, they proposed to sustain the stability and growth in the export income from mining sector.  The following table illustrates the difference and main objectives of the two parties.

MPP DP

2.4.1 To create the most favourable legal and economic environment for inviting the well-known global companies and to produce value-added, final products from the natural resources destined for the global market.

2.4.5 To improve the operations of the State-Owned Enterprise “Erdenes Mongol”; to create conditions to distribute benefits of the large companies like Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi, and Erdenet to every citizen.

2.4.7 To keep the state’s involvement in mining projects at the proper level and to prioritize policies to collect taxes and royalties.

2.4.8 To streamline the legal coordination and policy for citizens cooperate in artisanal mining sector as stated in the article 3.1.2 of the “State’s Policy for the Minerals Sector”.

·  To develop human resources and to increase employments in the mineral sector.

· To increase the deposits of strategically important mines such as Tavan Tolgoi coal and Erdenet copper and molybdenum; to start mining operations at Asgat silver, Gatsuurt gold, and Tsagaan Suvarga copper mines; to support the implementation of the underground mining of Oyu Tolgoi.

· To issue mining licenses on the basis of prior consultation with the local community and to make the license issuing processes, monitoring, and data bases transparent.

· To support the introduction of new techniques and technology and re-processing of the mining industry waste with policies.

· To prohibit all activities related to nuclear waste in the territory of Mongolia.

· To intensify the exploration for the discovery of new oil fields. To develop a policy concerning the oil sector up to 2030. To increase the annual oil production to 1.7 million ton and income of the export to 500 billion tugrug.

· To establish the foundation for a coal refining industry.

· To approve the regulation and standards for the usage, storage, transportation, and sale of gas and liquid fuel in order to provide the public safety.

Drawing from the table, MPP declared its intention to increase foreign investment in the mining sector, ensure appropriate involvement of the state in the mining deposits and companies, and obtain payments through taxes and royalties for use of mineral resources. On the other hand, the DP centres their mining policy on human resources, equipment, technology development and production in addition to prohibiting all activities related to nuclear waste, developing oil shale production, and improving natural gas safety and security. In brief, the MPP announces that they will create environments to increase foreign investment, and reduce state involvement in the mining sector. But the DP’s policy proposes to develop and bridge the mining sector with the industrialization and strengthen the state monitoring of the sector.

TT Shares, Industrialization, and Environment

Also, both parties platform includes similar objectives to increase the value of 1072 stocks of Tavantolgoi, establish a fund from the revenue from the mining sector, improving mining closure and reclamation, develop transparent and responsible mining, increase public participation, improving legal environment for the artisanal mining and gold procurement, create geological central database, carry out researches and the mapping , and create favourable investment environment for the mineral resources sector.

Furthermore, both parties propose in their platforms that they will develop manufacturing sector based on the mineral resources, and process the mineral products. The MPP states specific names of mining projects and proposed the processing of the minerals in contrary to the DP’s proposal to develop the mining complex and industrial zones.

The environmental chapters in the parties’ platforms also included sections related to mining. The MPP highlights to work in mining reclamation and importance of improving public participation in it and the DP put forward the proposal to protect drinking water, sourcing water from rivers with outflow for the mining projects.

In addition, the DP signals that they will give priority to the extractives sector development within the economic framework and will secure safety reserves of the energy and fuel sources by increasing the capacity of specific projects.

Mining has remained as one of the central themes in the party platforms and been regarded as the main economic leverage; thus demonstrating that Mongolia has become a mining country.

About Enkhbat A

Dr. Enkhbat is associate professor in the Department of Humanities of the School of Business Administration and Humanities of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. His special areas of interests are history of Mongolian mining and comparative examination of mining history of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia.

Posted in CIRDI, Democratic Party, Economics, Elections, Enkhbat Avirmed, Environment, Ikh Khural 2016, Mining, Mining, Mining Governance, Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party | Tagged | Leave a comment

Changing of the DP Guard?

By Julian Dierkes

My sense is that there is not only significant frustration with the concrete implementation of democracy and its institutions in Mongolia, but more specifically with the two big political parties, MAHAH.

One of the frustrations I have heard regularly recently comes especially from young people who see the DP in particular as unable to refresh itself through leadership change and to thus represent the views and voices of younger voters.

I will therefore look quite keenly at the results of the June 29 election for an indication of this kind of generational frustration.

Any Indication of Changing of Guard in DP

The past four years of DP-led governments have been turbulent in part due to the internal party dynamics of the party where faction leaders have often seemed to be looking out much more for themselves personally, than for the party, or the nation.

Given the first-past-the-post electoral system, this election will give some constituencies the opportunity to judge some of these prominent DP leaders or their performance.

While someone like “Genco” Battulag seems to be fairly firmly ensconced in Bayankhongor and it would be quite an upset if L Eldev-Ochir managed to beat him in constituency 9.

Speaker of the UIX, Z Enkhbold, has a much tougher battle on his hands in Bayangol (70). He is running against incumbent D Lundevsanjan (MPP). But it also appears that independent candidate X Gankhuyag has made quite a push in this constituency, possibly making this one of the most competitive 3-way races.

Former PM N Altankhuyag is running in one of only two constituencies of only two candidates. That should give him a pretty good chance to be elected. PM Ch Saikhanbileg’s chances should also be good in Bayanzurkh. Frm foreign minister L Bold may have a bit of a tougher race in Khan-Uul, but he is a fairly effective campaigner.

So, among the prominent DP incumbents, Z Enkhbold and Genco may be most interesting to watch for an indication of some kind of changing-of-the-guard that is enforced by the electorate rather than through internal party processes.

Posted in Democracy, Democratic Party, Demography, Ikh Khural 2016, Politics, Social Issues, Younger Mongolians | Tagged | Leave a comment

Election Day

By Julian Dierkes

The spectre of the July 1 2008 riots still loom over Mongolian elections. While full explanations never really emerged, it seems that those riots were a combination of some orchestration of protests, the latent potential for protests in frustrations about the election, as well as a lack of preparation by the police.

If those were the factors that led to violence, then – fortunately – two of these factors don’t hold for the coming election on June 29 or its immediate aftermath:

  1. Since the 2008 riots, the police has been preparing systematically for incidents of unrest. Presumably that preparation means that any unrest would be handled more professionally, i.e. with a focus on de-escalation and appropriate responses.
  2. If there was some orchestration of protests in 2008, neither of the two main parties is likely to plan anything similar this year, in part because there is a widespread sense that 2008 was a very regrettable blip that was bad for Mongolia, and so should not be repeated.

Voter Frustration

Yet, I do see some reasons to be nervous about the immediate aftermath of the election because I see a number of factors that are likely to leave some voters frustrated. This frustration coupled with the general social ferment brought about by unemployment, lack of opportunity, and lack of prospects in some parts of Ulaanbaatar especially, is a potentially explosive mix.

Frustration about the Result: Parties

Given the dismal performance of the Mongolian economy over the past four years and the infighting and some chaos that has characterized the DP government, a thorough defeat of the DP would not be surprising. Yet, changes to the electoral law that set up hurdles for smaller parties, may mean that the Great Khural will be roughly divided between the MPP and the DP with only a few independents making it into parliament as non-big party MPs. Whether or not the MPP ends up winning or coming close to a majority of 39 seats, it now looks likely that the DP will return with relatively strong representation.

Frustration about the Results: Options

Why might the DP return a strong showing? Well, in part because of manipulations of the election system. But the other element that I have been hearing a lot about is voters’ frustration with the lack of alternatives. That is in part frustration with the self-destruction of the XUN Party and the apparent dissolution (as a parliamentary force) of the CWGP. For a brief moment last year, XUN inspired some who were looking for more professional politicians, with more real world and foreign experience, and a dedication to anti-corruption efforts, me included.

The other part of this frustration is that a significant portion of the electorate, especially in Ulaanbaatar, is likely committed to vote against the MPP and the MPRP, but also disappointed by the DP’s government. That doesn’t leave such a voter a lot of options.

A further contributing factor to the sense of a lack of options is that there are very few new faces coming up in either of the big parties. Only 21 of the 76 constituencies don’t have an incumbent in the race. This is certainly the case for the DP which continues to be dominated by some of its founders and “democratic revolution heroes” who are all ageing and remain stuck in their factional ruts. There is no obvious force for rejuvenation that has any parts of the electorate particularly excited as far as I can tell.

In the MPP, there are at least some structures for a generation turnover in place, but at the same time, there isn’t much buzz around any of the current leadership or some of the younger faces that are making their way through the party structure.

Doubts about the Results

Unfortunately, some doubting of the election results has been a common feature in past elections. Not only was this ostensibly the motivation for the July 1 riots, but the whole discussion of the “black machines” has been characterized by deep-seated mistrust of the counting and reporting process.

Presumably, the 2004 electoral system with 76 majoritarian districts should make the counting relatively straight-forward. Having said that, the deployment of electronic counting in 2012 did not bring the expected/desired speed in the counting-process in part because there are significant enough delays along the way that the process is not as easy as 1, 2, 3, count, report, aggregate. Out of fear about the aftermath of the election, results came very quickly on the morning after the election in 2012. But if the result is not entirely clear and/or if some constituencies might not reach the minimum required 50% participation, the results might be somewhat delayed. Any such delay will fuel speculation and doubt, in part because those are the default reactions to discussions about the counting process.

Ulaanbaatar in late June

One factor makes this election different, of course, the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit, July 15-16, with numerous heads of state and heads of government expected in town less than three weeks after the election.

Because of this event and the international visibility that will come with it for Mongolia, I’m sure that the government and all officials in the security apparatus will do everything to avoid protests or – worse – any kind of violence following the election.

I would not be surprised if alcohol was banned earlier than just the day before the election. Arrests of potential agitators appear to be happening already. On the election night itself, the police will be discretely omnipresent, I suspect.

However, what if the frustrations I foresee do boil over and express themselves in somewhat spontaneous protests, perhaps not in the centre of Ulaanbaatar but on the edge of the central area, for example? If anything were to escalate, the security forces would obviously be very reluctant to respond with any kind of force, as some parts of the world will be watching very closely in anticipation of the ASEM summit. But if protests turn violent and are not met with a forceful response? What happens if there is intermittent rioting for three nights running because no one actually wants to declare a state of emergency that close to a summit? Are there contingency plans to cancel/move ASEM?

What about races that end up undecided or close to it by some days after the election? Would the election commission then suddenly wave the minimum 50% threshold simply to force a result? How would such a decision be received?

Bottom Line

I am not quite predicting riots, but I would not be surprised if they did occur. While I was fairly certain in 2012 that the election and the reporting of results was going to pass smoothly, I am much less certain of that this year.

Posted in Elections, Ikh Khural 2016, Protest, Security Apparatus | Tagged | Leave a comment