By Julian Dierkes
[Byamba contributed significantly to this post.]
One of the factors that contributed to the riots of July 1, 2008 was uncertainty about the election outcome due to delays and a lack of trust in the counting of votes. This uncertainty in turn was at least in part rooted in the complicated nature of the multi-member multi-vote election system that had been adopted at the end of 2007.
Now it is the year 2011, Mongolia is gearing up for its next parliamentary election and the Ikh Khural appears to have passed revisions to the electoral law that not only surpass the previous law in complicatedness, but also face a possible constitutional challenge.
Changes to the electoral law that were passed yesterday (Dec 14) suggest that the election will be held on the 3rd or 4th Wednesday of June, June 20 or June 27, 2012.
How do you make an election law that features multiple votes in multi-member electoral ridings more complicated? You graft an element of proportional representation by national party lists on top of that.
As far as I have been able to understand, the June/July election will be contested in the same 26 electoral districts (20 aimags + six urban ridings in Ulaanbaatar) that sent 2, 3 or 4 members to the Ikh Khural based on a simple majoritarian election, but with multiple votes per voter depending on the number of seats up for grabs. It is unclear whether voters will have multiple votes under the new system or cast a single vote in their riding. If the latler is the case, it is unclear how multiple seats in ridings will be distributed. This mechanism will be used in the upcoming election to distribute 48 of the seats in the Ikh Khural. That means some aimags will presumably have a single member. Rural overrepresentation compared to population base will continue.
The 26 remaining seats to make up the 76-member Ikh Khural will be distributed according to a second vote for parties that will be contested on the basis of a national party list by proportional representation with a 5% minimum threshold to gain any seats.
Here is where the constitutional problem enters the scene: The constitution provides that eligible Mongolians shall vote for candidates, i.e. individuals, by name, not parties. There thus looms the possibility that a ballot that lists parties rather than candidates is open to a constitutional challenge.
No word yet on changes to voter registration which was highly problematic in 2008 other than that Mongolians living abroad will be able to vote, though I don’t know yet how this will work.
The final, though welcome, wrinkle is that a 20% women’s quota was introduce into the election law. 20% of nominated candidates have to be women. In 2007 there was originally a 30% quota that was abandoned at the last moment out of practical concerns, or so the argument went. Note that the Ikh Khural currently has 3 female members!