Following some Mongolian Olympic fun yesterday, we had a number of discussions with others trying to follow the election here in Ulaanbaatar about the relationship between individual candidates and political parties.
I think that everyone continues to agree that the major parties do not generally stand for any specific ideological orientation, though they do present themselves differently with some of their policies.
While the MPP seems to be emphasizing some of the concrete plans it has to improve citizens’ lives, the DP is portraying itself as a different kind of a political party with an emphasis of dedication to citizens and clean government.
On the outdoor advertising that we described in an earlier post, a very large share of the posters are for individual candidates, though showing the party logo. Thus they are aimed at voters in a specific riding and their candidate vote, perhaps assuming that the party vote might benefit from a preference for a specific party candidate. This focus on candidates is also evident in the flyers that are distributed to households and arrive in our apartment as well.
By contrast, advertising on TV is much broader and much more focused on the parties. In this, we learned a lot from Mike Kohn (who lives in Ulaanbaatar, blogs about its parks, tweets, and writes for Agence France Press). In these advertisements, it is generally the parties that are at the centre of the message. Frequently these TV ads are spiced up with appearances by pop stars. The airwaves seem to be dominated by ads from the DP and MPP with other parties only making rare appearances.
The differences in advertising strategies are interesting in that a changed electoral system (the introduction of 28/76 proportional representation seats) implies a change in strategy and resource allocation by the parties and this seems to be visible in these campaign strategies at least by the big parties.
For both parties, their leaders (Batbold for the MPP, Altankhuyag for the DP) do not seem to be playing a particularly prominent role, they are not Spitzenkandidaten as party leaders are in Germany, for example, where they run for seats in parliament, but also present themselves as future chancellors or state premiers.
A number of Mongolian parliamentarians and candidates are very active on Twitter. Some are even very active and clearly rely on Twitter as a way to communicate with fellow candidates but also to be in dialogue with some voters. While I haven’t explored Facebook as much in this regard, the level of activity there seems to be high as well. Surprisingly, however, social media do not make an appearance in party ads at all. There are no URLs, Twitter or Facebook handles listed on campaign posters or in TV ads, though they do make an occasional appearance on materials from the smaller parties or individual candidates’ websites. Their is virtually no social media presence by the parties themselves as far as I can tell.