Politics in Mongolia is always interesting, dynamic, and puzzling – especially, towards elections. I like to challenge Julian’s earlier post about the potential for a run-off in the presidential election and argue that the incumbent has a strong likelihood of winning outright; therefore, runoff is unlikely.
First, President Elbegdorj, despite the small margin of victory over the MPP candidate in 2009, still leads the public opinion polls – regarded one of the strongest politicians. Of course, with doubts in public opinion polls (without clear understanding of their methodology and degree of objectiveness), Elbegdorj appears to hold a relatively high ratings.
Second, Elbegdorj didn’t made any visible mistakes in last four years. His attempts to strengthen the mining regime, to increase public participation in the policy-making processes (e.g., Citizen’s Hall), to advocate the devolution of power to locality, to discourage alcohol consumptions, and to promote Mongolia’s international image (e.g., extensive travels, visibility in foreign media and forums) were important contributions to our democracy, governance, and sovereignty.
Third, his critical approach to the MPP-led government was appealing. However, as the election nears, he seems to be caught up in constraints of the current political and economic structures. He became noticeably silent about questionable behaviours of his former party (technically, he must be politically neutral when he is holding the power of presidency). On these three points, he would easily get enough votes to secure his second term.
DP Dominance of the Political Structure
Then, there are reasonable beliefs about the DP dominance in the political structure – which provides protection at minimum and support at maximum. Clearly, the DP is not playing by key governance principles (e.g., rule of law, transparency, equal opportunity). Following the MPRP’s ‘winner take all’ principle of 2000, the DP has already used similar tactics. Now we see repeated pattern of ‘winner take all’ from the DP take-over in 1996, the MPRP in 2000, and now in 2012.
First, the DP and its coalition didn’t consult with other political actors and public when changing the key electoral laws (Law on Local Elections and importantly, Law on the Presidential Election).
Second, the DP now took over all key agencies in charge of organizing, monitoring, and enforcing the elections. DP-affilliated politicians are now heading the General Election Commission, the Police Department, the General Intelligence Agency, and Chief Prosector’s Office. The DP has already taken over key state-owned enterprises and financial institutions. All these institutions, in principle, should be politically neutral and professionally administered.
Third, the majority of provinces are now lead by the DP-affilliated politicians. Although it is difficult to know how much influence these DP-affilliated politicians are asserting at the local level, the likelihood is very high when one looks at behaviours of the DP politicians in the national government.
With his own mostly positive profile of the last four years and the DP’s dominance in domestic politics, Elbegdorj is likely to win a second term presidency; therefore, run-off appears to be unlikely – especially, when the economy is enjoying growth and bonds.