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.

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