By Mendee Jargalsaikhan and Julian Dierkes
The role of social media continues to be something that we are watching closely. The most notable example of social-mediated democracy was Ch Saikhanbileg’s 2015 SMS poll. But, despite Mongolian politicians’ early embrace of social media (see my list of current MPs on Twitter as an example), we’ve also noted that the influence of social media in the 2016 parliamentary election, for example, was limited.
Social Media Polling for Anti-Corruption Appointments?
On April 24, the President’s Chief of Staff Z Enkhbold officially announced President Battulga’s “unique” decision of sharing his responsibility of nominating Chief and Deputy Chief for the Independent Authority Against Corruption with the public. According to Enkhbold, citizens would nominate their candidates for Chief and Deputy Chief separately through the presidential office website (email@example.com). For more on the general structure of the IIAC see our previous blog post.
After a week, on May 2, the presidential website noted that 6,405 people responded to the nomination. 6,382 people nominated 179 candidates for the post of Chief while 5,657 people nominated 317 candidates for the post of Deputy Chief.
The top ten nominees included five former police colonels and others, including Z Enkhbold, “Buyan” Jargalsaikhan, Chairman of the Mongolian Republican Party, and G Baasan, a civil society activist, as the only women among these most-nominated individuals. Since the Anti-Corruption Law requires a minimum of years of public service experience (i.e., 15 years of public service experience for the Chief’s nomination and 10 years for Deputy Chief), legal training, and not holding political posts for 5 years prior to the nomination, only police officers seemed to meet the requirements.
On May 4 the President submitted the nominations of D Davaa-Ochir (police colonel) as Chief and J Batsaikhan (police colonel) as Deputy Chief to parliament. Davaa-Ochir is a former Deputy Chief of the Authority for Implementation of Court Decision (the marshal service) and Chief of the Secretariat for the National Security Council, which falls under the President’s portfolio. Batsaikhan used to work as a Chief of the Department of IAAC in 2007-2016 and Deputy Chief of the marshal service afterwards.
Social Media Democracy?
Following the presidential submission of candidates, on May 8, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice voted in favour of not discussing the presidential nominations because the president had violated the prescribed nomination procedures for senior leaders of the IAAC.
— GoGo Mongolia (@GoGoMongolia) May 10, 2018
This seems an odd response since the President seems to have only solicited nominations. He did not put these nominations to an SMS or Twitter poll popular vote, but let himself be inspired by the list of individuals suggested by citizens. Were Davaa-Ochir and Batsaikhan on any short list that might have been prepared in the President’s office prior to the call for nominations? We don’t know.
It seems like anti-corruption agencies are a particularly thorny governance challenge. They need maximal independence from incumbent politicians to be credible in investigating government-linked corruption, but there is also a sense of “who watches the watchers” and a need for democratic legitimation for anti-corruption activities. The nomination poll is a very minor step toward a reimagining anti-corruption governance, but it seems worth further consideration.