Table of Candidates, Parliamentary Elections 2024

By Marissa J. Smith

I’ve put together an Airtable of candidates, available at this link:
https://airtable.com/app4qRxMRvaDmDLsg/shrJ1RxjGJL3QeSWz

(Click here to see detailed changelog)

6/12/23 – 6/13/24: The table has been updated based on the elections coverage platform at ikon.mn. Changes here:

Democratic Party
#24 – N. Javzanpagma -> N. Baigalmaa
#28 – I. Narantuya -> E. Badamgarav
#29 – D. Amartuvshin -> Ts. Tserentogtokh
#38 – L. Otgontsetseg -> T. Tsatsral
#39 D. Altangerel -> B. Munkhgerel
#43 S. Yumenkhuu to #48
Toirog #5 – Darkhan, Selenge, Tuv
S. Bayartsogt replaced by L. Odbayar
Toirog #9 – Bayangol
B. Battulga replaced by Ts. Tavanchuluu

KhUN
#29 U. Unenkhuu removed [not replaced, party list now has only 47 candidates]
Toirog #2 – Govi-Altai, Zavkhan, Khovd, Uvs
S. Byambaasuren replaced by M. Byambadorj

Civic Unity Party
Toirog #1 – Arkhangai, Uvurkhangai, Bayankhongor
D. Bas-Orgil Removed

National Coalition
#1 Nomtoibayar removed
#6 N. Khulan removed
#13 D. Enkhbat -> D. Bekhbat
Toirog #1 – Arkhangai, Uvurkhangai, Bayankhongor
D. Odontuya -> D. Odontungalag
Toirog #10 – Sukhbaatar, Chingeltei
L. Bayarkhuu removed
D. Ganbold removed

Mongolian Conservative Party
Toirog #4 – Bulgan, Khuvsgul, Orkhon
T. Erdenetsetseg added

5/31/24: We’ve added candidates for Oyungerel’s Civic Unity Party and the National Coalition and will continue to add other candidate listings as they are announced by parties and as we have time to input them.
5/22/24: For now, this is based on information from three parties (MPP, DP, and KhUN) and the media; these candidates have NOT obtained their final candidate cards, i.e. their candidacy is still being reviewed by the General Election Commission.

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Election Talk around Town

By Julian Dierkes

I’ve only been in Ulaanbaatar for a couple of days, but I am having lots of conversations with contacts about the election. As Mendee keeps emphasizing, I may be the person in Ulaanbaatar who is most excited about the election.

Here are some snippets of some of these conversations then.

Voting Process

There are some obvious concerns about voters’ understanding of how they will actually cast their ballot. This is not surprising given the significant shift from purely first-past the post voting, albeit in multi-member districts, to a mix of direct election and a proportional vote where the direct election is happening in enlarged districts with a greater number of seats. I do not hear this worry from Mongolian contacts so much and they may share my confidence in the General Election Commission on voter education. Every parliamentary election since 2008 has seen a different electoral system, yet when I have had the chance as an election observers to ask voters whether they are confident that they know how to vote, the answers have been almost universally positive.

 

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I have already seen several elements in the GEC voter education campaign around town as in the above. The GEC also set up a polling station simulation on Sukhbaatar Sq last week which struck me as a very innovative idea, though I do not know whether this was replicated around the country.

The greater concern may be around the time that voting will take. Given the size of the ballot (some voters will be voting for 10 seats in multi-member districts) there is some work to be done in the voting booth. Ballots will not be valid unless the voter casts the number of votes that correspond to the number of seats contested in that constituency. If the voter lives in a seven-seat constituency, they have to cast seven direct election votes for the ballot to be valid. Apparently, voters get one re-do if they have not filled out the ballot accordingly and that will slow the process down even more. While it would be possible to add additional voting booths, the number of election machines that the ballot is deposited in is limited, so that lines may well form to insert the ballot which could create a bit of a traffic jam in actually casting the ballot. Note that the forced choice for all the available seats may lead to a greater number of spoiled ballots as voters might resent this. All of this may then lead to significant delays at polling stations which might turn some voters off from voting all-together.

I can only speculate that this might lead some to vote straight party slates to facilitate the voting, while others might deliberately mix their choices (3 candidates from one party 4 from another, etc.). I do not think that observers or party strategists have much of a chance to model voting strategies around this question so that we will not know from the results what voters might have chosen to do.

DP

There is a sense that the DP has botched its candidate nomination process. Not only was the process itself bumpy, but there is little excitement about the candidates nominated to the party lists. There are just too few new or young faces to generate excitement, or so goes the widely-held perception. If that perception remains and is indeed widely held, the DP might not benefit as much from the desire for a chance in government that some voters might hold.

MPP

By contrast, many people seem quite impressed by how the MPP has handled the party list. This might be partly just their attempt to sell the party list, but many contacts of mine agree that they knew hardly anyone at the top of the party list, thus giving off a strong sense of new and fresh candidates.

Campaigning: TV

A number of contacts mentioned how much they were enjoying the candidate debates on TenGer TV. A sense that candidates actually had a chance to talk about substance and to show themselves to voters. Note, however, that the views on YouTube are in the low thousands, so perhaps the impact remains limited.

Campaigning: Poster Boards

Here is something that definitely is new: centralized poster boards with assigned spots for candidates. This has been common in Japan for a long time where I have seen it during many elections, perhaps this exists elsewhere. I was a bit surprised today that the poster board I saw was tucked away on the inside of a residential block, not an area that is likely to see much foot traffic and it appears that there are only limited numbers of these boards.

New #Mongolia campaign style: public poster boards with assigned fields for candidates.
#Сонгууль #Сонгууль2024 #MGLpoli

[image or embed]

— Mongolia Focus (@mongoliafocus.bsky.social) Jun 13, 2024 at 10:03 PM

Other than the scant poster boards, campaigning in the urban core of Ulaanbaatar has been quiet, maybe even subdued.

Speculation

Among those who are interested in this election, there seems to be a popular game of trying to predict likely results. Given the absence of public polls, this really is a guessing game more than a prediction. But for the 48 seats that will be distributed by proportional representation, this guessing can be broken down into the number of votes a party might need relative to the number it may have gotten in the past. Divide the roughly 1.5m voters that are an easy-to-calculate guess at voter participation by 48 (seats), and you have a sense of how many votes may be needed to win a seat for a party, presuming that the minimum threshold will be met. The number of votes for parties that will not have met that minimum will change that number of votes for those parties winning seats, but this is still a rough guideline. Based on all of that, I’ve got some guesses in my mind, do you?

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Guest Post: Political Parties’ Election Platforms on Higher Education

By Orkhon Gantogtokh

This review focuses on how 19 political parties and 2 coalitions that submitted their election platforms reflect higher education (university level education) in their platforms, based on comparisons available at iKON and iToim. The analysis includes how many objectives each party has on higher education extracted from their platforms in iToim, the areas of higher education they cover, and the specificity of their objectives. Here, I summarize the main actions of the five parties with the most objectives in higher education, followed by an overall summary of the remaining parties’ objectives.

Democratic Party

The Democratic Party (DP) stands out with its specific section on higher education, having the highest number of objectives (21 objectives) related to higher education. For comparison, the Mongolian People’s Party, Citizen Will Party, and United Party of Patriots each have 6 objectives, the National Labour Party has 5 objectives, and other parties have fewer than 4 objectives in higher education.

The Democratic Party places significant emphasis on research capacity building in alignment with the country’s socio-economic development to strengthen the knowledge society. Specific objectives include increasing research funding to 1% of GDP from the current rate of 0.1%, recognizing research as a public good, establishing a matching fund to strengthen university-industry research partnerships, increasing funding for interdisciplinary research addressing socio-economic problems, investing in research faculty, and improving research management. They also focus on faculty development, attracting diaspora academics to work in Mongolian universities, providing scholarships to faculty members to study for PhDs abroad, and improving their English skills to retain talented scholars in public universities. They prioritize the autonomy of public universities through specific changes in higher education law, increasing the number of external members on university governing boards, and making professional associations like the Quality Assurance Agency more autonomous. They aim to establish a campus for regional higher education and increase the number of scholarship recipients studying abroad. The Democratic Party’s objectives are specific and cover the widest range of higher education areas, including university governance, autonomy, academic freedom, research management and funding, university and industry partnerships, student fees, scholarships, faculty development, life-long learning through micro-credentials, quality assurance, campus development, and alignment of academic programs with practicum opportunities.

Mongolian People’s Party

The Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) has 6 objectives directly related to higher education. Their objectives include general statements about improving the link between university and industry through research, increasing research funding, and establishing an ecosystem of research. They have a specific objective of supporting two universities in reaching the global top 1000 in university rankings. They also support regional higher education to meet labor market needs, attract diaspora academics, support teacher education colleges, and aim to increase student scholarships through a transparent system. While their objectives are fewer and more general compared to the opposition party, they include ambitious goals, such as improving Mongolian university’s rankings in the global standing, but do not specify how.

Civil Will-Green Party and United Party of Patriots

These two parties have relatively numerous objectives (6 each) in higher education among the parties not represented in the current parliament. The United Party of Patriots aims to elevate higher education to a global level, improve university human resources through merit-based recruitment, allow global and Asian top universities to open branches in Mongolia, elevate the status of science and research through better funding and recognition, support university-industry partnerships through state recognition, and provide scholarships for talented first and second-year students to study abroad. The Civil Will-Green Party emphasizes research, labor market alignment of academic programs, and education funding systems, and stands out with its focus on increasing part-time work opportunities for students.

KhUN

The KhUN (National Labour) Party has surprisingly few objectives, considering many of its members are from academia. However, some of their objectives are different and specific. They aim to develop universities as innovation-based institutions, foster university-industry partnerships, improve university governance through greater autonomy, align academic policies with labor market needs, and instill market principles in higher education by decreasing the number of poor-quality universities through stricter criteria, including higher university entrance scores. They also emphasize flexible pathways to higher education, a shorter period of studies through accepting high school credits and supporting the link between secondary schools and universities through career development programs.

Other Parties

The parties that have 3 objectives related to higher education include the New United Coalition, Mongolian Liberal Democratic Party, Motherland Party, Social Democratic Party, and United Party of Good Democrats. The National Coalition and Power of the Masses Party have 2 objectives. The Republican Party, the Party For Mongolian Humanity, the Truth and Justice Party, Masses’ Majority Governance Party, and Civic Unity Party each have one objective. The majority of these parties have similar general objectives, emphasizing research universities, alignment of academic programs with labor market needs, quality assurance of higher education, and research funding systems. The Freedom Implementation Party, Civil Movement Party, and Freedom Alliance Party do not have specific objectives directly related to higher education.

To summarize, it is commendable to see that the majority of parties’ election platforms emphasize improving university governance through granting autonomy, supporting research at universities through better funding, fostering university-industry partnerships, enhancing faculty development through better human resource management, and aligning academic programs with labor market needs. Many of them emphasize increasing scholarships to study abroad through a more transparent funding system, which may be related to the recent scandal associated with foreign study scholarships. Several parties also aim to improve regional higher education, quality assurance mechanisms, flexible pathways, and funding and fees for students. In their overall education-related objectives, most parties seem to focus more on basic and secondary education, whereas the Democratic Party provides a more balanced approach across all levels of education with a comprehensive and specific focus on higher education in its platform.

About Orkhon

Orkhon Gantogtokh is a PhD candidate in Education Studies at the University of British Columbia. She has been actively engaged with the higher education reform processes of Mongolia with her civic engagement, research activities, and involvement in national-level projects. She has led the higher education sub-committee of the Education Reform Movement, an NGO established in 2019 to address the low quality of education in Mongolia. She completed an MSc in Higher Education at the University of Oxford in 2016. Her professional experience includes positions at the University of British Columbia as a Researcher and Academic Policy Assistant, Higher Education Reform Project as a HE Specialist, the London School of Economics Enterprise as a Researcher, Mongolian National Council for Education Accreditation as a Research and Partnership Manager, and NUM and MUST as a Higher Education Consultant and Mongolian Academy for Higher Education Development as Executive Director.

Posted in Education, Elections, Higher Education, Ikh Khural 2024, Orkhon Gantogtokh, Party Politics, Politics, Public Policy | Leave a comment

Constituency Competitiveness

By Julian Dierkes

With the men’s European Championship in football about to start, one might ask if any of the constituencies in the election are a “group of death” like Group D in the Euro where Austria, France, the Netherlands and Poland will be facing off.

For the direct election seats, constituencies will vary as to how fiercely competitive they may appear with some constituencies having more prominent and intuitively viable candidates nominated for the total number of available seats than other ridings.

Assuming that all constituencies will reach the prescribed minimum threshold of 50% voter turnout, election in these constituencies will be by simple ranking of the number of votes received. In a riding with three seats, for example, the top three vote-getters will be elected.

Two factors that might make candidates more or less competitive may be the prominence of candidates running in the riding, and the number of incumbents running.

Prominent Candidates

Prominence is obviously a subjective criterion in that it involves our judgement of a candidate’s visibility and name-recognition. As direct election implies a focus on the individual candidate, party affiliations may be less important in determining a candidate’s chances, especially since the party list vote offers voters the opportunity to express a more general preference for one party over another.

If prominence also implies that candidates have some sway with party organizations in terms of where they have been nominated, we assume that they’ve made some calculation of their electoral chances in a particular constituency. This is particularly interesting in cases like N Altankhuyag who had previously been elected in Erdenet but is now running in Songinokhairkhan or Kh Battulga who had been elected in Bayankhongor when he was an MP, but is now running in constituency 4.

We have listed some notable candidates in a previous post.

Incumbency

While we did not quantify the (incrementally greater) likelihood of election for incumbents in past elections, we are assuming that incumbents have some advantage in upcoming elections. That advantage is based on previous campaign experience and the opportunity of “shadow campaigning” ahead of the official campaign period as MPs. In a previous post we have offered some observation of incumbency in the current set of candidates.

If we take incumbency to be an advantage, we can look at different constituencies in terms of the proportion of incumbents running to available seats.

 

Constituency # of Incumbents/
# of Seats
Standardized
# of Incumbents/
# of Seats
# of Candidates/
#of Seats
Standardized
# of Candidates/
# of Seats
1 5/9 56/100 9/80 11/100
2 7/10 70/100 10/115 9/100
3 2/3 67/100 3/23 13/100
4 6/8 75/100 8/86 9/100
5 6/10 60/100 10/119 8/100
6 4/7 57/100 7/76 9/100
7 5/7 71/100 7/78 9/100
8 1/5 20/100 5/83 6/100
9 2/3 67/100 3/50 6/100
10 2/6 33/100 6/90 7/100
11 2/5 40/100 5/85 6/100
12 0/3 0/100 3/49 6/100
13 1/2 50/100 2/32 6/100

The most incumbents relative to available seats are thus running in constituency 4, 7, 2, while constituencies 12, 8, 10 are the leasts competitive. Note that these three most competitive constituencies are outside of Ulaanbaatar while the least competitive are all Ulaanbaatar constituencies.

Update (June 13, 2024):
Thanks to Bulgan‘s efforts, I added the last two columns to the above table. Note that by looking at the measure of candidates/seats, the city constituencies are more competitive than the countryside, i.e. there are more candidates running for the number of seats contested. By this measure, Bayan-Ulgii (constituency #3) is the least competitive, while Songinokhairkhan (constituency #11) is the most competitive.

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Guest Post: In Search of New, Clean, and Young Candidates for Politics in Mongolia

By Munkh-Erdene G

For over a month, the reality show “Candidate-2024” was filmed, producing eight episodes to introduce new faces to Mongolia’s political landscape. As one of the 100 participants selected from more than 500 applicants, I was a complete newcomer to both politics and this type of TV show. Coming from an academic background as an anthropologist and not being affiliated with any political party, I found it fascinating to meet a diverse group of candidates, including party members, mid-level and local government officials, social media influencers, and especially young people under thirty.

Stages of the Competition: Knowledge Assessment

The first task of the show was a test based on the civil servant exam of the Mongolian government. It assessed basic knowledge of Mongolian history, culture, general laws, and common sense. Shockingly, 50 participants were eliminated at this stage, while the remaining half were allowed to continue to the next level of the show.

Stage 2: Political Parties

The second task involved establishing a new political party by five teams. It closely resembled the actual process of creating a political party, including developing a vision, agenda, political ideology, and even an action plan for the upcoming election. The judges were 100 voters randomly selected to represent different social groups in society who voted for only one party and one member of the parties. Along with the voters, three experts advised and commented on the five parties’ performances. Most of the parties’ political ideologies were social democratic, with only one party declaring its ideology as right-center. In their action plans for the upcoming election, the parties mainly focus on social welfare, improving justice in society and political life, and reducing corruption and poverty.

As a result, only one party was declared the winner, and ten participants were eliminated based on their performance as team members and in individual activities.

Stage 3: Social Engagement

For the third task, the remaining 40 candidates were divided into four teams to complete social engagement duties within 48 hours. Each team had to select a concerning social issue from a provided list and develop a solution. Three civil society experts judged the task. My team chose to renovate the library at School 59 in Ülziit village, Khan-Uul District, Ulaanbaatar. The winning team’s solution was to install bidet toilet seats in maternity hospitals. The second team chose to install LED-lit crosswalks on two different roads in the east and west of Ulaanbaatar. The team that finished last attempted to renovate a well for clean water in one of the Ger districts and to build a bus station for the local community.

Stage 4: Campaigning

Only 30 candidates remained for the fourth mission, while the ten members from the last two teams in the previous task were eliminated from the show. At this stage, surprisingly, two new candidates joined the three teams formed by the TV show. The mission resembled election campaigns, where teams had to gather students over the weekend and introduce new amendments regarding the number of parliament members and the election system in the constitution. This time, my team won by gathering more students and introducing the new amendments more effectively than the other teams. However, the surprise was that the team with the lowest performance was completely eliminated.

Stage 5: Effective Policy-Making

The fifth task seemed a bit tricky for us. Initially, we were divided into teams, but the task focused more on individual performance in finding effective solutions within a short time frame. We assumed roles as different government officials, such as the chair of the digital transformation initiative, a member of the Mongolian Parliament, or the Minister of Mining, to address sector-related issues. The team discussed the issue together for an hour, but each candidate presented their solution individually in front of the four judges. Based on the candidates’ presentation skills, the judges eliminated four participants from the show.

Stage 6: Videos

The remaining fifteen candidates were teamed up to three and made a 90 second short video on representatives of different social groups for parliament. Within 48 hours, each team was divided two parts: one was a video making group and another to distribute the content on social media. Based on a number of views, share and comments, the winner will be released. The team that initially seemed to have won managed to gather more impressions on social media, but they did not adhere to the rules, leading the judges to deduct points from their score. Consequently, my team emerged as the winner. As a result, three other candidates were eliminated from the show.

Stage 7: Candidates’ Strengths

After several team challenges, the candidates were now able to showcase their personal strengths in the debate task. Despite the rule dividing the twelve candidates into four teams, each participant still had to assume a specific role within their respective team, making it resemble more of an individual task. Following two stages of debate, the professional judges announced the names of the four candidates eliminated, leaving only eight remaining for the show.

Stage 8: Role Playing

The final stage involved portraying the roles of the President and Prime Minister of Mongolia to deliver speeches to the parliament. Candidates underwent two training sessions to prepare and present their speeches. Some of the previously eliminated candidates became the audience this time, while the “eight Presidents and Prime Ministers” delivered their speeches in front of them. Based on the performances in the eight tasks, five finalists were selected and awarded prizes ranging from 20 to 100 million tugrugs. The winner was Lkhagvabayar, a 23-year-old secretary of the Social Democracy Student Union from the Mongolian People’s Party.

Observations

As a newcomer to politics, participating in the TV show was a long, challenging, and fascinating journey for me. Learning about grassroots politics within party institutions and various professional initiatives across different sectors was particularly intriguing. Despite legal limitations that confine election campaigns to two weeks, in reality, campaigning is a perpetual and ongoing process that never rests, becoming part of everyday life. After the show, I received several offers to become a candidate for the upcoming election or to work for political parties. However, none of them seemed appealing to me because of their political ideology and agendas.  Nonetheless, some candidates from the show transitioned into becoming “real candidates” for the election, with some even making it onto party lists. For example, the eighth-place runner, Yumjirmaa, holds the 34th place on the People’s Party list. Hurgul, a Kazakh woman, is a candidate from the Green Party in the Bayan-Olgii district, and Batbayar is running from the New United Coalition. Overall, the show effectively fulfilled its role in enhancing voter education and disseminating knowledge about the new amendments to the constitution.

About G Munkh-Erdene

Gantulga Munkh-Erdene is a PhD candidate in Geography at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. Also he serves as the Executive Secretary of the Mongolian Anthropological Association. Prior to joining Oxford, he held the position of Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, National University of Mongolia.

His research interests encompass the social life of artisanal gold miners, known as ninja miners, as well as nationalism, cultural heritage, globalization, capitalism, development, and mining in Mongolia. Munkh-Erdene has conducted extensive fieldwork in several provinces of Mongolia and China. Based on his participant observation, he has published over 20 book chapters and articles at both the national and international levels.

Posted in Elections, Ikh Khural 2024, Munkherdene Gantulga, Party Politics, Politics | Leave a comment

Notable Candidates

By Julian Dierkes, Marissa J. Smith and Bulgan B

Below are some of the notable individual candidates running in the election. “Notable” in this context means individuals who are known to us to have played a prominent role in politics in the past or who are otherwise notable to us. That includes all current cabinet members, for example, but is not limited to them (even for the MPP). Obviously, this is a pretty loose criterion, but some of these individuals are worth pointing to in terms of party choices to nominate them at all and to nominate them for party lists vs. direct election seats.

MPP

  • D Amarbayasgalan, constituency 2. General Secretary of the MPP and current Cabinet Secretary.
  • S Amarsaikhan, constituency 13. “Mayor” (Governor) of UB.
  • B Bat-Erdene, constituency 4. Minister of Environment and Tourism.
  • J Bat-Erdene, constituency 4. Former Minister of Roads and Transportation.
  • E Batshugar, constituency 11. Son of former president N Enkhbayar.
  • B Battsetseg, constituency 2. Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • D Bum-Ochir, party list place 15. He is an anthropologist who received his PhD from Cambridge. He has been Cultural and Religious Policy Advisor to Pres. Khurelsukh for the past three years.
  • S Byambatsogt, constituency 2. Minister of Roads and Transport.
  • G Damdinnyam, constituency 5. Past Mongolia Focus author.
  • S Chinzorig, constituency 1. Minister of Health.
  • Ts Davaasuren, constituency 4. Minister of Construction and Urban Development.
  • B Dulguun, party list place 25. Deputy Director of Mongolbank.
  • J Ganbaatar, constituency 9. Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry.
  • B Javkhlan, constituency 5. Minister of Finance.
  • Ch Khurelbaatar, constituency 2. Deputy PM and Minister of Economy and
  •  Development.
  • Ch Nomin, constituency 11. Minister of Culture. Daughter of director of Gatsuurt conglomerate.
  • L Oyun-Erdene, constituency 6. Prime Minister
  • R Regdel, party list place 5. former head of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences
  • G Saikhanbayar, constituency 1. Minister of Defense.
  • T Sainjargal, party list place 33. Deputy Director of Erdenes Mongol LLC [Tavan Tolgoi]
  • L Soronzonbold, constituency 6. Director of M Bank
  • D Tsogtbaatar, constituency 10. former Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • B Tsogtgerel, constituency 10, known as Шилэн/Glass Tsogoo for his investigations using glass/transparency account law.
  • N Uchral, constituency 10. Minister of Digital Development and Communications.
  • G Zandanshatar, constituency 1. Speaker of Parliament

DP

  • N Altankhuyag, constituency 11. Former Prime Minister of Mongolia, 2012-2014, and senior advisor to President Battulga, 2017-2019. In 2020-2024 Parliament, independent MP representing Erdenet/Orkhon Aimag (now in constituency 4)
  • R Amarjargal, party list 19. Former Prime Minister, 1999-2000, MP 2004-2016
  • M Amarjin, constituency 11, comedian and prominent protestor
  • O Baasankhuu, constituency 10, former MPRP leader
  • Kh Battulga, constituency 4. Former President of Mongolia, 2017-2021, and Minister of Roads and Transportation, 2008-2012
  • J Batzandan, constituency 4. Democratic Party MP, 2016-2020, founding member of Shine Esvel (political party/movement)
  • S Erdene, constituency 9. former head of Democratic Party, 2016-2023
  • S Ganbaatar, independent presidential candidate, 2017
  • L Gantumur, party list 1. head of Democratic Party
  • Ch Lodoisambuu, constituency 12, journalist (“Ulaan Bal”)
  • L Munkhbayasgalan, constituency 7, journalist (“Tsenzurgui Yaria”)
  • E Odbayar, party list 11. founding member and leader of Demos Party
  • Kh Temuujin, party list 9. Former Minister of Justice
  • M Tulgat, constituency 8, candidate for the head of DP during the 2021

KhUN

  • T Dorjhand, party list 1, Head of the KhUN, MP
  • B Naidalaa, party list 2, co-founder of the KhUN
  • G Javkhlantugs, party list 15. Director of Policy and Advocacy, American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia

Other Parties

  • Ts Oyungerel, constituency 12. Former Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports and DP MP
  • N Nomtoibayar, Former MPP, and founder of the National Coalition (*as of 6/13, Nomtoibayar is not listed as a candidate according to ikon.mn)

So far, we have identified 25 candidates from MPP, 14 from DP, 3 from KhUN, and, two from Other parties. We will continue to reflect the lists as we continue to monitor the candidates.

Sources for this post include:

M. Khulan, [“From the current Parliament, 54 members are being nominated again”], Lemon Press, May 21, 2024, https://lemonpress.mn/post/xuri3V3GARh

Sanders, Alan J. K., Historical Dictionary of Mongolia, Fourth Edition, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017.

Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Ikh Khural 2024, KhUN, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Incumbents

By Julian Dierkes and Marissa J. Smith

Incumbency has been a big factor in past elections in Mongolia regardless of (changes to) the electoral system.

Given the “choice” of nomination for direct election or the party list, what are incumbents doing this time?

In total (as of May 28, see our table of candidates), there are 49 incumbents running for re-election. That is just under two thirds (64%) of previous members.

For the MPP, 36 incumbents are running. All are running for direct election seats, none have been nominated via the party list.

For the DP, 12 incumbents are running. That includes N Altankhuyag who had previously been elected as an independent but is now running for the DP, though he is a candidate in Songinokhairkhan, not in Erdenet (now in constituency #4, including Orkhon, Bulgan and Khuvsgul aimags) where he was elected in 2020. 10 are running for direct election seats, while 2 have been nominated via the party list, S Odontuya (2nd on party list) and J Batsuuri (3rd).

The lone MP for KhUN, T Dorjkhand, heads up the party list.

Observations

Regardless of their election result in 2020, incumbents have thus broadly been chosen to run in direct election races.

Besides N Altankhuyag, only two other incumbents are also changing constituency: P Anujin (moving from Songinokhairkhan district of UB to constituency #6 – Dornod, Khentii, Sukhbaatar), S Ganbaatar (also from Erdenet/Orkhon to #1 – Arkhangai, Uvurkhangai, Bayankhongor). Two of the three moving onto the list from directly-elected seats are doing so from districts of UB (Dorjkhand from Khan-Uul and Odontuya from Bayangol).

Not only are most of the incumbents running in the same geographic areas where they were before, several do or have held the position of local governor – Amarsaikhan for Ulaanbaatar, Batlut for Orkhon, Sandag-Ochir for Baganuur, Enkhtuvshin for Dornogovi, Odontuya for Bayangol district of UB, Naranbaatar for Umnugovi, Batjargal for Tuv, Ganbold for Uvurkhangai. (Batsuuri was also formerly governor of Sukhbaatar aimag, but he is moving onto the party list.)

Take-Aways

The fact that so many incumbents are running not only for election in particular constituencies, and in ones in which they have established local presence, fits with a long-time trend contributing to the MPP’s staying power, at least beyond Ulaanbaatar. (See Marissa’s peer-reviewed journal article on this topic here).

For the Ulaanbaatar vote, however, there may be greater contest. In the wake of the “big three” parties announcing their lists of candidates through the media, a prominent thread of comment that emerged on social media called the composition of the MPP party list a “trap”, or in a more extreme case observed, “make-up.” In this line of reasoning, the MPP list “distracts” with new, non-Party career candidates, while the incumbents occupy directly-elected spots. The presentation of young, well-educated, professional candidates also strongly characterized KhUN’s “Right Person” campaign in the last election, and that former DP MP and minister Ts. Oyungerel’s CUP is carrying out on social media presently.

Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Ikh Khural 2024, KhUN, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Women Candidates 2024 Election

By Julian Dierkes, Bulgan B and Marissa J. Smith

Thanks to Marissa Smith‘s initiative, we’re building a table of candidates running in the June 28 parliamentary election. One of the characteristics we included in the table right away is gender.

Women via Proportional Representation

As we explained in our primer on the election system, 30% of all candidates must be women, and the party lists follow a “zipper system” with alternating male and female candidates. That raises the question whether this decision about the electoral system is likely to increase the number of women MPs in the parliament, as is intended.

Given the 48 seats that will be elected through proportional representation, that in itself will mean around half of the candidates elected via the party list will be women. “Around half” because all three major parties (MPP, DP, KhUN) for whom we’ve collected information so far have a man in their first party list position, so there could be a scenario where not exactly half of the proportional seats are filled by women. Even then, that implies a minimum of 22 women elected via proportional representation which would surpass the current absolute number of 13 in the 2020-24 parliament.

Percentage-wise that would be a bit less clear, of course, since the parliament is expanding from 76 to 126 seats. If no women are elected via direct election (obviously an unlikely scenario), the 24 women that are likely to be elected via the proportional vote would make up would make up 19% of MPs. That would be more than the current 17%, but obviously not a distribution that would reflect the population especially given the high proportion of women in post-secondary education with most of MPs having attended university of some kind. Note also that 19% would not return to the levels seen in socialist parliaments that were in the low 20%, though obviously given the lack of a competitive election for those seats, that is a skewed comparison.

Women via Direct Election

At this point, it’s obviously very hard to predict how many women might be elected via direct seats. As far as we’ve been able to determine (we’ll keep checking, revising and adding to the table over coming weeks) the female incumbents running in this election will be:

  • B Bayarsaikhan (MPP)
  • D Unurbolog (MPP)
  • Ch Undram (MPP)
  • P Anujin (MPP)
  • B Saranchimeg (MPP)
  • G Munkhtsetseg (MPP)
  • S Odontuya (DP)
  • A Adiyasuren (DP)

Given that incumbency has been a big advantage in past elections, it would seem like a fair assumption that a number equal to the female incumbents would be elected again, though that is very speculative.

If the number of women who succeed in direct elections were roughly the same as the number of incumbents running that would mean 8 additional female MPs.

With the 24 female MPs likely to be elected via the party lists, that would lead to 32 or so women which would be just over a quarter of the new 2024-2028 Parliament.

There are a number of prominent women running for direct election who are not incumbents, of course (for example, Foreign Minister B Battsetseg and Minister of Culture and Tourism Ch. Nomin), so if the incumbents are successful in their re-election bids and additional women are elected, that proportion could rise further.

We are also watching for Ts. Oyungerel and her new third party, the Civic Unity Party (CUP), to announce their party lists and candidates for directly-elected seats. While they have been active on social media and have released materials such as this video on Facebook and X, the CUP have not released a list as the “big three” parties have at this time. (Update: The CUP list is available here. Ts. Oyungerel has registered, and the list is predominantly female, including 35 women and 24 men.)

One of the interesting questions that will arise for the next parliament will be the perception of (the relative power of) directly elected MPs vs their colleagues who will have been elected via party lists. Julian previously speculated about this and gender may also play into that perception.

As a final caveat, we also note again that these candidate lists are lists of the names of those individuals whom parties are submitting for registration. All candidates still must be cleared by the General Election Committee and candidates will not receive their official candidate card and official go-ahead to start campaigning until next month.

Women Parliamentarians, Mathematical Representation and Outlook

The above parameters lead us to consider the following likely results in terms of women’s representation among MPs. Let’s use simple math to predict the number of women in the parliament for the 2024-2028 term. The proportional seats of 48 secure 17-19% of female parliamentarians, depending on whether we get 22 or 24 women. Only 14 (out of 78) candidates are women in the MPP and DP candidates in the 13 constituencies. The KhUN party has the highest number of women nominated in direct representation, at 34.  In the proportional system, the KhUN Party has nominated 24 out of 48 seats for women, while the MPP and DP have nominated 23 women each.  With these numbers added, MPP and DP just met the 30% quota with 38 women candidates according to the amendment (see all the changes to the election legislation here). KhUN party has the highest number of women at 57, or 45% of women.

If we focus on possibilities rather than probabilities, we can propose three distinct scenarios for the representation of women in parliament. These would give us about 25-30% of women’s representation in the parliament, the possibility of almost double the existing number or a slight increase.

Type of Representation Number of Seats Scenario: Stagnant Parity Scenario: Modest Progress Scenario: Modest Setback
Proportional 48 22-24
(Based on zipper system, max # of women is 24, min is 22)
24
(maximum number of women)
22
(minimum number of women)
Direct 78 11-13
(Based on previous two elections of 15-17% of elected MPs are women)
14
(19%, increment of 2% based on last two elections)
10
(13%, decrement of 2% from maintained)
Total 126 33-37
(This represents 26-29% of  elected MPs are women)
38
(30% of the parliament)
32
(25% of the parliament)

Given the number of women nominated by both parties from direct representation, it will be difficult to have up to 11-13 women, meaning at least one woman from each constituency. However, if we look at the superficial calculation, we see that many factors play into the election.  Anyway, we will continue to analyze the situation further.

* Edit, 5/30/24: Female incumbents also include Kh. Bulgantuya (MPP)

Posted in Democracy, Democratic Party, Elections, Gender, Ikh Khural 2024, KhUN, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics, Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Balance of Power in Expanded Parliament

By Julian Dierkes

The 2019 constitutional amendments were partly aimed at shifting the balance of power toward parliament and cabinet, away from the presidency. For example, the prohibition on the double deel was intended to strengthen the prime minister by offering them a bit more independence from parliament. Conversely, powers to create parliamentary committees were meant to strengthen parliament’s ability.

For some of these amendments, we won’t know whether they might have had the desired effect as they have been overturned already last year, i.e. the double deel prohibition. An MPP prime minister coexisting with an MPP president – despite the regular discussions of divisions and rivalry between them – during an MPP supermajority is probably also not the time to really put the desired shift of power to a test. That is not because the MPP can railroad any changes through, but because of the ongoing fragmentation of power and some of the surprising challenges in governing with a supermajority.

What will parliamentary vs cabinet power look like in the next UIX?

The expansion in the number of seats seems likely to shift the balance of power in parliament. The split between 78 majoritarian districts and 48 proportional representation seats suggests that the status of these “different” MPs might differ and their role in potential cabinets and in legislative activities with that.

Abstract arguments about the relative power of directly-elected and party-list MPs are easy to construct. On the one hand, directly elected MPs have a constituency that serves as the basis of their power and they can potentially turn to that constituency in justifying decisions that might even counter party positions. While they are beholden to the party (leadership), on the other hand, MPs elected by a national list might point to their relative national prominence and the importance of political parties in justifying their decisions.

Early discussions ahead of the next election suggestion that the former rationale might play a more significant role. But the nomination of candidates in coming weeks will also offer some indication. I have previously speculated about some of the decisions in nominations. If many prominent incumbents are nominated in their (expanded) electoral districts, we might conclude that they see more of a logic that points to the power rooted in a direct electorate, but if any incumbents or prominent new candidates choose the party lists, that might suggest that national prominence and a national constituency might also serve as a perceived power basis. That logic would primarily hold for the MPP, of course, perhaps also for the DP which is likely to nominate a full slate of 126 candidates as well, though conclusions regarding the DP would be less drawn from incumbency, more prominence, given the small number of incumbents.

By contrast, one might suspect that prominent KhUN candidates might prefer to be nominated for high spots on the part list where their chance to be elected via proportional representation might be significantly higher. They might therefore see their opposition mandate as being more of a national mandate, rather than being rooted in a specific constituency.

It does not seem like there is any more inherent power in directly elected seats compared to those elected from a party lists. In practice, newly introduced proportional representation seats might seem to be diminished by comparison, but decisions by incumbents and parties in this and future elections could easily shift that perception.

Posted in Democracy, Democratic Party, Governance, Ikh Khural 2024, JD Democratization, KhUN, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics, Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Guest Post: Will the parties consider what the electorate wants to see on the ballots? There is a TV show for that. 

By E Lkhagva

As far as I can remember I don’t think there has been election coverage in Mongolian democratic history where the public felt there has been enough debates between candidates, real  interviews or fair coverage in general.

When you think about how local media cover general elections one can point to the lack of debates, badly organized interviews or over-produced glossy candidate profiles which leave the electorate disengaged wondering how misrepresented they are in the Ikh Khural. Add social media trolls and known influencers and artists openly endorsing the Prime Minister an act netizens of Mongolia are calling “Хиамчин, Хиамрах” ham or to act of hamming this year’s election would be tough for the average voter to make sense or to make an informed decision. The role of the media in elections has been an aspect that has been identified repeatedly by OSCE Election Observation Missions.

This is especially true for younger voters. There have been efforts to engage them to come out in the past namely the Ugloo campaign. A large poll of 11,000 respondents by MMCG this spring shows Mongolians would like to see someone “new, young and clean”. This is true for previous polls done by Sant Maral Polit barometers and IRI youth perception survey. But are the parties listening? Will they send fresh new faces to the 13 electoral districts this year or will they prefer more established candidates whom the constituencies’ awareness level is higher. Many are claiming that the party list would be a welcome addition to include younger and female politicians to access the legislative arena. However, the party list has yet to be finalized as the parties scramble to align their platforms to get the seal of approval from the National Audit Office. And, even if female, younger and/or new candidates are nominated by the MPP and DP, if they are nominated for lower spots on the party list or in more competitive electoral districts, their chances may be very unclear. KHUN’s ability to have representatives elected via a party list and proportional representation also remains untested.

Rules of the game. No country for new candidates.

This year the rules of the game have changed. Again. Districts are larger. The campaign period is shorter. Parties will need to present a 48 person list for the proportional vote and 78 candidates to be nominated in the electoral districts. The local elections in October remain the same districts as 2020.

New Coverage

Returning back to journalism after 5 years in the ripe election season, my editorial and production team at MongolTV decided to put together a political reality show to demonstrate how the political process unfolds and to introduce new, young and clean candidates to the public and ultimately to provide a national platform for them to share their stories. We are offering half a billion tugriks for the winner to devote to their cause.  This is not an original idea. In 2015 UBS television has produced a  “Улс төрд шинэ манлайлагч” which introduced many DP, MPP and even business and civil society leaders at the time. The 8 episodes of political reality format will be profiling 100 out of 520 applications we received from a diverse backgrounds all around Mongolia  and the hopeful future candidates will need to complete 8 tasks for their chance to be recognized nationally and to earn 500 million tugriks.

The production team has put in efforts to balance the representation in terms of gender, social minority groups and political parties and walking a tight rope to stay within the legislative red lines on not showing party affiliation of candidates to be within the guidelines of the new election law.

Whether we succeed in producing a show which elevates voter education, demonstrate that young, new politicians are in fact capable of making tough decisions, and offer solutions to national and local issues will be for you to judge from April 26th Saturday evening. We hope the show achieve its goal to nudge parties to consider more representative candidates to their lists and drive political discourse on the subjects that matter for this election cycle.

About E Lkhagva

Lkhagva is a journalist, Editor-in-Chief of MongolTV based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. He holds a Master of Journalism degree from Journalism and Media Study Centre of the University of Hong-Kong and currently serves as a Board Member for Independent Fund for Media Self-Regulation.

Posted in Democratic Party, Ikh Khural 2024, KhUN, Lkhagva Erdene, Media and Press, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics, Politics, Younger Mongolians | Leave a comment

Parliamentary Elections 2024: Note on Third Parties, #1

by Marissa J. Smith

While we wait for the State Audit Office to review and approve party platforms (I will be looking for them to appear on the General Election Commission’s website around April 26), I have prepared some observations about third party participation/applications to participate so far.

Interestingly, of the parties that went through the process to participate in the 2020 elections, all but four (Mongolian Green Party, Mongolian Traditionally United Party, Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, Love the People Party) have submitted platforms to the Audit Office. The Mongolian Traditionally United Party is listed as a member of the United New Coalition, which is one of two coalitions that submitted platforms this year. This party and the Green Party were still listed as official political parties on the Supreme Court website in February.

There are also six parties that submitted platforms for this year’s election that did not participate in the 2020 elections.

The table below shows parties with platforms currently under review by the State Audit Office and parties that participated in the previous (2020) Parliamentary Elections (see Mongolia Focus post here). Links to live and active Facebook pages are included (though comment on social media and elections more broadly is beyond the scope of the current post). Only four parties appear to have live websites with recent (2024) activity: the Mongolian People’s Party, “Shine” New Unified Coalition, United Party of Civil Participation, and the Freedom Alliance (FKA Demos). (The Democratic Party does not have an active website that I have been able to locate and the website listed in their official registration is not accessible).

(English Translation) Parties/Coalitions That Submitted Platforms to State Audit Office (2024) Parties Cleared by Audit Office to Participate in Elections (2020)
Civil Movement Party Иргэний хөдөлгөөний нам
Civil Will-Green Party Иргэний зориг ногоон нам
Иргэний зориг ногоон нам
Democracy Renewal Party Ардчилал шинэчлэлийн нам
Ардчилал шинэчлэлийн нам
Democratic Party Ардчилсан нам Ардчилсан нам
Development Program Party Хөгжлийн хөтөлбөр нам
Хөгжлийн хөтөлбөр нам
Freedom Alliance Party Эрх чөлөөний эвсэл нам/Зон олны нам
Эрх чөлөөний эвсэл нам /Зон олны нам/ [aka Demos – Mongolia Focus post here]
Freedom Implementation Party Эрх чөлөөг хэрэгжүүлэгч нам
Эрх чөлөөг хэрэгжүүлэгч нам
Ger District Development Party Гэр хороолол хөгжлийн нам
Гэр хороолол хөгжлийн нам (see Mongolia Focus post)
Great Unity Party Их Эв нам Их Эв нам
Republican Party Бүгд найрамдах нам
Бүгд найрамдах нам
Justice Party Зүй ёс нам Зүй ёс нам (see Mongolia Focus post)
KhUN Party ХҮН нам ХҮН нам (see Mongolia Focus post)
Masses’ Majority Governance Party Ард түмний Олонхийн Засаглал нам
Ард түмний Олонхийн Засаглал нам /АТОЗ/ (Mongolia Focus post here)
Mongolian Conservative Party Монгол Консерватив нам
Монгол Консерватив нам
Mongolian Liberal Democratic Party Монголын либериал ардчилсан нам
Mongolian Liberal Party Монголын либериал нам
Mongolian People’s Party Монгол Ардын нам
Монгол Ардын нам
Mongolian Renewal Party Монгол Шинэчлэлт нам
Motherland Party Эх орон нам Эх орон нам
National Coalition Үндэсний эвсэл Үндэсний эвсэл
New Unified Coalition (New Party and Mongolian Traditionally United Party Coalition) Шинэ нэгдсэн эвсэл/Шинэ нам, Монголын Уламжлалын нэгдсэн нам эвсэл
Шинэ нэгдсэн эвсэл /Шинэ нам, Монголын Уламжлалын нэгдсэн нам эвсэл/
Party for Mongolian Humanity Монголын хүний төлөө нам
Монголын хүний төлөө нам
Power of the Masses Party Ард түмний хүч нам
Ард түмний хүч нам
Social Democratic Party Социал демократ нам
Социал демократ нам
Truth and Justice Party Үнэн ба зөв нам
Үнэн ба зөв нам
Civic Unity Party Иргэдийн оролцооны нэгдэл нам
United Party of Good Democrats Сайн ардчилсан иргэдийн нэгдсэн нам
United Patriot’s Party Эх орончдын нэгдсэн нам
Эх орончдын нэгдсэн нам
World Mongolian’s Party Дэлхийн монголчууд нам
Дэлхийн монголчууд нам

Here is a list of parties registered with the Supreme Court of Mongolia that are not listed among the parties having submitted platforms to the Audit Office:

Монголын Ногоон нам
Монголын Уламжлалын Нэгдсэн нам
Монголын эмэгтэйчүүдийн үндэсний нэгдсэн нам
Ардтүмний нам
Монголын Ардчилсан Хөдөлгөөний Нам
Хамуг Монголын Хөдөлмөрийн нам
Тусгаар тогтнол, эв нэгдлийн нам
Миний Монгол нам

Posted in Civil Society, Civil Will Green Party, Democratic Party, Elections, Ikh Khural 2024, KhUN, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics, Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Expectations of Coming Election

By Julian Dierkes

With Marissa Smith and D Enkhtsetseg, I have set the stage for the coming parliamentary election in terms of the changes to the electoral system. I have previously offered some thoughts of what these changes might imply for electoral strategies for parties. But what about elections as a contest of ideas, as the opportunity for Mongolians to contribute to decisions about the future development of their country?

What to campaign for when elections are not a contest of ideas?

To me, Mongolian democracy is primarily defined by the freedoms it affords citizens, less by the opportunity to define future directions and contribute to collective decision-making about that future. The dominant political parties are generally not defined by ideological positions, but instead offer a broadly pragmatic approach to political decisions that maintains the fiction that there are single best solutions for given policy challenges. I do not find the MPP to be particularly social democratic, nor the DP particularly business-friendly, and KhUN has also not built a clearly defined policy agenda.

Of course, the parties have submitted their platforms to the audit agency for approval. Mongolia is somewhat unusual in this regard in that the audit agency submits election platforms to a feasibility tests that is intended to prevent outlandish claims and promises. Parties are then restricted to items that had appeared on their election platforms and were approved in their campaign activities.

So, yes, parties will campaign on election platforms that will allow voters to have a sense of some of the substantive directions that future governments might take. But, these directions are unlikely to amount to any kind of coherent policy theme (eg market liberalization, support for rural regions, climate emergency mitigation, etc.). Broadly speaking, I therefore do not anticipate substantive debates and controversy during the campaign, nor a significant shift in overall policy as an outcome of these elections.

Elections under a Super Majority

The lack of ideological or substantive focus is exacerbated by the two-term supermajority that the MPP has held. Contrary to my expectations, it looks like PM Oyun-Erdene will not only serve out a term, but will also be able to enter the election to campaign on his record of governing. Given the past turnover in prime minister (albeit largely without any real change of political direction), this is unusual. It also means, that Oyun-Erdene and, by extension, the MPP will not have a strong claim as to new directions that they would pursue. Instead, their campaign will largely focus on the relative stability that their government has brought. That includes governance during COVID19, though perhaps that is fading in voters’ memories. Perhaps most prominent in the campaign will be the relatively good economic situation that Mongolian seems to find itself in at the moment. Yes, anecdotal evidence suggests that many younger, professional Mongolians may be frustrated by the perceived lack of opportunities for them, and there is significant unemployment among the urban poor, but the beginning of underground production at Oyu Tolgoi coupled with the unfortunate (in environmental terms) boom in coal production and export, places Mongolia on a seemingly solid economic footing, at least in the medium term.

While many Ulaanbaatarites continue to suffer under severe air pollution during the winter months, that issue somehow seems less virulent than it has in the past. The desulphurized coal along with the promotion of electric sources of heat as well as some resignation, may have led to this issue being less prominent than it had been in some previous years. Of course, June blue skys also contribute to air pollution perhaps never quite being top-of-mind during elections.

Opposition Topics

It is unclear to me that the DP is really engaged in any kind of renewal of its dominant voices or policies. If the old guard and the “golden swallows” of the revolution continue to dominate, or worse, in policy terms, former president Battulga asserts some authority over the party, I have no expectations that substantive initiatives are likely to come from the DP. In all likelihood, the campaign will be built around, “the MPP is bad, we are the good guys [sic!], vote for us” and the hope that past patterns of voters alternating between the two big parties return. If the DP nominates a full slate of 126 candidates as might be expected, this surely will include a number of younger and fresher voices, but they will be bound by a party establishment that will restrict any real substantive advances.

Beyond the generic, “the MPP is bad” narrative, KhUN seems likely to focus on their previous themes of their substantive, technocratic preparation for office and the need for a personnel change in government. Neither of these necessarily make for a strong substantive focus.

Corruption may be a topic that KhUN might push hard. It is clearly linkable to an overall “out with the old, in with the new” appeal, and the “coal theft” case has left the MPP and the government vulnerable to accusations even when there has been a blitz of anti-corruption measures over the past year. The recent revival of the legal case against former prime minister Su Batbold in the U.S. attracted some international attention, but will be hardly new or surprising to Mongolians, so seems somewhat unlikely to play a significant role. Yet, a focus on corruption seems unlikely to go beyond claims of “we’re better than them” to extend to actual substantive changes around transparency of contracts or general transparency at state-owned companies.

Linked to a corruption narrative might be an opposition focus on specific policy failures of recent times. That would include examples like the long drawn-out construction of the Darkhan road or the flooding in Ulaanbaatar last summer that seemed to point so clearly at corrupt practices in building permitting. Given the large number of seats available in the Ulaanbaatar ridings, these seem like they will be active topics, esp. in case June rains bring any additional instances of flooding. However, they are also somewhat unlikely to be linked to a larger policy agenda, say around urban public transport or protection of green spaces.

Unlikely Topics

As is true in many elections, it seems unlikely that foreign policy will play a significant role. While Mongolia’s position remains somewhat precarious caught between aggressive neighbours and the fear of a hardening of global blocks, there are no real divisions between the parties on foreign policy. Sure, some older MPP politicians might easily be portrayed by the opposition as Russophile, but they also stand for a perspective that may well be shared by a significant part of the electorate. In any case, it seems like there is very little wriggle room for Mongolian foreign policy that would energize voters.

Environmental issues seem increasingly visible to Mongolians, whether that is urban air pollution or the deterioration of grass lands or frequency of natural disasters, but these remain discussed primarily as particularistic issues, not as the basis for a broader ecological agenda.

For once, it would also seem that other than claims of corruption, Oyu Tolgoi and the agreements between the government and Rio Tinto may not be much of an issue in this election.

 

Posted in Corruption, Democratic Party, Elections, Foreign Policy, Governance, Ikh Khural 2024, JD Democratization, KhUN, Mining Governance, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics, Policy, Politics, Public Policy, Social Issues, Ulaanbaatar | Tagged | Leave a comment

Self-Guided Travel to Mongolia

By Julian Dierkes

Despite my many visits to Mongolia, I usually do not come for vacation. But, in late July 2023 I spent a week with my brother touring the countryside. Perhaps some of these observations will inform others planning future travel…

 

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Our trip gave us some experience and insights into the tourism industry from the particular perspective of a knowledgeable-about-Mongolia tourist travelling without a tour. With this being the officially proclaimed years of tourism to Mongolia, perhaps these observations will be of interest as an update to a post I wrote about the experience of traveling around Mongolia on a tour.

One of the great surprises was that ger camps were nearly empty in the last week of July. In the process of trying to make reservations (see below) I had had the impression that some of the camps were nearly booked, but that turned out not to be the case. We learned that the busiest time for the camps had been the week after Naadam, as many Mongolians travelled that week. As much as we really enjoyed the lack of crowds, it does make you wonder about the continued viability of this kind of travel when seasons are short and camps are investing into infrastructure.

Driving

I have been driven around the countryside for over 10,000km, I would guess, but I had never driven myself. This was my chance! But, it turned out to be a more ambitious plan than I had anticipated. Rental cars without a driver are very difficult to find. In the end, I had to rely on the advice of some experience travel professionals, and managed to rent a car from Drive Mongolia that served us really well.

We relied on cell phone-based navigation and that worked just fine.

Roads are much better now than they had been ten years ago or so, but there are still many spots that are only reached by gravel roads which vary between washboards (<30km/h) to highways (<80km/h). I’ve noted some of the complex communication patterns that one adopts in a post about recent changes in the countryside.

Ger Camps

We stayed in three ger camps. I would classify all of these as “destination camps” in that they were not along the way of major routes, but instead would be locations that travellers would aim at specifically.

 

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Harganat River Lodge

Harganat River Lodge is located near Murun. It sits high on a river bank with a 270º view over the entire valley stretching out to the West from Murun. One of its distinguishing features is a dome structure that houses a large open room (used for yoga class, for example), but also shower and toilet facilities as well as a sauna. Obviously, we couldn’t say no to a sauna!

Av Darhar Eco Lodge

Av Darhar Eco Lodge is on the eastern side of Lake Khuvsgul. It was the only occasion that I’ve ever had travelled to a location that could only be reached by boat in Mongolia! This is a great spot inside a national park. At other times of the year, there is an abundance of wildlife of whom we only saw the droppings.

Tultiin Tokhoi Camp

Tultiin Tokhoi Camp is also located near Murun, on the same river as the Harganat Lodge. It includes gers as well as really nicely-constructed small blockhouses.

Reservations/Communications

This is a weak spot if you’re making your own arrangements. The camps seem to largely be catering to Mongolians and international tourists on organized tours, i.e. relying on the good services of travel companies.

Since most camps are out of cell/data range they struggle in replying to contact attempts and some of the other camps we considered did not have much of an online presence either.

Of course, this is also terrific as we did not have WiFi in any of the camps and only had cell data connections by climbing a hill in all. Peaceful.

Food

To me, one of the great attractions to summer-time ger camp travel is fresh yoghurt and we got that. The orum (өрөм) at Av Darhar was fantastic, especially as it came with freshly-made rhubarb jam. But camps also seem to continue to offer a toned-down version of Mongolian food or somewhat generic meals that don’t include Mongolian aspects.

My foodie brother was very curious that none of the Mongolian dishes (he happily took to mutton soup) include any local herbs, as the steppe seems to offer abundant plants, and some of those are likely to be tasty. The curious answer we got from a Mongolian guide staying at the same camp: “We don’t have to season our meat because the animals already eat all the herbs!”

Experiences

I was really pleased to find that the ger camps we stayed in offered experiences. This had not been the case when I had taken notes about previous tours. In this case, the activities included a map for local hikes, including archaeological sites, and rafting. With these kind of activities, ger camps might become more of a multi-day destination, rather than just a stopover. Other facilities such as saunas added to the sense that it would be really nice to spend some days at a camp, explore the local surroundings, and relax.

Gers

All of the camps offered electricity. Some of them were hooked up to the grid, elsewhere this was provided via car batteries fed by solar collectors. Some camps also offered WiFi, though, who wants it, when you’re traveling in the Mongolian countryside.

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Parliamentary Elections 2024: Yet Another New Election System

By Marissa J. Smith, Julian Dierkes, and Enkhtsetseg Dagva

As many observers have noted, Mongolian election systems have changed from election to election for the past 20 years. In this post, we detail the form of the June 2024 Parliamentary elections as currently discernable from measures by the Parliament and compare these to prior elections and associated structures of Parliament.

For this year’s election expected in late June, eligible voters will have two votes to elect a total of 126 members of the Ikh Khural: a vote in one of 13 electoral districts to directly elect 78 MPs (distributed unevenly across constituencies, see below), and a party vote to elect 48 MPs from party lists. The shift is thus an expansion of the total number of MPs as well as a return to a mixed majoritarian-proportional election system.

At the end of 2023, the Parliament also established a new structure of constituencies, a radical departure from previous systems, in which aimags have been combined into large territories (except for Bayan-Ulgii) with different numbers of mandates. This was not established in the constitution, but rather in a Parliamentary resolution, and appears to be designed to shift with each election to account for demographic changes across Mongolia and government regional development goals.

Legal Measure Date Description
Constitutional Amendment (21.1) May 31, 2023 Define the structure of Parliament as a single-chamber body with 126 members
Constitutional Amendment (21.1) May 31, 2023 Define elections for Parliament as mixed majoritarian-proportional, with 78 proportionally-elected members and 48 majoritarian-elected members
Parliamentary Resolution No. 112 December 21, 2023 Define the number and makeup (combination of aimags) of constituencies (тойрог)
Attachment to Parliamentary Resolution No. 112 No date Define the number of mandates (мандат per constituency тойрог)

Map of constituencies with number of mandates

Map of constituencies with number of mandates, General Election Commission, “Election Education,” No. 1, 2024, pg. 5.

Expansion to 126 seats and Return to Mixed Majoritarian-Proportional

An expansion of the number of seats in parliament has been under discussion for many years. On this blog, Julian wrote about some of the debates surrounding the double deel and the size of Parliament as early as 2015. Arguments for an expanded parliament have included the committee (over)load on 76 individual MPs and the number of MPs relative to the size of cabinet.

A decision for expansion was finally made in summer 2023. While different proposals for the precise extent of expansion had been floated for years, there does not appear to be a specific rationale for the number of 126, nor for the 48:78 split between proportional:majoritarian seats. In the end 126 appears to be a pragmatic compromise between the current number of 76 members and a doubling to 152 members.

This decision for expansion was coupled with an elevation of the electoral system as mixed majoritarian-proportional into the constitution. The determination of the number and form of constituencies and seats/mandates per constituencies, i.e. how to distribute the 78 directly-elected seats now mandated in the constitution, specifically for the 2024 election, was established in December 2023 in a parliamentary resolution and attachment to the resolution. According to state broadcaster MNB this structure was based on a count of voting-age citizens by administrative unit current as of November 30, 2023 provided by the General Authority of State Registration.

It remains interesting to observe that a party that has won landslides in the last two elections, the MPP, and has a strong power base in rural election districts that carry more weight per vote than urban districts, has perhaps chosen to open the possibility that a well-established but self-destructing main opposition party, the DP, and a still-upstart KhUN party gain more seats in Parliament.

To capitalize on this opportunity, the DP and KhUN would have to demonstrate abilities to campaign in the countryside that they have not had to in prior years. While in the new constituency structure, six constituencies are urban and seven are provincial, mandates will not be allocated evenly across these constituencies – almost 70% of the mandates will be outside of Ulaanbaatar (and “Ulaanbaatar” also includes outlying mining communities Nalaikh, Bagakhangai and Baganuur). Outside of a few select aimags – which have since also been commanded by the MPP – the MPP has always had significantly more presence in the countryside and been able to conduct more impactful campaign activities there; MPs such as Speaker Zandanshatar have already been visiting constituencies (not as official campaign events, of course, which are allowed only during the fourteen days prior to the election). Additionally, while the DP has recently appointed younger “Gen X and Y” members to leadership positions, the MPP is the only party that boasts a robust youth organization presenting candidates that win seats and produces young appointees to administer an expanding government apparatus. It is also notable that the Parliamentary Election Law now allows five times as many party and coalition employees to work nationwide and at the aimag/capital area level as it did previously (37.2).

Proportional Representation

48 seats in the new Parliament will be filled from countrywide party lists. To qualify for these seats, parties and coalitions must have candidates running in 50 percent or more of the total mandates per constituency (74.2.1). Single parties must obtain at least 4 percent of the vote, two-party coalitions at least 5 percent of the vote, and coalitions with three or more parties, at least 7 percent (74.2-74.4).

Majoritarian Districts

The Parliamentary resolution distributing the aimags and capital area among thirteen constituencies states that formula of thirteen constituencies with unequal distributions of mandates was done in line with plans for regional development (Para. 2). As this resolution only covers the 2024 election, and as the Mongolian state broadcaster also reported that data on the distribution of voters by administrative units also was taken into account, one presumes that the current idea is that the number of constituencies is intended to change with each election.

Votes in each of the constituencies will be tallied per candidate and mandates distributed to candidates with the most votes. Additional rounds of voting will be organized within a week in case of 1. ties or 2. a voter participation rate below fifty percent in the constituency (78).
Independent candidates are treated no differently from party/coalition candidates in terms of how their votes count for the majoritarian mandates/seats.

Women Candidates

As in past elections, new legislation for the 2024 elections includes measures towards increasing the number of female candidates. The “zipper system,” i.e. alternating female-male candidates on lists has been instituted (30.6 of the Parliamentary Elections Law). Additionally, 30% of candidates for a party must be women (or men) (30.2), and the law also stipulates that in 2028 this will increase to 40%.

Voter Education

General Election Commission has been successful in past elections to explain voters about changes in electoral systems. We expect that this effort will be resourced and receive a fair bit of attention again for this election. At this time the GEC website section addressed to voters (the “сонгогч танаа” tab here) contains only information about voter registration and residency. The GEC also released a new 60-page issue of “Election Education” announced on Facebook (link to post here) on March 1.

Election Timeline

The election has been scheduled for June 28th. The campaign season will be slightly shorter this year than it was in 2022, as the amount of time before the election that the General Election Committee will grant candidates their cards has been shortened from 22 days before the election to 22 days before the election.

The table below is a schedule of key election-related dates, based on the Law on Parliamentary Elections. The General Election Committee also has a more detailed schedule available here.

Expected Timing Timing As Defined In Legal Measure Description
March 1 March 1 Deadline for audit organization to set campaign finance limits (50.1)
End of March March 25 Deadline for parties to submit election platform (сонгуулийн мөрийн хөтөлбөр) (38.6)
Beginning of April First week of April Deadline for parties/coalitions/candidates to submit donation reports to state auditor (38.7)
End of April 60 days before election Deadline for parties to submit intention to participate (26.1)
Mid-May 45 to 38 days before election Parties nominate candidates (and self-nominees nominate selves) (29.1)
Mid-June 18 days before election (previously 22 days) GEC issues candidate card (and official status as candidate) (32.12)
Late-June From issuance of card to 24 hours before election day (previously this would have been slightly longer) Campaign period (39.1)
June 28 Election Day Election Day
Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Enkhtsetseg Dagva, Ikh Khural 2024, KhUN, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Chingeltei Khairkhan – The Closest Getaway from the UB Bubble

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan

Hiking is becoming a favorite activity especially for those who live in the UB bubble. During weekends and holidays, you would find more people in public parks near the city and see many families driving to their summer places, resort areas (Terelj, Ski Resorts), or to the countryside. A few years back, during the pandemic, my friend drove me to the closest mountain range within a 30-minute drive from the center of the UB bubble.

This is called a Chingeltei Khairkhan Park – which is in the Chingeltei District and at the southeastern edge of the Chingeltei Khairkhan mountain – one of the four mountains surrounding the capital city. It is on the north side of the city and a part of the Khentii Mountain Range – a long range runs through the northeastern Mongolia.

How to Get There?

It is about 12 kms from the downtown. You can simply drive or take a bus (Number 23 or 24). Or, if you are serious hiker and know the locals, you can hike up to the mountain  from several different routes. But you need to walk over 6-10 kms. For me, the bus is the most convenient one. From this state-of-art bus stop, you need to walk about 1.7 kms to reach the main entrance of the park.

A brand new bus stop at the Chingeltei Zurkh Uul.

Entrance

What could you do?

It is slowly becoming a well-established public park. If you are a hiker, you can hike to several different points. One is going to southeast get a view of the UB city. This hike is a bit rough and slippery in the winter or after the rain. But, in summer, you will enjoy the wild strawberries. The other route is going up to the 13 ovoos (shamanistic ritual place) and antennas.

This hike has two parts: the first part is easy, gradual slope up to the Wild Boar board and the other part requires you to climb over the boulders. If you are curious, you can walk down to the sacred place for wild boar worship. The wild board is believed to be the guardian of this mountain. At the end of this hikes, you would have breathtaking views of the mountain range and glimpse of the city and ger districts. If you are not serious hiker, you just enjoy in the playground, fitness and picnic areas all year around. The highest attitude of the mountain is around 1950 meters.

Walkway

Picnic Tables Everywhere

Fitness Area

Fitness Area

Thirteen Ovoos

Scenic Views

Some Thoughts

The Chingeltei Khairkhan park is a good example of how the government (national and local) and public working together to preserve the nature, especially near the Ulaanbaatar city, after a messy period of the land rush in 1990s.

Before 1990, just like some other outskirts of the city, there were summer houses of several organizations. During the socialist period, each organization had similar summer cottages (3×4 or 3×5 meters) for their employees. From June till September, a transportation was provided since these summer cottages were located away from the public transportation to the outskirts. In the winter, a herdsman family guard these cottages. Chingeltei had several these summer cottages, and you would spot the old sign for the summer cottages and a few torn-down cottages.

As the nation experienced the economic hardships, these cottages were abandoned. People wandered around to vandalize and loot these summer cottages, cut woods for fuel or money, and damage the nature as they went crazy collecting pine nuts and berries. At the same time, many people fenced large areas and built big houses without any official permits. These fences make for public to hike or go sightseeing in these mountains. Also, going to the mountains in the 1990s was not really safe because the widespread alcoholism and increased crime rates – especially related to alcohol usage.

Today – the park has well-marked pathways and CCTV monitoring. Nicely, all these lights and cameras are powered by solar panels. Coming to this area many times, it is truly nice to see families, friends, and hikers enjoying the nature – in the peace (without heavy drinkers and noisy brawls). The only challenge for all seems to be the waste management.

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