End of “Non-Standard” Government

By Mendee J

The Democratic Party (DP) left the Coalition Government, now the Mongolian People’s Party will remain in power until the parliamentary elections in June.  The DP’s decision is connected to its preparation for the election, but it indicates power struggle within the DP, decay of the government bureaucracy, and new patterns of Mongolian politics.

The National Governing Committee of the Democratic Party officially declared the end of the Coalition Government with the Mongolian People’s Party yesterday, January 11, 2012.  This decision was expected by many, but the coalition had survived until MP Kh. Battulga’s candid interview, which revealed the true internal dynamics of the coalition government.

At the National Governing Committee meeting, while DP Chairman Altankhuyag, who served as the #2 in the coalition government and other DP cabinet ministers boasted the 82 percent of the Coalition Government Action Plan, MP Kh. Battulga again criticized the false statements by the DP Chairman and other ministers.  Battulga served as the Cabinet Minister for Road, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development and wholeheartedly pushed the industrialization plan by capitalizing on mineral exploitation. Although Battulga’s frustration with the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the Coalition Government and criticism of the DP Chairman could be explained as political tactics toward upcoming election or a move for the DP Chairman post, he seems to be pointing out the institutional deficiencies of today’s Mongolian  bureaucracy.

Even though the DP Chairman Altankhuyag stated in his speech that the DP fulfilled its historic tasks for the nation while collaborating with the MPP, one could  hardly see any decision beyond the Oyu Tolgoi mining deal with Ivanhoe and Rio Tinto.  The government again passed the most inefficient budget, which allotted several million tugrugs for MPs to spend on their electoral districts and failed to finalize the Tavan Tolgoi mining deal.  The government had not done much on many other plans of the Coalition Government.  Just a month ago, the DP Chairman was declaring his firm stance on the Coalition Government until the election, but within one week, he gave up. This demonstrates how internal power rivalries in the DP have intensified as the election nears.

The disintegration of the DP and MPP, two major political forces, potentially provides opportunities for other political parties to compete in the upcoming election.  Apparently, the DP will not oppose the continuation of the MPP government – even promised to pass their nominees replacing the DP cabinet members quickly. The MPP will now certainly use its advantage of running the government until the parliamentary election in June, 2012.  All failed programs of the Coalition Government will be subject to a political ‘blame game’ between the two parties.  Although the revised election law could be certainly considered the best, its effectiveness will depend on the enforcement.

Although the parties are not making ‘cash transfer’ promises under the revised Election law, now they are promoting “Mongolian Person – 2020” by DP and “2030” dream plans.  Will they be false promises as many earlier political party slogans?

Above all, the end of the ‘non-standard’ coalition will come again – may become a familiar pattern of Mongolian politics because the political institutions, which set under the 1992 Constitution, have many flaws. One of which is inefficient decision-making mechanism and disintegrated political institutions that will never be fully accountable for the people.  Rather the system will consolidate more web-like informal networks among politicians and business entrepreneurs.  Because the formal institutions face frequent “no-go”, only charismatic political entrepreneurs like Bayar and now likely Battulga (as would-be) introduce the political innovations (as we, Mongolians, coin ‘non-standard’ decisions) using the informal networks. This ‘non-standard’ pattern of integration and disintegration of the Mongolian political forces seem to continue until the formal institutions are fixed and followed.

About mendee

Jargalsaikhan Mendee is a Deputy Director of the Institute for Defense Studies of Mongolia. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, and MAs in International Relations from the US Naval Postgraduate School and in Asia-Pacific Policy Studies from the Institute of Asian Research of the University of British Columbia.
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