Mongolian Parliament Election and Uncertainty on an Electronic Vote-Counting System by Otgonbaatar (Waseda University)

The election is drawing close attention from both domestically and overseas residing Mongolians, not only because there are many pending issues that are holding their solutions in the Mongolian society.

But also, this is because the State Great Khural (Parliament)[1]  is the highest organ of state power as explicitly stated in article twenty of the Mongolian constitution[2]  and it holds many important authorities over, for example, supervising the state annual budget, appointing the prime minister and cabinet, and defining the basis of domestic and foreign policies. Basically, the State Great Khural is the highest decision-making unit of the Mongolian political system.

As the Great Khural’s election is approaching in just a little more than three months away from today, implicit and explicit election propagandas has started to heat up in Mongolian media these days. From voters standpoint, the below mentioned issues would likely be the biggest concern when Mongolians decide whom they vote for in the upcoming parliament election.

  1. Problems in good governance – corruption, a lack of transparency and an injustice in judiciary system,
  2. Livelihood problems – air pollution, traffic and disorganization of city planning in Ulaanbaatar,
  3. And more general problems – rapidly growing income disparity and environmental degradations.

Mongolian democracy has already been recognized by international community, although it is not one of the well-established democracies of the world. Indeed, there is an urgent need for further improvements.

On the 14th of December of 2011, the Great Khural passed amendments to the electoral law. One of the notable changes was introducing a new electronic way of vote-counting system. So, for the first time in Mongolian election history, the new amendment has introduced “a mixed-member quasi proportional election system” which is widely expected to solve previous election incidents, like five people were killed in the demonstration against electoral fraud on July 1, 2008.  Nonetheless, the new one is not out of questionings. It seems it also has a long way to be implemented as Mongolians wanted.

The general election committee of Mongolia (GEC) has been the highest organizing body of the elections in Mongolia since 1992. In other words, whether an election goes without incidents or not, is depends upon how the GEC works, in principle. Moreover, by the new electoral law, the GEC has been assigned responsibility for introducing a new electronic vote-counting system, however, its insufficient preparedness and inexperience of handling the electronic machine, have been under a heavy criticism from general public, as well as some MPs.  Dissatisfied voices on the GEC’s action have increased in the major media.  For instance, due to the low reliability of the proposed machines, the GEC’s first proposal on the electronic system has failed in the Parliament discussion on January. But, as reported in newspapers, the Great Khural has screened the GEC’s later proposal of buying electronic vote-counting machines from the U.S in the early February. The machines will be brought to Mongolia by late May, just a month before the election. Thus, it is really questionable that the GEC will be able to train staff to run the machines properly.

To sum up, many of the previous election entanglements were mainly caused by vote-counting incidents after balloting.  A lack of capable human resources who needs to run the electric vote-counting machines, would lead an uncertain situation despite a promising amendments to the electoral law. Since an electronic vote-counting system is considered to be the one of the fundamental components of the new electoral law in order to have cleaner parliament election in Mongolia.

About the Author:
Otgonbaatar Byambaa, a Ph.D. Candidate at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University, has been conducting a research on Chinese energy security and its state-owned enterprises. He has a Master’s degree in IR from International University of Japan.  Otgonbaatar is one of many young Mongolians who are educated in overseas and he has visited to UBC.

[1] The Parliament – The State Great Khural have one chamber and consist of 76 members that directly elected by citizens eligible for election.

[2] See


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.
This entry was posted in Democracy, Elections, Ikh Khural 2012, Otgonbaayar Byambaa, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Mongolian Parliament Election and Uncertainty on an Electronic Vote-Counting System by Otgonbaatar (Waseda University)

  1. Brandon Miliate and I have written an article for East Asia Forum that reports on the success of electronic counting in the election.

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