[This post was researched and co-written by Brian White at The Mongolist blog.]
Bat-Erdene’s platform begins similarly to Udval’s by describing challenges facing the country. He does not go as far as Udval in labeling them as “dangers,” but the same message is being conveyed about the social and economic conditions in the country. He describes a divided government not meeting the needs of the people, a deteriorating natural environment, stagnant wages and high prices, disappointment in Oyu Tolgoi not living up to its promise, an unfair legal environment, and the lack of broad-based government policy.
The platform is divided into eight sections categorized by “responsibilities” the president has to the country. These are: 1. promote national unity, 2. lead a fair society, 3. promote correct economic policies, 4. implement policies that protect the environment and shore up the national wealth equally and fairly, 5. make the law and courts equally and fairly serve the people, 6. stabilize government employees’ working conditions to provide the people equal and fair services, 7. maintain balanced and friendly foreign relations, and 8. adhere to democracy and elevate the national character.
Within each section he outlines specific policy positions. There is significant overlap in policies with the other two candidates, but there are areas in which the platform is distinct. Under section three, for example, Bat-Erdene emphasizes support for agriculture and animal husbandry. Elbegdorj also outlines policies to support domestic industries but in much broader terms. Udval is more concerned with the social safety net and work conditions.
Section four includes a promise to more aggressively manage environmental and mining policies. He supports reexamining all mining licenses and debating which projects benefit the country’s development (and presumably eliminating those that don’t) and establishing tough government control over those projects. Oyu Tolgoi is mentioned directly under its own policy position in this section with a call to improve the investment agreement to make it more profitable and balanced. Tavan Tolgoi is conspicuously absent in the any of the policies areas. Udval does include Tavan Tolgoi along with Oyu Tolgoi in areas concerning large strategic deposits, and Elbegdorj does not mention any of the large projects by name, only referring to the mining industry in general terms.
His choice of words is interesting with some policies in section two. Instead of saying “I support policy X,” he says “I support examining policy X.” Examples are reducing the cost of public transportation for the poor in Ulaanbaatar, reducing the costs of higher education, and creating services to support ex-military personnel. The way these issues are presented gives the impression of wanting to strike a populist chord without actually committing to any of them. Given the president’s limited ability to implement specific policies one could argue that most positions taken in the platforms are empty promises, so equivocal statements with a positive tone stand out against the other unequivocal positions the president has little real power to implement.
Social Media and Images
Both, Bat-Erdene’s homepage as well as his election platform page display logos for Facebook and YouTube very prominently. They also include a Twitter feed. Interestingly, this feed displays messages from Bat-Erdene (fairly sparse), as well as messages that are tweeted at him or mention him. When I tweeted about this post, for example, my tweet showed up immediately on Bat-Erdene’s feed. Such an unfiltered stream means that – surprisingly – criticism as well as praise and random mentions show up on the campaign webpage.
Most of the images on the website show Bat-Erdene among large crowds of people, though they don’t particularly seem to play up his wrestling past or any claims to traditional values.
See also Bat-Erdene’s foreign policy platform.
Pingback: Politics During the Current Economic Crisis | Mongolia Focus