Cabinet Speculation

By Julian Dierkes

As it has become clearer over the weekend that the likely constellation for the new Mongolian government under Prime Minister Ch Saikhanbileg will be a super-coalition involving all political parties and thus 73 of the 76 members of the Ikh Khural, speculation online has been active regarding cabinet appointments.

The political mood seems to be very much favouring a cabinet that would involve relatively fewer MPs, i.e. ministers that wear the single deel of cabinet membership rather than the double-deel of MP & cabinet member. This same discussion has sometimes referred to a “professional cabinet“, though as MP S Demberel pointed out in a tweet to me, all government/cabinets should be professional:

There seems to be no easy term that would designate a nominee for a minister who brings substantive expertise and experience rather than “just” political clout and connections, but that’s what I understand people to mean by a professional cabinet.

The rationale behind the super coalition (as opposed to a grand coalition of DP + MPP which would have a clear majority in parliament already) seems to lie in the recognition of the current economic crisis and the need for parliament to take responsibility for this crisis and to take collective action. It’s not clear to me in this logic why the DP and its coalition partners don’t bear primary responsibility for the crisis, but at the same time, I certainly welcome a super coalition as a constellation that seems more likely to tackle real issues by avoiding blaming each other. I can’t imagine that blaming the three-member opposition of independent MPs will fly as an electoral strategy in June 2016.

Cabinet Speculation

Obviously, speculation about cabinet appointments is a bit of idle fun, as was the attempt to guess who the next PM would be. But, there’s nothing wrong with idle fun.

Obviously, we’ve not had even an announcement of whether the new cabinet would be structured around 16 ministries or the Altankhuyag-introduced 13 ministries. In some ways, a supercoalition would suggest more posts that could be divided between coalition members, but perhaps not.

Some of the following will surely be included: Deputy PM (multiple), Min of Foreign Affairs, Min of Justice, Min of Finance, Min of Mines & Energy, Cabinet Secretary, Min of Agriculture, Min of Labour, Min of Health, etc.

I wouldn’t claim that I’ve made an exhaustive list of possibilities that are being mentioned, but some names do seem to be cropping up more regularly.

L Purevsuren had already been nominated by Altankhuyag to replace L Bold as foreign minister. That Possibility seems to still exist. Obviously, Purevsuren would be seen as an expert in the appropriate portfolio coming out of the diplomatic service himself. He would also be a bridge to Pres Elbegdorj, serving as his foreign policy and security advisor at the moment, which would be useful given the role of the presidency in foreign relations.

R Jigjid is on a couple of lists as a possible Min of Mining which would be a similarly substantive appointment.

MPs who are being mentioned frequently for various posts include U Khurelsukh (MPP), M Enkhsaikhan (MNDP), Ya Sodbaatar (MPP), S Byambatsogt (MPP). Byambatsogt and Khurelsukh also seem likely candidates for Deputy PM representing the MPP.

Other appointments that would involve individuals who are not prominent (party) politicians are a little harder to guess about and not too many of those seem to be on many lists, so there may well be some surprises. It also seems like most lists include very few women, so the actual announcement of nominations will be interesting to watch in that regard as well, particularly because the Women’s Caucus has been quite active in legislative terms, and some women like M Batchimeg have been playing quite a prominent role in recent weeks (as leader of the DP coalition negotiations in Batchimeg’s case, for example).

Some of the prominent politicians who seem to be absent from speculation about cabinet posts: “Genco” Battulga, R Amarjargal, “Fortuna” Batbayar, L Bold, Kh Temuujin.

About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He toots and tweets @jdierkes
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