By Julian Dierkes
In the morning of Nov 5, 2014, 11 of the 17 members of the standing committee of the State Great Khural voted in support of a vote of no confidence in PM Altankhuyag. This passed the motion to the full parliament where 36 of 76 members voted in support with 30 voting against. The 36 supporters of the no-confidence motion included a number of DP MPs: R Amarjargal, D Battsogt, Kh Battulga, J Batzandan, R Burmaa, L Erdenechimeg, B Narankhuu, M Zorigt. 7 DP members were absent: D Arvin, M Batchimeg, G Bayarsaikhan, S Erdene, D Ganbat, D Ganhuyag, S Odontuya (all save Batchimeg from the Shonkhor (Falcon or Hawk) faction). From the MPRP Ts Oyunbaatar, Ch Ulaan were absent while L Tsog and G Uyanga voted against Altankhuyag. The total number of votes (66) satisfied the requirement of two thirds of MPs present for this vote.
N Altankhuyag was the longest-serving PM from the DP with 819 days in government. Since 1992 only two PMs have served full terms: Jasrai from 1992-1996 and Enkhbayar from 2000-2004.
What Happens Next
First, a care-taker government under deputy PM D Terbishdagva has taken over.
As the DP-Justice Coalition coalition still holds a majority, the first discussions will surely be DP-internal to see if the party might rally around a candidate for PM to propose to its coalition partner. The sense that some of the DP MPs revolt was sparked by the agreement Altankhuyag signed with the MPRP suggests that a candidate for PM will have to resolve or at least address that tension in some way. The party council is reported to have been called for this Friday.
In all likelihood, discussions about candidates and possible alternative coalitions are already in full swing.
If the DP cannot agree on a candidate or discussions with the Justice Coalition around support for a DP candidate fail, the next most likely option would seem to be discussions about a grand coalition between the DP and MPP, with or without other parties (more likely without). This would suggest a DP PM and MPP Speaker of the Great State Khural as one possible scenario.
A remote possibility also exists that a coalition under MPP leadership could form with support of defecting DP members and/or the other parties.
The final possibility is that parliament is dissolved and new elections are called.
Without going into too many legal issues, the basic situation seems to be as follows.
Parliament is obligated to elect a Prime Minister within 30 days (from Nov 5). If a Prime Minister cannot be elected in this period, this triggers presidential involvement for another 45 day period.
At any moment if the president deems parliament incapable of proceeding, the president can suggest a vote to dissolve parliament to parliament. Seven days after that determination, the president can dissolve parliament by decree.
Parliament can also decide to dissolve itself with a two thirds majority.
Note that the President on his own initiative cannot put a candidate forward for a parliamentary vote.
Thanks and Comments
Thanks to G Damdinnyam & J Mendee (both UBC grad students) for helping me understand the context.
If there are any factual errors in the above, I certainly welcome corrections. Please also share your views of likely scenarios using the comment function.