By Julian Dierkes
The election campaign for the State Great Khural election on June 29 is over halfway through its official 18-day period. While it has been an active campaign for the 498 candidates, and visibly so, it has been politically or substantively lackluster.
I have frequently lamented in the past that Mongolian political parties do not offer much of a chance for citizens to give voice to their political views or preferences for the future of the country, as the parties are not defined by political platforms, but rather by personalities and patronage relations.
True enough, this campaign reinforces that impression. Not a single contested issue has really risen to the fore as something that the parties are defining themselves and their campaign around.
When ambitions are stated, they are typically described in such vague and general terms that few policy specifics can be deduced from them. Instead, a candidate’s qualifications are announced and opponents’ personal qualities are denounced. At the broadest level, the MPP is talking more about the debt that Mongolia finds itself in (and blames the DP for this debt), while the DP is highlighting some elements of transparency in mining governance.
— Julian Dierkes (@jdierkes) June 28, 2016
The biggest publicity splash has been the announcement of a Tavan Tolgoi share buyback, but that really is populism in its most naked form, i.e. “hello voter, we’ll give you cash!”. There has been no policy argument attached to that, nor has the announcement really been questioned in those terms.
Black and Grey Campaigning
On social media (I continue to update the list of candidates’ Twitter accounts and I’ve identified 75 of the 498 candidates), candidates have been quite visible, but mostly just that, i.e. visible. Lots of photos from the campaign trail, some very active tweeting about candidates, some campaign-like tweeting from DP and MPP. Curiously, hashtags remain underused, even by the parties, and the notion of using social media, RTs and hashtags as a way to mobilize voters is also not apparent in the activities that are visible.
To some, the most entertaining news has been the surreptitious video of Erdenechimeg, smoking and seemingly drunk. It’s unfortunate as a measure of the quality of debate, but also because she had been a member of the women’s caucus that pushed for smoking and alcohol limitations.
Women candidates have not been particularly visible. I was actually quite surprised by an official MPP tweet that had the 20% of candidates who are women barely visible at all. The MPP doesn’t strike me as any worse in this regard than the DP, I just found this photo so visually striking at a time when any Canadian politician would be sure to feature women very prominently in campaign photographs.
— Миеэгомбын Энхболд (@MEnkhbold) June 19, 2016