How We Covered the Presidential Election

By Julian Dierkes

It’s been an exhausting but exhilarating summer, Mongolia’s election season.

I tried – together with a number of students – to provide observations, interpretations and analyses of the campaigns and both rounds of voting.

I reported on serving as an international election observer for the fifth time, in the sixth election in a row that I witnessed (last year, I had to leave before election day, so I didn’t formally monitor the election).

As always, I struggled with trying to address a vaguely-Mongolia-interested audience in the same way as other Mongolia-focused people who might read the blog. That remains a difficult task and in the end, I tend to err on the side of the specialist.

In the end, some thought I wrote a bit too much which I very much enjoyed as a comment.

Blog Posts and Twitter Audiences

From the first outlooks on the election in Fall 2016 through the election and its aftermath (July 31), we wrote 45  posts tagged “presidential 2017

As of mid-September, these posts had been read over 7,500 times.

From June 1 to July 31 my tweets (focused almost entirely on the election during this period) reached 640,000 impressions.

I (sometimes together with co-authors) also wrote a number of pieces for other media, particularly The Diplomat and The Conversation.


I received a lot of requests for interviews during this period.

In the end, I spoke to 18 different journalists (print and broadcast). Most were writing short articles or airing brief reports. I am aware of 15 articles that quoted me directly and think that I appeared in 7 TV or radio reports.


So, why so much writing and giving so many interviews?

The biggest goal in speaking to foreign journalists about the election is to try to offer them my interpretation of Mongolian developments, often to counter the conventional wisdom that may circulate among journalists. A great example of that is the interpretation that an Enkhbold victory would have brought “stability” to which I replied, “but what would remain stable?”. When the MPP claims to be investor-friendly, what is behind that label? Is that stability that has a chance to be long-lasting? That is not to say that I tried to argue against anyone voting for Enkhbold, but rather than an interpretation of the implications of his (hypothetical) election as bringing stability is too simplistic. Another example is all the silly articles that have come out of China or from a Chinese perspective that seem to be concerned about Pres. Battulga unleashing some kind of anti-Chinese … well, what? I’m not sure.

Because the world public gets very little information, I think it is important that those of us who focus much of our research attention on Mongolia and especially on current developments try to pass some of the results of our research on to the public. International journalist continue to be an effective conduit for passing on interpretations even though I may wish that the world would just come directly to the source, i.e. read the blog.

I hope that I have not reached the point of some colleagues that I speak to issues regarding Mongolia that others are really much more competent on.

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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2 Responses to How We Covered the Presidential Election

  1. Your analyses are highly appreciated and very useful, certainly for a newcomer to the Mongolian scenery such as me!

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