The Likelihood of Constitutional Reform

By Julian Dierkes

The likelihood of constitutional reform in Mongolia is primarily determined by party politics at the moment.

Discussions of the constitution have been active in recent years. I have written about the extent to which the campaign platforms seem to ignore these discussions.

But how likely is it that constitutional reform will be taken up after the election?

Recalibrating the Balance of Power Between Presidency and Parliament

One of the main topics of discussions about constitutional reform is some kind of re-balancing of power between parliament and the presidency. This suggests two clear options, i.e. a turn toward a (more) parliamentary or a (more) presidential democracy. Generally, current discussions seem to favour an expansion of the powers of parliament.

Of course, the MPP comfortably owns the 2/3 majority of MPs that is required to initiate constitutional changes by sending them to a popular vote. 65 of 76 seats? No problem!

As current party chair and UIX chairman, M Enkhbold controls the legislative agenda of the governing MPP. But, should he be elected as president, he has to relinquish his status as party chairman, nay even member of the party.

What Would Happen Under President Enkhbold?

If he wins the presidency, there will be a significant battle in the MPP over control of the party. Obviously, Enkhbold would want a close associate in that role to coordinate presidential policy with parliamentary and government decisions. But, it is far from clear that such a close associate will win out in the leadership contest in the MPP. Party leaders have typically also been the prime minister, so that could be an additional battle that would ensue.

Even if an Enkhbold associate were to win out in these battles, this would not guarantee that proposals for constitutional reforms would strengthen the presidency as President Enkhbold would undoubtedly prefer. By the same token, it seems unlikely that a non-Enkhbold party leader would open pursue a curtailment of the powers of an MPP president.

And What Might Happen Under President GanTulga?

In the seemingly unlikely event of a Ganbaatar or Battulga victory, it seems almost certain that parliament would pursue constitutional reform very quickly in order to curtail the powers of that particular president.

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
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