By Julian Dierkes
Now that we have three confirmed candidates, let’s think about how the campaign and vote might unfold.
First, a humble attempt at a joke that emerged from a tweeted discussion about politicians’ nick names:
— Julian Dierkes (@jdierkes) May 17, 2017
[city boy = Enkhbold M as he presents himself as a country-side horse breeder, but has spent his life in Ulaanbaatar and has his political strength in the city, judoka = Battulga, Feng Shui = Ganbaataar who sold Feng Shui paraphernalia at some point in his career.]
I also used this quip in a recent article for The Diplomat that aimed to give an introduction/overview over the candidates.
Will Three-Way Race Lead to Run-Off?
There has never been a run-off in Mongolian presidential elections. Note that voter participation has to be above 50% for a valid vote, and a single candidate has to receive more than 50% to avoid a run-off.
There is a reasonable case that suggests that the current constellation of candidates makes a run-off more likely than previously. It seems quite possible that Battulga and Ganbaatar can win 50% between the two of them, leaving less than 50% of the vote for Enkhbold and forcing a run-off, likely two weeks later. The case for this suggests that the DP should be able to mobilize voters roughly at the level of last year’s parliamentary election (33%), while the MPRP will likely generate a share of 10%+, so with some of the swing vote going to protest voters or voters opposed to MPP dominance, it seems imaginable that Battulga receives close to 40% and Ganbaatar more than 10%.
Votes for Ganbaatar or Battulga could be a positive vote for either candidate, or a protest against Enkhbold or MPP domination, or a desire for a second round of voting for a clearer choice.
Given that the DP and MPRP candidates seem to be arranged as an antithesis (current power constellation, personality, etc.) to Enkhbold, it seems unlikely that either would top Enkhbold’s vote count.
Of course, given the unpredictability of Ganbaatar and Battulga in their past political utterances and campaigning, either of them might well self-destruct at some point during the 18-day campaign period.
If a second round of voting does become necessary, all bets are off, as it would remain to be seen whether the candidate eliminated might endorse either of the remaining candidates, and the extent one or another of the candidates might scare off the electorate through their volatility.