Election Primer 2020 – Electoral System & Procedures

By Julian Dierkes and Mendee Jargalsaikhan

After experimenting the 2015 election law with integrated parliamentary, presidential, and local elections, in the 2016-2017 election cycles, the parliament agreed to pass separate laws governing each election. The integrated election law created more administrative and legal burdens than reducing the costs and streamlining the electoral process.

On December 20, 2019, the parliament passed the Law on Parliamentary Elections, which now specifies the regular parliamentary election for June and to enact relevant procedural decisions such as the election date and electoral boundaries by February 1 of the regular election year.

Election Date & Electoral Districts

Consequently, on January 31, the parliament decided to organize the 2020 parliamentary election on June 24 and allocated 24 seats for Ulaanbaatar, capital city districts, 52 for the provinces.

The MPP-dominated parliament simply returned to the multi-member majoritarian model – which was used in the 1992 and 2008 parliamentary elections. Starting from this year, the local elections for citizens’ khural representatives for provinces/soums and capital city/districts will be organized separately in October.

This is how the number of MPs will be distributed across multi-member districts:

Electoral Districts Number of Mandates (Seats)
Provinces
Bulgan, Gobi-Altai, Dundgobi-Gobisumber, Dornod, Dornogobi, Zavkhan, Umnugobi, Sukhbaatar 2 per province
Arkhangai, Bayan-Ulgii, Bayankhongor, Uvurkhangai, Selenge, Tuv, Uvs, Khovd, Khuvsgul, Khentii, Darkhan-Uul, and Orkhon 3 per province
Ulaanbaatar – Capital City
Bagakhangai-Baganuur-Nalaikh 2 for all three districts (combined)
Sukhbaatar, Chingeltei, Bayangol, Khan-Uul 3 per district
Bayanzurkh, Songinokhairkhan 5 per district

Source: General Election Commission of Mongolia

It remains unclear what number of votes voters will have, with some suggestions that the maximum would be three. Voters in 2- or 3-member districts would thus vote for all their members from their districts, while Bayanzurkh and Songinokhairkhan would somehow have to be split so that voters do not have five choices. To be clarified…

Update Mar 11: Confirmed that Bayanzurkh and Songinokhairkhan have been split into two districts with 2/3 seats each.

While the minimum threshold of 50% voter turnout per electoral district remains in place, there is no minimum threshold for an individual candidate within a district.

Key Dates

Both laws on public service and parliamentary election require public servants, including those holding senior posts at state-owned enterprises, to resign from public posts by January 1st of the regular election year if they have intentions to compete in the election.   However, those holding political posts, for example, ministers and vice-ministers, are excluded from the mandatory resignation requirement.

The registration of citizens’ residency change/transfer will be temporarily suspended from February 1 of the regular election year until the day after the regular election (June 25). This will reduce any attempts of voter transfers (known as ‘grasshopper voters’) during the election.

The General Election Commission will register political parties and coalitions 60 days prior to the election (Apr 25) after reviewing all relevant documents, including the election campaign platform along with audited reviews.

Parties and independent candidates will submit their candidacy nominations 38 days before the election (May 17) along with clearances from courts (e.g., debts) and taxation offices. The new legislation requires that parties will officially begin the candidate nomination process 45 days (May 10) before the election.

The new legislation permits candidates to begin their campaign 22 days prior to the election (June 2) after receiving their candidacy. Despite proposals from several lawmakers, the parliament and the General Election Commission have refrained from imposing any restrictions on social media use during the election.

Other

There are quite a few surprising changes in the election law and relevant procedural decisions. The new law requires parties and coalitions to allocate at least 20 percent of candidacy for each gender.

The upper threshold for monetary donations to campaigns has been raised: private donations from ₮3 million to ₮5 million and organizational (business entity) donations from ₮15 million to ₮20 million. The General Election Commission would continue to use the electronic counting system, however, 50% of electoral districts will be subject to random manual counting.

The new legislation increases the role of the National Audit Office [Үндэсний аудитын Газар] as it requires all political parties and candidates to have their election platforms audited prior to the registration by the General Election Commission. Moreover, as the Chief of the GEC claims, that the procedures and jurisdictional boundaries for courts, police, intelligence,  and two other government agencies (the Communications and Information Technology Authority and the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection) are now clearly drawn in order to resolve any election-related complaints and allegations in timely manner.

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 tweets @jdierkes
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