By Marissa J. Smith and Julian Dierkes
Obviously, election campaigns are not entirely defined by campaign slogans. Nevertheless, slogans are a shorthand how candidates and parties are trying to present themselves, so we hope that a brief discussion of slogans might be of interest.
Here is a tweet tile summarizing the three presidential candidates’ slogans:
— News.mn (@News_mn) May 26, 2021
It’s a bit odd that News.mn has chosen a masked photo for Enkhbat, but not for Erdene or Khurelsukh, but that would be a different topic.
All three candidates have included “Mongol,” which may mean the country of Mongolia [Монгол Улс], the nation(ality) of Mongolians [Монгол ард түмэн], and also refer to individual Mongolian persons [Монгол хүн]. This obviously makes it an especially useful campaign term, and it was realized to great effect by Battulga.
Монгол Улсын Ерөнхийлөгчийн сонгуульд МАН-аас нэр дэвшигч У.Хүрэлсүх “ШУДАРГА ЁС-ХӨГЖЛИЙН ГЭРЭЭ” мөрийн хөтөлбөрөө танилцууллаа.#МонголУлсынТөлөөЗүтгэе! #БаялагтааЭзэнМонгол ???????????????????????? pic.twitter.com/I3qckbbtJZ
— Монгол Ардын Нам (@ArdiinNam) May 24, 2021
These are all terms that are probably recognizable, if not familiar, to anyone who has considered Mongolian political speech.
While both including Монгол à la Battulga, these are much longer slogans, and include formal and somewhat traditionally-coloured terms, in contrast to Battulga’s use of “winning” (which probably also referenced Trump).
The first is “Let’s strive for Mongolia,” зүтгэх being a verb that is often found in socialist as well as contemporary political speech, having the flavour of collective, but directed action (i.e., by the party or enterprise management).
The second is “Mongolia/Mongolians are the Owners of Their Wealth.” Though баялаг refers specifically to mineral resources, it is related to the abstract term for wealth or value, баян, used in many formal, ceremonial, and ritual contexts (for example, it is an element of many place names). Эзэн is a term for a political-economically effective sovereign that operates across a huge spectrum, and can refer to Chinggis Khaan (often referred to as Эзэн Чингис; “empire” is эзэн гүрэн), the head of a household or herding group (the эзэн of a ger or an ail, including herd animals), and the sovereign entity or force, sometimes represented anthropomorphically or zoomorphically, associated with parts of the landscape, particularly mountains, which must be properly respected by humans also inhabiting and extracting flora, fauna, and minerals from the landscape that “belong to” and are replenished by the эзэн. With this slogan, Khurelsukh is no doubt referencing the MPP-led government’s recent efforts to renegotiate the OT agreement and issue new TT bonds, and also the number of large industrial projects that he has been naming in his program (“The Agreement for Justice and Development”), which include oil production, natural gas pipeline(s), and steel production, and which the MPP has been loudly talking about for some time now.
— Ардчилсан нам /DP/ (@DemocraticMN) May 25, 2021
The DP is using #ДарангуйлалгүйМонгол as its slogan.
In the end, we settled on “Mongolia without Dictatorship” as the best translation, though Anand offered “Mongolia without Oppression” as an alternative.
Etymologically related to дарангуйлал are дарах (“to press,” as in “a button”), and даралт (“pressure,” including referring to air pressure and blood pressure). “Oppression” makes a lot of sense as a translation of “дарангуйлал.” However, “dictatorship” also carries across how дарангуйлал is specifically associated with a particular leader, be it Tsedenbal, or, as seems obvious in this case, Khurelsukh, and also Battulga. And possibly also former MP Altankhuyag, who was put forward by the second wing of the DP (which includes all 13 DP members of Parliament) but refused registration.
Цэдэнбал дангаар төрийг 50 жил удирдан хүмүүсийг хилс хэрэг, тахин шүтэх үзэл дарангуйлал бий боллоо гээд олонхоор шийдвэр гаргадаг ардчилалыг бий болгосон.
Улс төрчдийн заль нарийсч Ардчилсан засаглалын зармыг гуйвуулдаг болсон.
— Даваагийн Ганбаяр (@Ganbayar_Davaa) August 28, 2018
Монголчууд анх удаа нийтээрээ Ерөнхийлөгчөө захиалж, жирийн иргэн инженер др. Д.Энхбатыг сонгох шинэ сонголтын өмнө ирээд байна.
— Тогмидын ДОРЖХАНД (@dorjkhand_t) May 24, 2021
Speaking of “igniting,” KhUN has used used novel political language in their slogan #НийгэмдээГэрэлАсаацгаая
Rather than the “state” or “nation,” they invoke “society,” and rather than pushing them to “awake” (сэргэх) and carry out a predetermined path, they use the term for “to kindle, ignite,” which stimulates associations with creativity and innovation.
KhUN has also riffed off of Battulga’s slogan with #МонголЧадна, but without bogging the slogan down with unnecessary syllables or accusatory 1 million tugrug words. Чадах is one of the first words that anyone learning the Mongolian language learns and one that forms a fundamental part of any Mongolian language user’s vocabulary, and means “to be able to.” The slogan nicely carries tones of success and achievement, without the dogwhistling implications of there being enemies or losers, as Battulga’s (and Trump’s) slogan did.