By Julian Dierkes
Recent constitutional amendments will have a profound impact on the 2024 parliamentary election especially as they will change candidates’ calculus about their nomination. Individuals seeking office or re-election will have the option of attempting to win one of 78 majoritarian seats or be placed high enough on the party list to win one of the 48 proportional representation seats. While it is a bit early more than half a year ahead of the election to speculate about specific individuals’ choice in this regard, there may well be some broad patterns across the three parties that are likely to context most seats, the MPP, DP, and KhUN. Strategic opportunities may align similarly for potential candidates across DP and KhUN in this case, but given the MPP supermajority based on the majoritarian 2020 election, there may be a different dynamic there. It also remains to be seen what impact party finance will have on all of this, for example restrictions on candidates’ spending of private monies, etc.
Choices in Securing Nomination
If candidates had free reign in selection a majoritarian vs a proportional candidacy it would seem like there might be two different sets of factors that would determine that choice:
- likelihood of election
- relative power/influence of seats.
Current incumbents have been elected in a majoritarian election in 2020, so those incumbents that won significant shares of the vote in that election are likely to try to secure nomination in majoritarian races, I imagine. On the other hand, there may be new calculations around the role of the party leadership in this kind of election.
For example, if L Oyun-Erdene will lead the MPP into the coming election, should he secure the first spot on the party list as a his route to a parliamentary seat or should he return to Khentii to run in the majoritarian election there? Both elections would be relatively safe for him, but the decision may have implications for his as well as the party’s campaign strategy. If the party concludes that his leadership will be a net benefit to individuals’ electoral chances, there may a preference to have him in the top spot on the party list to allow him to campaign all over the country without having to spend particular attention to his own constituency.
One of the big questions about the MPP candidates will be where women will fit in. If my guess is right that incumbents will try to cling to their majoritarian districts, then presumably the party list for the 48 proportional seats will be heavily populated by female candidates to reach the overall required quota of female candidates. If this turns out to be true and many of those women will be pushed to the bottom of the party list, we might not see a significant increase in women’s representation in the next Ikh Khural. If, by contrast, a number of female candidates are able to secure nomination in higher ranks of the party list, their election may be quite likely and the number of females MPs might thus increase.
In the past, the DP has always run a full slate of 76 candidates. This has been in line with its self-perception as the second party, but cynics might also observe that the funds that candidates have brought into the party have been necessary to finance party activities. With the new party law, that source of income may have changed, but I imagine that the party will still try to run a full slate in the 78 direct election ridings, as well as the 48 proportional representation ridings. The DP continues to have some kind of party organization all across the country, so that a full slate is at least plausible in terms of the campaign resources that would be required.
Access to the party list may also become a subject of negotiations between some of the spin-off parties as they consider re-merging with the DP. Lu Bold would be a prominent former DP leader who might expect a strong list candidacy as a condition for re-merging. On the other hand, he has prominence and a previous record in Khaan-Uul that might mean that he might demand a direct seat candidacy there.
For some of the DP grandees who lost their seats in the 2020 election, it’s unclear whether they will be more tempted by direct election candidacies. I imagine that it will also be likely that there will be some internal battles over the placement of younger candidates, especially some of the younger, more prominent female candidates. This is one of the areas where the electoral campaign will be interesting to watch. For DP, the nomination of strong women candidates on the party list could send a real signal of renewal to the electorate that might also benefit some of the direct election candidates. On the other hand, the DP has been unable to initiate any kind of generational change over the past five years as it has been under Kh Battulga’s peculiar leadership, so there i no real reason to believe that a renewal is coming.
For KhUN it might be overly ambitious to nominate a full slate. There just does not seem to be the party organization all across the country to sustain a full campaign, so that nominations in ridings or at list spots that are somewhat hopeless, even with an eye toward establishing the party as more of a force for the 2027 presidential or 2028 parliamentary election, might just require too many resources to be a strategic decision.
There is a set of about a dozen individuals who have gained some prominence as KhUN leaders. I imagine that most of them will seek nomination via the party list and that that’s where their best chances lie. This includes a number of prominent women, of course, so that it would not be entirely surprising of the proportion of female candidates might be highest for KhUN among the three main parties.
If much of the KhUN leadership or its most visible representatives opts to be candidates on the party list not in direct ridings, that could change the nature of the campaign significantly and tilt their campaign toward a stronger party platform as a basis to approach voters. When you are trying to persuade a proportion of voters to vote for your party, you might emphasize the strong candidates that you have nominated in the first, say 15, spots, but it would seem more efficient to emphasize a substantive political agenda along with the collective personal qualification. The arrival of more substantive campaign platforms is something that I have been eagerly awaiting in all the elections since 2008 that I have observed in-country (with the exception of the 2020 and 2021 COVID elections, of course).