Balance of Power in Expanded Parliament

By Julian Dierkes

The 2019 constitutional amendments were partly aimed at shifting the balance of power toward parliament and cabinet, away from the presidency. For example, the prohibition on the double deel was intended to strengthen the prime minister by offering them a bit more independence from parliament. Conversely, powers to create parliamentary committees were meant to strengthen parliament’s ability.

For some of these amendments, we won’t know whether they might have had the desired effect as they have been overturned already last year, i.e. the double deel prohibition. An MPP prime minister coexisting with an MPP president – despite the regular discussions of divisions and rivalry between them – during an MPP supermajority is probably also not the time to really put the desired shift of power to a test. That is not because the MPP can railroad any changes through, but because of the ongoing fragmentation of power and some of the surprising challenges in governing with a supermajority.

What will parliamentary vs cabinet power look like in the next UIX?

The expansion in the number of seats seems likely to shift the balance of power in parliament. The split between 78 majoritarian districts and 48 proportional representation seats suggests that the status of these “different” MPs might differ and their role in potential cabinets and in legislative activities with that.

Abstract arguments about the relative power of directly-elected and party-list MPs are easy to construct. On the one hand, directly elected MPs have a constituency that serves as the basis of their power and they can potentially turn to that constituency in justifying decisions that might even counter party positions. While they are beholden to the party (leadership), on the other hand, MPs elected by a national list might point to their relative national prominence and the importance of political parties in justifying their decisions.

Early discussions ahead of the next election suggestion that the former rationale might play a more significant role. But the nomination of candidates in coming weeks will also offer some indication. I have previously speculated about some of the decisions in nominations. If many prominent incumbents are nominated in their (expanded) electoral districts, we might conclude that they see more of a logic that points to the power rooted in a direct electorate, but if any incumbents or prominent new candidates choose the party lists, that might suggest that national prominence and a national constituency might also serve as a perceived power basis. That logic would primarily hold for the MPP, of course, perhaps also for the DP which is likely to nominate a full slate of 126 candidates as well, though conclusions regarding the DP would be less drawn from incumbency, more prominence, given the small number of incumbents.

By contrast, one might suspect that prominent KhUN candidates might prefer to be nominated for high spots on the part list where their chance to be elected via proportional representation might be significantly higher. They might therefore see their opposition mandate as being more of a national mandate, rather than being rooted in a specific constituency.

It does not seem like there is any more inherent power in directly elected seats compared to those elected from a party lists. In practice, newly introduced proportional representation seats might seem to be diminished by comparison, but decisions by incumbents and parties in this and future elections could easily shift that perception.

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
This entry was posted in Democracy, Democratic Party, Governance, Ikh Khural 2024, JD Democratization, KhUN, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics, Politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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