DP Results

By Julian Dierkes

To me, the success of the DP was one of the surprises of the June 28 election.

To my surprise, the DP soared to claim one third of seats in #Mongolia parliament.
#Сонгууль2024 #Сонгууль #MGLpoli

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— Mongolia Focus (@mongoliafocus.bsky.social) Jul 9, 2024 at 4:12 PM

Below, I want to speculate about what might explain some of this success. I would note that in the absence of polling, especially exit polling, this remains speculation for now. Some obvious questions about this result, for example the concentration of non-MPP votes in Ulaanbaatar, perhaps, will remain unanswered unless the Central Election Commission releases further and more detailed results at some point. These results could be available to the parties themselves, as their party observers will have received scans of all ballots on a polling-station-by-polling station basis, but even that won’t link choices for the direct election in constituencies to choices made on the party vote. So, subsequent speculation must be rooted in conversations I’ve had in the countryside and Ulaanbaatar during election observation as well as afterwards.

The DP

The success? Exactly a third of seats in the new parliament! Of these, 26 were won in majoritarian district elections and 16 were won via the nearly 440,000 votes the DP received in the party election. In the constituencies, the DP did particularly well in constituency 1 (Arkhangai, Ovorkhangai, Bayankhongor) winning 7 of 9 available seats. Among these is S Ganbaatar returning to parliament, this time for the DP. Another DP stronghold is constituency 7 (Govi-Sumber, Dornogovi, Dundgovi, Umnugovi) where the party won 5 of 7 seats. While the party capitalized on significant support in the city in the past, it only picked up 4 of  24 seats in the six Ulaanbaatar constituencies.

Of the people we had identified in our “notable candidates” listing prior to the election, the following won majoritarian seats:

  • N Altankhuyag (constituency 11)
  • Kh Battulga (4)
  • S Ganbaatar (1)
  • Ch Lodoisambuu (12)
  • L Munkhbayasgalan (7)

The most prominent candidate who was not elected from a district is perhaps frm party leader S Erdene (constituency 9).

Out of our notable candidates, the following were elected via the party list:

  • L Gantumur
  • E Odbayar
  • Kh Temuujin

Two women were elected directly: Munkhbayasgalan and Kh Bolormaa (40), while the 16 party list seats obviously lead to eight women so that ten of the 42 DP MPs are women a slightly lower percentage than parliament overall.

Run-Up to the Election

The DP has struggled with in-fighting for many years now. While it had been rife with factionalism even before the 2016 election, the resounding MPP victory in that election and the no-quite-widely-supported-nomination of Kh Battulga as a presidential candidate in 2017 only increased internal division that the party has been battling since then. Substantively adrift under the leadership of Pres Battulga, the party neither managed to continue a process of integration, nor was there even the beginning of a generational renewal under the leadership of such people as S Erdene.

There was a bit of turmoil around the announcement of the party candidate list and there were few people who expressed any kind of excitement about the list. This lack of excitement was also evident in the campaign event ostensibly focused on younger voters that I described.

A week into the campaign there was a death of a DP soum governor in Ovorkhangai. As far as could be ascertained this was a political event in the sense that the brawl that caused the death very unfortunately seemed to have erupted around the lack of attendance at a campaign event. The other party in the brawl was associated with the campaign of then-speaker of parliament G Zandanshatar. But both big parties were relatively restrained in reacting to this news and the DP did not explicitly try to frame this as a political attack. Marissa Smith had included this reaction in her impressions of on-line campaigning.

When we were driving across the countryside and visited campaign offices along our route, it was evident that the single pitch to potential voters was “It’s us vs them”, i.e. if you are frustrated with the MPP, vote for the DP. There was not a whole lot of nuance in that and substantive issues did not seem to be tied to that in any particular way.

By chance, we were in Murun to attend the final campaign rally for the DP with all eight candidates on the last day of campaigning. While a good number of party faithful turned up, this rally seemed neither particularly boisterous nor optimistic to me.


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There was a bit of visual excitement toward the end of the event.

At final campaign rally of the DP in Murun on June 26 (Khuvsgul, Bulgan, Orkhon constituency) a mini-airplane flew the DP flag and a crane hoisted the #Mongolia flag.

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— Mongolia Focus (@mongoliafocus.bsky.social) Jul 5, 2024 at 4:09 PM

From these campaign impressions and the various looks at campaign platforms that colleagues had prepared, I was not expecting a particularly strong showing of the DP despite the long pattern of Mongolian voters to prefer some kind of balance between the two major parties.


Clearly, I was wrong in my assessment that the DP had little to offer.

Instead, it appears that the DP continues to have a strong political “brand” of being the party opposed to the MPP that is most electable.

From my countryside impressions this was plausible in the sense that the other parties were simply not that visible in the country, including KhUN which obviously try to push into the most-electable-opposition slot. Visibility is partly effort, but it is also degree of organization. Since we did not travel through the Gobi aimags, I have to imagine that the degree of organization is what is behind the strong showing in the Khangai and Bayankhongor aimags. This strong showing may have also been helped by the incident I described above, but it is hard to imagine that that played a major role.


Coalition talks appear to be on-going in Ulaanbaatar. This is puzzling. I cannot see any strategic argument for the party to enter into a coalition other than the personal ambitions of some of the leadership, call it political greed, i.e. the desire to secure a post in cabinet. If a coalition does materialize I would expect the cabinet posts that go to the DP to closely reflect the new power structure in the party.

Presumably the weight of power in the party has shifted (back) to frm president Battulga and his faction, though post-election jockeying for positions in or outside of a coalition will tell us more about that. Battulga has not focused much attention on specific political issues in the past, even less on any kind of theme, so I would not expect a clear policy focus from the DP in the coming four years. Also, as president he frequently seemed to shoot from the populist hip on particular issues (mining, but also capital punishment stand out in my memory). In a coalition, I would expect no more than power politics from the DP, and in opposition, the party would likely be ineffectual in terms of initiating a long-needed generational renewal, but also a more specific policy focus. Despite the electoral success, my perspective on personnel and policy orientation of the DP thus remains somewhat negative.

As will be the case with the MPP, there is some chance, however, that some of the MPs who were elected off the party list may emerge as leaders, or at least as dedicated legislators.


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 @jdierkes@sciences.social.
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