Speculation about Post-Election Scenarios

By Julian Dierkes

Of course, there is lots of speculation about what election results next week might mean for the next four years.


Long-time Mongolia watchers have heard this story before: rampant speculation around Ulaanbaatar that regardless of a probable-seeming MPP victory, the MPP might reach out to the DP or KhUN to form a “unity government” of some kind.

Why would the MPP govern in a coalition if it ends up with an absolute majority? That question obviously becomes a very different question if the MPP does not win a majority, but here I will focus on a scenario where it does hold a majority.

To some extent, this may link to the challenges that the MPP has experienced in governing with a supermajority. These are primarily two-fold: maintenance of party discipline in parliament, and the lack of an opposition to foist some blame off on for policy gone awry.

A coalition would address the party discipline issue only partly, but some of that will depend in the new Ikh Khural on the role that MPs who have been elected via the party list will play. But the shared responsibility and thus shared accountability may make a coalition government attractive to the MPP. The public presentation would focus on some kind of argument that big changes need to be made (whatever those may be) and that a coalition of political forces and the implied near-consensus around those changes, are needed. As a German, this sounds familiar to the arguments that had been made for the Grand Coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, though the number of “big projects” that coalition took on was actually quite limited. But, this coalition argument is likely to resonate with many Mongolians who expect pragmatic and single-best solutions to political challenges rather than a competition of values approaches.

The precedent for all of this is the coalition government following the 2008 parliamentary election where the then-MPRP secured a majority of seats, but formed a coalition with the DP. That coalition was primarily aimed at concluding the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement which was signed in 2009. Note that while Mongolia is facing a number of policy challenges, there currently is no single issue that is demanding a decision the way that the OT IA was 15 years ago, though perhaps one might wish that aspects of a climate change response, particularly the reliance on coal might be recognized as such an issue.


Why would the DP want to enter into a coalition with the DP? First of all, there are few real ideological/policy differences between the two parties. Occasionally, the MPP veers slightly more toward state involvement in the economy and the DP has a slightly more liberal economic bent. Similarly, there are more Russophiles in the MPP than the DP, but these differences are not large, so there is no ideological gulf between the two parties.

Secondly, Mongolian politics is very much focused on winning executive power of some sort (on balance, more than bringing about change). A coalition would allow the DP to negotiate some appointments for its leadership, something they have been locked out of since the 2016 election.

Finally, the DP continues to be in disarray. It does appear that frm president Kh Battulga has reasserted some of his hold over the party, note his own candidacy in the Bulgan-Erdenet-Khuvsgul constituency. He does not have a discernible political agenda other than the quests for power and immunity and has previously been rumoured to be in various conversations and alliances with MPP leaders, making this scenario somewhat plausible.


Among the many conspiracy theories and rumours that always circulate, the insinuation that KhUN leader Dorjkhand has somehow been collaborating with the MPP has been persistent recently. KhUN’s claim of having initiated a fairer and more inclusive election system with proportional representation obviously depended on the MPP championing this change as well, given its supermajority.

After the election, KhUN may well be open to offers of a coalition to fulfill their aspiration to participate in government. The trajectory that KhUN has taken since its “arrival” as a possible third party would point toward such a decision as well. Whereas I had initially hoped that a new party might champion a change of political culture, including a more substantive, perhaps even more ideological debate and competition between parties, KhUN has seemed focused more on winning seats than on changing politics, other than emphasizing their own outsider status would bring an obvious change. For a number of its leaders, the offer of ministerial appointments, should that come with coalition discussions, may be too tempting and they might argue that this would give them access to some levers to implement their change agenda.


There is little sense in speculating about the make-up of any cabinet post-election cabinet as cabinet appointments have always been somewhat mysterious and linked more closely to party factions than any particular interests in portfolios from potential ministers or a balance of regional and gender representation (a principle that is important in Canadian cabinets, for example).

Some portfolios may change and that would seem especially likely if any coalition came about.

Cabinet appointments may also represent linkages between individuals and the MPP leaders who seem most powerful at the moment, Pres Khurelsukh, PM Oyun-Erdene, General Secretary Amarbayasglant, and MP Uchral.

The only appointment that seems likely even if only temporarily after the election is FM Batstsetseg, regardless of the outcome of her election campaign, as she would be hosting the World Women’s Forum some time in August 2024.


There is also a lot of talk about Pres Khurelsukh trying to engineer a constitutional change in the next three years that would make the President elected by parliament and would effectively allow him to run for a second term. I am not sure what to make of this especially as I am obviously not privy to any agreements that may be being made between Mongolian politicians. I do not find the talk of such a plan surprising. Somewhat like former pres Battulga, Khurelsukh does not appear to be driven by political ideas. Yes, the 1 Billion Trees campaign is a big project, but it is not a political project of change/reform or a (new) direction for Mongolia. Pres Khurelsukh thus does seem interested in staying in office for the sake of being in office. However, we have heard many similar rumours of engineered continuity (“doing a Putin”) in the past regarding other politicians which makes me skeptical on the likelihood of this scenario coming about. Yes, Khurelsukh might see himself as a “strong man” and might appeal to voters and the public in that way with some resonance, but power remains highly fragmented among political and business leaders, so it seems somewhat unlikely that enough power centres would agree to such a continuation of a Khurelsukh presidency or the constitutional change that would be required.

Foreign Agents Law

Unfortunately, there does seem a widespread expectation that the MPP will introduce some kind of “foreign agents” law after the election. This may be called something else to make it less obvious that it might be a close copy of the Russian law that has been enacted across Central Asia and has led to such civil society mobilization in Georgia, for example. It remains entirely unclear to me why anyone in democratic Mongolia would want such a law, the allegation of foreign interference would primarily apply to the origins of his law, i.e. Russia, and perhaps China, but there does seem to be a sense in Ulaanbaatar that the conflict around the introduction of such a law is likely to reappear in the first year after the election.

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

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