Parliamentary Elections 2024: Yet Another New Election System

By Marissa J. Smith, Julian Dierkes, and Enkhtsetseg Dagva

As many observers have noted, Mongolian election systems have changed from election to election for the past 20 years. In this post, we detail the form of the June 2024 Parliamentary elections as currently discernable from measures by the Parliament and compare these to prior elections and associated structures of Parliament.

For this year’s election expected in late June, eligible voters will have two votes to elect a total of 126 members of the Ikh Khural: a vote in one of 13 electoral districts to directly elect 78 MPs (distributed unevenly across constituencies, see below), and a party vote to elect 48 MPs from party lists. The shift is thus an expansion of the total number of MPs as well as a return to a mixed majoritarian-proportional election system.

At the end of 2023, the Parliament also established a new structure of constituencies, a radical departure from previous systems, in which aimags have been combined into large territories (except for Bayan-Ulgii) with different numbers of mandates. This was not established in the constitution, but rather in a Parliamentary resolution, and appears to be designed to shift with each election to account for demographic changes across Mongolia and government regional development goals.

Legal Measure Date Description
Constitutional Amendment (21.1) May 31, 2023 Define the structure of Parliament as a single-chamber body with 126 members
Constitutional Amendment (21.1) May 31, 2023 Define elections for Parliament as mixed majoritarian-proportional, with 78 proportionally-elected members and 48 majoritarian-elected members
Parliamentary Resolution No. 112 December 21, 2023 Define the number and makeup (combination of aimags) of constituencies (тойрог)
Attachment to Parliamentary Resolution No. 112 No date Define the number of mandates (мандат per constituency тойрог)

Map of constituencies with number of mandates

Map of constituencies with number of mandates, General Election Commission, “Election Education,” No. 1, 2024, pg. 5.

Expansion to 126 seats and Return to Mixed Majoritarian-Proportional

An expansion of the number of seats in parliament has been under discussion for many years. On this blog, Julian wrote about some of the debates surrounding the double deel and the size of Parliament as early as 2015. Arguments for an expanded parliament have included the committee (over)load on 76 individual MPs and the number of MPs relative to the size of cabinet.

A decision for expansion was finally made in summer 2023. While different proposals for the precise extent of expansion had been floated for years, there does not appear to be a specific rationale for the number of 126, nor for the 48:78 split between proportional:majoritarian seats. In the end 126 appears to be a pragmatic compromise between the current number of 76 members and a doubling to 152 members.

This decision for expansion was coupled with an elevation of the electoral system as mixed majoritarian-proportional into the constitution. The determination of the number and form of constituencies and seats/mandates per constituencies, i.e. how to distribute the 78 directly-elected seats now mandated in the constitution, specifically for the 2024 election, was established in December 2023 in a parliamentary resolution and attachment to the resolution. According to state broadcaster MNB this structure was based on a count of voting-age citizens by administrative unit current as of November 30, 2023 provided by the General Authority of State Registration.

It remains interesting to observe that a party that has won landslides in the last two elections, the MPP, and has a strong power base in rural election districts that carry more weight per vote than urban districts, has perhaps chosen to open the possibility that a well-established but self-destructing main opposition party, the DP, and a still-upstart KhUN party gain more seats in Parliament.

To capitalize on this opportunity, the DP and KhUN would have to demonstrate abilities to campaign in the countryside that they have not had to in prior years. While in the new constituency structure, six constituencies are urban and seven are provincial, mandates will not be allocated evenly across these constituencies – almost 70% of the mandates will be outside of Ulaanbaatar (and “Ulaanbaatar” also includes outlying mining communities Nalaikh, Bagakhangai and Baganuur). Outside of a few select aimags – which have since also been commanded by the MPP – the MPP has always had significantly more presence in the countryside and been able to conduct more impactful campaign activities there; MPs such as Speaker Zandanshatar have already been visiting constituencies (not as official campaign events, of course, which are allowed only during the fourteen days prior to the election). Additionally, while the DP has recently appointed younger “Gen X and Y” members to leadership positions, the MPP is the only party that boasts a robust youth organization presenting candidates that win seats and produces young appointees to administer an expanding government apparatus. It is also notable that the Parliamentary Election Law now allows five times as many party and coalition employees to work nationwide and at the aimag/capital area level as it did previously (37.2).

Proportional Representation

48 seats in the new Parliament will be filled from countrywide party lists. To qualify for these seats, parties and coalitions must have candidates running in 50 percent or more of the total mandates per constituency (74.2.1). Single parties must obtain at least 4 percent of the vote, two-party coalitions at least 5 percent of the vote, and coalitions with three or more parties, at least 7 percent (74.2-74.4).

Majoritarian Districts

The Parliamentary resolution distributing the aimags and capital area among thirteen constituencies states that formula of thirteen constituencies with unequal distributions of mandates was done in line with plans for regional development (Para. 2). As this resolution only covers the 2024 election, and as the Mongolian state broadcaster also reported that data on the distribution of voters by administrative units also was taken into account, one presumes that the current idea is that the number of constituencies is intended to change with each election.

Votes in each of the constituencies will be tallied per candidate and mandates distributed to candidates with the most votes. Additional rounds of voting will be organized within a week in case of 1. ties or 2. a voter participation rate below fifty percent in the constituency (78).
Independent candidates are treated no differently from party/coalition candidates in terms of how their votes count for the majoritarian mandates/seats.

Women Candidates

As in past elections, new legislation for the 2024 elections includes measures towards increasing the number of female candidates. The “zipper system,” i.e. alternating female-male candidates on lists has been instituted (30.6 of the Parliamentary Elections Law). Additionally, 30% of candidates for a party must be women (or men) (30.2), and the law also stipulates that in 2028 this will increase to 40%.

Voter Education

General Election Commission has been successful in past elections to explain voters about changes in electoral systems. We expect that this effort will be resourced and receive a fair bit of attention again for this election. At this time the GEC website section addressed to voters (the “сонгогч танаа” tab here) contains only information about voter registration and residency. The GEC also released a new 60-page issue of “Election Education” announced on Facebook (link to post here) on March 1.

Election Timeline

The election has been scheduled for June 28th. The campaign season will be slightly shorter this year than it was in 2022, as the amount of time before the election that the General Election Committee will grant candidates their cards has been shortened from 22 days before the election to 22 days before the election.

The table below is a schedule of key election-related dates, based on the Law on Parliamentary Elections. The General Election Committee also has a more detailed schedule available here.

Expected Timing Timing As Defined In Legal Measure Description
March 1 March 1 Deadline for audit organization to set campaign finance limits (50.1)
End of March March 25 Deadline for parties to submit election platform (сонгуулийн мөрийн хөтөлбөр) (38.6)
Beginning of April First week of April Deadline for parties/coalitions/candidates to submit donation reports to state auditor (38.7)
End of April 60 days before election Deadline for parties to submit intention to participate (26.1)
Mid-May 45 to 38 days before election Parties nominate candidates (and self-nominees nominate selves) (29.1)
Mid-June 18 days before election (previously 22 days) GEC issues candidate card (and official status as candidate) (32.12)
Late-June From issuance of card to 24 hours before election day (previously this would have been slightly longer) Campaign period (39.1)
June 28 Election Day Election Day
This entry was posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Enkhtsetseg Dagva, Ikh Khural 2024, KhUN, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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