A review of politics in Mongolia
By B. ERDENEDALAI, Ph.D. in Political Science, Head of Humanities Department, University of Finance and Economy
The Democratic Party (DP), since its defeat in the 2012 Parliamentary elections, which they suffered owing to the discord and dissension of the factions, the reluctance to support each other when taking decisions as well as the decline in economic showings, set up a working panel to oversee the party’s reform. The panel has done a number of work.
The reform-effort included the amendment of the Party rules at the party Congress held last year, the nomination of candidates for the post of the Party Chairperson by all members of DP, and the run-off between these candidates, after which the party boss was elected. And today, two candidates vying for the post of Chairman of the Democratic Youth Union – S. Erdenebold and B. Bolor-Erdene are on a campaign trail around the country meeting and talking to their counterparts in all the 21 aimgs of the country and 9 districts of Ulaanbaatar. A so-called policy debate was also held among the two nominees. All these were novelties in terms of political culture.
It is, however, important that the run-off should be fair and honest without any attempt to woo voters by promising cash and office, and without spreading misinformation.
The basis of democracy lies in the exercise of the fundamental principles of election, while debate, which is an introduction to the candidate’s election platform, helps nurture political culture and helps voters decide on their choice, which is also a kind of “policy competition.”
In future, what Mongolia’s political culture will require is the organization of a run-off between the candidates vying for the chairmanship of a political party, and ensuring they go through a debate and not a pre-scripted “debate.”
The much-anticipated 28th Congress of the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) was held, which untied many a knots and furnished answers to numerous guesses. The objective of this Congress was to define anew the socio-economic policies for the country by MPP, elect new party chairman and leaders, mending and putting an end to the so-called 32:33 crack-up in the Parliamentary party caucus in order to consolidate the promises made by the party that guaranteed it 65 seats in the 76-seat State Ikh Khural.
There were four candidates who through mas medic channels had publicly announced their intention to run for the MPP chairmanship. They include the incumbent Prime Minister U. Khürelsükh, MP and Chair of the MPP Parliamentary Caucus D. Khayankhirvaa, MPP Conference Member N. Demberel and MPP member G. Maitsetseg. But when the Congress came two of the four candidates withdrew their names leaving the PM and the MP – Khürelsükh and Khayankhirvaa to contest. The incumbent PM received more than 63 percent of the votes of the Congress delegates and became the Chairman of the Party, as is customary the rule when the leader of a party that has won in the general elections becomes the country’s prime minister and which is one of the key features of a parliamentary republic. This also helps ensure that the Government policy and actions are constructive, the process of budget approval is transparent and fair, and such a budget is approved that is not amended and changed from time to time which, in a way, determines the framework of financial action of the government. In this respect, the leader of a ruling party becoming the chief of the executive branch of the government is an important development.
In some countries Parliamentarians cannot concurrently take up Cabinet ministerial portfolio. Some researchers believe that this helps bolster the government with capable civil servants, and the Government gets the opportunity to monitor the parliament. But in Mongolia, so-called “double del” or an MP taking up ministerial portfolio, is taken for granted. The so-called “Professional Government” under former Prime Minister J. Erdenebat, which was formed as a result of MPP’s overwhelming victory in the Parliamentary election, was “deposed” after 13 months in office and there was expectation in the society that the new Prime Minister Khürelsükh would form a Cabinet whose members would not have the “double del.” The contrary happened. All the 15 Cabinet members are Members of Parliament, apparently PM Khürelsükh believes that his Cabinet, with only MPs, would be more stable.
PM Khürelsükh and his Cabinet have daunting challenges in 2018: loans for international bonds will have to be repaid as per the schedule; the IMF demands will have to be implemented officially; the demands of civil servants, particularly teachers, medical and art workers for a salary hike, will have to be addressed; and, this winter is expected to be exceptionally cold and harsh.
Elected Governments, during their four years in office, are supposed to implement and carry through the Government action plans, but since 1990 most of the government had been in office for a maximum of 16 to 17 months only, which clearly bears evidence to the crisis in the legitimacy of the government in Mongolia. Owing to this governance legitimacy crisis the country does not have an integrated development policy and a make-belief democracy is taking shape when the Government’s performance is miles apart from its action plan on paper.
What’s happening in real life is that governance mechanisms are being further streamlined that only withhold the country’s progress and development, which do not have any meaningful impact on the life of the people, because through such mechanism the economy, formed from a limited income from the mining only and not industrial production, is being divided like a cake not for the good of the people but for selfish interest and lust for power.
A research carried out by an NGO “Social-Political Education” reveals that the knowledge and education of the general people in politics are totally unsatisfactory, and their trust and faith in political parties and the state are diminishing.
Proceeding from this premise, the question of accountability should be given top priority. Therefore, first, it is important for political parties to implement the decisions and recommendations from scientific and other conferences organized in collaboration with scientists and researchers. Second, it is important to develop a text book on democracy and politics for primary school children, and organize campaigns to improve the political knowledge and education of the people. Third, it is vital to create a legal environment which would help build up civil society organization’s capacity to monitor the actions of parties and the state. And finally, political parties that have been irresponsible towards state actions and have been implicated in high-level bribery and corruption, should be made accountable up to the point of their dissolution.