Topical Issue

No referendum, but national consultation on Constitutional Amendments

The State Ikh Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia on 29-30 April brought together 669 randomly selected citizens from across the country to Ulaanbaatar for the first-ever national deliberative poll on the future of the country’s Constitution, which was adopted in 1992 and once amended in 2000.

The compiled report of the first deliberative polling by the National Statistics Office

During the two-day event, the 669 participants in the polling discussed and exchange opinions on critical issues ranging from the powers of the President and ensuring the independence of the civil society, to the pressures of urbanization and the frequency of elections.
The poll came two months after the Government of Mongolia passed a law requiring that an immersive research method that analyzes public opinion developed by Stanford’s James Fishkin be conducted before the Constitution could be amended.

Plenary sessions provided an opportunity for the participants in the deliberative polling to hear the arguments in support of and against each of the six key issues from experts

The deliberative polling in April marked the first time that a country has incorporated the process into its law.
Deliberative polling was pioneered over 30 years ago by the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University, and it was first conducted at the Ulaanbaatar city level in 2015 with support from The Asia Foundation and Stanford University. Both Stanford and the Foundation provided capacity building and advisory support for this first national event.
Deliberative polling in Mongolia has been the product of a cooperation between Gombojav Zandanshatar, an MP and a former Mongolian Foreign Minister and James S. Fishkin, director of Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy when the former was visiting scholar at Standford.
“During my whole political career, I have been seeking to establish a just and fair constitutional democratic government in Mongolia,” Zandanshatar said. “I believe in the Mongolian people and I hope deliberative polling will give the opportunity to achieve true civic participation.”

    The two-day deliberations by the randomly picked citizens were consolidated and complied into a report by the National Statistics Office and the eight-member Consultative Council, which was established for the purpose, have submitted the results of the deliberative poll to the Parliament.
G. Zandanshatar, MP and member of the Consultative Council on 25 May announced that the referendum, which was planned to be carried out simultaneously with the Presidential election on 26 June, will now not be held.
He said: “This decision does not mean that the question of organizing a referendum is being closed. In order to further streamline the work on Constitutional amendment, public consultations are being planned to be carried out starting 5 June this year, which will continue until 1 August.”
He pointed out at the Consultative Council, tasked with the responsibility of organizing the deliberative polling and the referendum, has already submitted a draft bill to the State Ikh Khural on how to organize the public consultations.

Citizens in the deliberative poll were organized into 49 small groups of (15 people each), like this one in the photo, to deliberate on each issue.

It is not decided that the proposals and suggestions made in the course of the national consultations would be consolidated and analyzed and submitted for consideration to the State Ikh Khural in September this year.

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