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Mongolia - Politics - President

Punsalmaagiyn OchirbatMN/SDP03 Sep 199020 Jun 1997
Natsagiyn BagabandiMPRP20 Jun 199724 Jun 2005
Nambaryn EnkhbayarMPRP24 Jun 200518 Jun 2009
Tsakhiagiyn ElbegdorjDP18 Jun 200918 Jun 2013 +

Freedom Houses 1999-2000 survey on political openness described Mongolia as the only post-communist country outside of Eastern Europe to receive a rating that entitled it to classification as a free polity. But the bulk of the current political leaders and senior bureaucrats are of a generation that was educated in the former Soviet Union and steeped in socialist doctrine, government by fiat, and central planning. On top of this, the social fabric of a small, inter-related populace abhors competition with its winners and losers and encourages a lowest-common denominator consensus approach to decision-making.

In June 1993, incumbent Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat won the first popular presidential election running as the candidate of the democratic opposition.

Like Eastern European countries, Mongolia has chosen the strong parliament and weak presidential system intended to prevent the resurgence of totalitarian or authoritarian governments that existed previously in those countries. In principle the presidency is less influential than the Prime Minister, though still a powerful position. Between September 1990 and June 2009, Mongolia had only three Presidents, two of whom were re-elected to a second term. During the same period, Monglia had a dozen Prime Ministers, two of whom were subesquently elected President. Despite the apparent weakness of the office, Mongolian politicians themselves clearly esteem the Presidency.

1993 Presidential Election

During the first Presidential Election held in 1993, eligible voters totaled 1,106,403, of whom 1,025,970 (one million, twenty-five thousand, nine hundred and seventy) voters, or 92.73 percent, of the total voters participated in the elections and elected the candidate nominated by the DP, P. Ochirbat as the President of Mongolia by casting 592,836 votes in his favor, accounting for 57.78 percent of the total votes. The candidate from the MPRP L. Tudev received votes from 397,061 (three hundred and ninety-seven thousand and sixty-one) voters, respresenting 38.70 percent of the total electorate.

1996 State Grand Khural Election

In 1996, a coalition of pro-democracy parties, the Democratic Union Coalition, had supplanted the former communists, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), winning 50 of the 76 seats at stake. The MPRP, which had ruled since 1921, had hoped to continue its domination of the Hural through the establishment of 76 single member, electoral districts in which a plurality could determine the winner. However, the MPRP was beaten by a coalition of democratic parties in June legislative elections. About 90 percent of eligible voters cast ballots; international observers judged the elections to be free and fair. The MPRP handed over power and stepped down, in the first transition of power between political parties in Mongolian history. In October 6 local elections, the MPRP succeeded in capturing 14 of 21 provincial assemblies.

1997 Presidential Election

P. Ochirbat from the DP, N. Bagabandi from the MPRP and J. Gombojav from the MTUP stood as candidates for the Presidential Office in the 2nd Presidential Elections in 1997. Some 982,640 voters were registered nationwide and voted in the elections with a participatory rate of 85.06 percent. The MPRP candidate became the President of Mongolia winning with votes from 597,573 voters, representing 60.81 percent of the total electorate, followed by the candidate from the DP P. Ochirbat who received 292,896 votes, or 29.81 percent, of the total votes, and the candidate from the MTUP J. Gombojav who received 65,201 votes, or 6,64 percent, of the total votes.

2000 State Grand Khural Election

More than 600 candidates representing 13 parties, three coalitions and independent platforms took part in the 02 July 2000 elections. Economic problems, especially slow economic growth, were the main focus in the electoral campaign. Despite an aggressive policy (reduction of the inflation, introduction of a five-day working week, abolition of State control of the country's media and a major privatisation scheme) conducted by the Democratic Union Coalition, trends in the previous four years seem to have worked against the coalition. After the 2000 elections, the new Parliament looks more or less the same as in 1992: the MPRP won 72 out of 76 seats.

2001 Presidential Election

In the Presidential Elections of 2001, the candidates N. Bagabandi from MPRP, R. Gonchigdorj from the DP and L. Dashnyam from the CWP competed for office, with some 1,205,885 voters being registered nationwide, of whom 1,000,110 voters, or 82.94 percent, voted in the elections. The MPRP candidate N. Bagabandi won with 581,381 votes, or 58.13 percent, of the total votes and was re-elected as President of Mongolia. The candidate from the DP, R. Gonchigdorj, received 365,363 votes, or 36.53 percent, of the total votes and the candidate from the CWP L. Dashnyam received 35,425 votes, or 3.54 percent, of the total votes.

2004 State Grand Khural Election

On 27 June 2004, general elections were held for all the 76 seats in the State Great Hural (Parliament). The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), Republican Party, Mongolian Green Party, Mongolian National Coalition Party, Mongolian Liberal Party, Mongolian Traditional United Party and Motherland Democratic Coalition (MDC) - formed by the Civil Will Republican Party, the Mongolian Democratic Party and the Mongolian New Democratic Socialist Party, - contested the elections, together with some independent candidates. The MPRP dominated the electoral campaign with an estimated 90 per cent of political advertising, saturating the airwaves and blanketing the capital, Ulan Bator, in campaign posters, while the MDC put on a very low-key campaign avoiding glitzy rallies, TV ads and street billboards. The opposition made a remarkable advance, obtaining 34 seats. The MPRP won 36 seats, independent candidates 3 and the Republican Party 1 seat.

2005 Presidential Election

In May 2005 the country elected the then Speaker Nambar Enkhbayar of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) as the new President. The formerly communist MPRP which had ruled the country since independence from China in 1921 had regained power in 2000 after four years of rule by the Motherland-Democracy Coalition (MDC). In the Presidential Elections of 2005, candidates from political parties with seats in the State Great Khural, including N. Enkhbayar from the MPRP, M. Enkhsaikhan from the DP, B. Erdenebat from the Mongolian Peoples New Socialist Party (Motherland Party) and U. Jargalsaikhan from the Republican Party, competed for votes. Eligible voters nationwide totaled 1,236,733, of whom 871,667 voters, or 70.48 percent, of the total electorate participated in the elections.

2008 State Grand Khural Election

The 29 June 2008 elections were the fifth to be held since the introduction of the multi-party system in 1990. The elections were contested by 12 political parties including the MPRP and the DP. Prior to the 2008 elections the MPRP government was dogged by allegations of official corruption and misconduct. In May Mr. Gndalai left the PP and re-joined the DP and most PP members ran under the DP banner. With more than 10 per cent of Mongolia's 2.7 million inhabitants living on less than one US dollar per day according to figures from the United Nations modernizing the country's agriculture-based economy has been a top priority. Prime Minister Bayar's MPRP promised greater prosperity through 10 per cent economic growth and boosting GDP per capita to US$5 000 by 2012 (from US$2 900 in 2007). The MPRP also promised to improve the welfare system and provide subsidies to families single mothers and the poor.

2009 Presidential Election

In the 24 May 2009 presidential election incumbent President N. Enkhbayar was the MPRP nominee and Ts. Elbegdorj was the DP candidate. The Green Party and the Civil Will Party opted to forego fielding their own candidates and formally agreed to support the DP. The consensus view among analysts was that the MPRP's Enkhbayar would win in a close election with high turn-out. However, the DP was optimistic and eager to avenge the hotly disputed parliamentary elections of last summer.

On 24 May 2009 former Prime Minister and Democratic Party legislator Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj was elected as President of Mongolia in free and fair elections. Elbegdorj defeated Nambaryn Enkhbayar in this first instance in Mongolia of an incumbent losing a presidential election. The loss was not followed by accusations of fraud or bad faith, but rather by a peaceful transfer of power characterized by the timely and gracious concession of President Enkhbayar. This was also the first election as president of a Democratic Party candidate. The outcome of the May 24 presidential election was a major step in the burnishing of Mongolia's democratic credentials.

2012 State Grand Khural Election

The ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party split in November 2010 after it changed its name to the Mongolian People's Party and stated that it would become a centre-left social democratic party. In elections 28 June 2012, the opposition Democratic Party (DP) became the largest party in parliament, taking 35 of the 76 seats at stake. The use of mining revenue to create jobs and narrowing the gap between rich and poor were the main campaign issues. The DP formed a coalition government with the "Justice Coalition", comprising the new Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and the Mongolian National Democratic Party, and Civil Will Republican Party (CWRP) - Green Party.

2013 Presidential Election

Mongolians headed to the polls June 26, 2013 to elect a new president, with all three candidates promising to use the country's massive mineral wealth to help its still poor population. President Elbegdorj Tsakhia of the ruling Democratic Party was expected to win a second four-year term. The Harvard-educated leader campaigned on promises of fighting corruption and using foreign cash to drive development. Elbegdorj's main rival was former wrestling champion. Baterdene Badmaanyambuu. The opposition Mongolian People's Party lawmaker promised to protect the environment and uphold national unity. A third candidate, Health Minister Natsag Udval, was the first woman to seek Mongolia's top office. She belonged to the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and supported ex-President Enkhbayar Nambar, who was jailed on corruption charges.

Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia won a second term, in an election dominated by a debate over the country's vast mining wealth. Preliminary results showed President Elbegdorj took 50.2 percent of the previous day's vote, narrowly clearing the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off. His main challenger, opposition lawmaker and former pro-wrestler Baterdene Badmaanyambuu, received nearly 42 percent. The country's first female presidential candidate, Health Minister Natsag Udval, came in a distant third place. There were no reports of widespread irregularities in the election, unlike in past votes. Accusations of fraud dogged the 2008 parliamentary elections, which resulted in deadly riots.

Mongolia boasted one of the world's fastest growing economies, thanks to a jump in revenue from its still largely untapped reserves of gold, copper and iron. Its economy grew by 17 percent in 2011 and 12 percent in 2012. But many Mongolians complained they had not benefited from the newfound wealth. There were also concerns over environmental damage to rural areas as a result of the mining boom. All three candidates said they supported a fairer distribution of that wealth to the country's 2.8 million people, a third of whom lived below the poverty line.

2016 State Grand Khural Election

The Mongolian People's Party (MPP) swept back to power in a landslide election result 29 June 2016. The Mongolian People's Party (MPP ) has governed the country for 18 of the 26 years s ince Mongolia's democratic revolution in 1990 . The MPP regained power in 2016 after four years in opposition. Campaigning was dominated by concern over slowing economic growth amid a drop in commodity prices. The opposition MPP party won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections in the landlocked nation where a fall in commodity prices has sent the economy into a sharp decline. The head of the national election commission said that the MPP won 65 out of 76 seats in the national legislature, formally known as the State Grand Khural.

An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) election observer mission assessed voting positively, although the secrecy of the vote was not always ensured. The missions concluded that the elections were characterized by competitive campaigns conducted in an environment that respected fundamental freedoms, although restrictive media-related provisions limited information available to voters. The OSCE noted that the May 2016 change from a mixed electoral system to a solely majoritarian one resulted in profound population differences among constituencies in the parliamentary elections, which is inconsistent with the principle of equality of the vote. The OSCE further noted that the elimination of out-of-country voting prior to the parliamentary elections effectively disenfranchised 150,000 citizens living abroad.

2017 Presidential Election

On 26 June 2017 voters in Mongolia's cities, townships and prairies chose a new president amid worries about corruption and economic turmoil. Most voters expected a two-horse race between the ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) candidate Miyeegombo Enkhbold, the former mayor of capital Ulaanbaatar, and former martial arts star and property tycoon Khaltmaa Battulga of the outgoing president's opposition Democratic Party. The election has been viewed as a bellwether for popular support for Enkhbold's MPP, which swept up 65 seats in the 76-seat unicameral parliament in last year's parliamentary elections.

But Sainkhuu Ganbaatar of the breakaway Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) could win enough votes to trigger the country's first-ever runoff. Ganbaatar, who ran a feng shui practice for years, is expected to take votes from the main two candidates. Some previously been loyal to the MPP's Enkhbold decided to support Battulga of the Democratic Party after a recording surfaced in which Enkhbold and other MPP officials were allegedly discussing a plan to hand public jobs to the highest bidders.

All three candidates promised to pull Mongolia out of financial crisis, restore its stagnant economy to its former "boom" status, and reassess ties with neighbors, including China, which purchases 80 percent of its exports. The electoral process has been marked by a notably divisive campaign involving corruption scandals and debate on the country's sluggish economy following a $5.5 billion bailout led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Despite once being one of Asia's fastest growing economies, the landlocked country has witnessed a foreign investment nosedive. In May, the Mongolian government managed to negotiate the bailout after implementing a series of unpopular austerity measures.

None of the candidates attained the necessary majority in voting 26 June 2017. Democratic Party candidate and former wrestler Khaltmaa Battulga finished, with 38 percent of the vote, and would face the Mongolian People's Party's Miyegombo Enkhbold in the July 9 election. Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party candidate Sainkhuu Ganbaatar was eliminated by the narrowest of margins 30.19 percent to Enkhbold's 30.3 percent prompting some complaints about possible vote tampering.

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