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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 200910 Jul 2017
Battulga KhaltmaaDP19 Jul 201725 Jun 2021
Ukhnaa KhurelsukhMPP25 Jun 202125 Jun 2027

Mongolia has made significant progress since 1992: These years have seen the withdrawal of 100,000 Soviet troops, the beginnings of a multi-party political system, and the advent of a market economy. Although the formerly communist Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) held the overwhelming majority of power in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal, opposition parties have since coalesced into the Democratic Party (DP), which has at times won a majority in parliament and selected a prime minister. The MPRP chose to form a coalition government with the DP in recognition of the need to work together to face the global economic downturn and the crash in copper prices that significantly diminished government revenue.

Freedom House’s 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.

The General Election Commission's (GEC) documentation of political contributions for the 2008 parliamentary election offers insight into the commercial sector and the types of individuals who support each political party. The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) appears to draw a large proportion of funding from undocumented and consequently illegal sources. The Democratic Party (DP) appears transparent in comparison, and draws from a much broader base comprised largely of individuals. The distinct absence of mining interests in the public contribution records suggests that this sector is providing funds to politicians in secret, and primarily to the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP).

Although a descendent of the pre-1990 Communist Party, the MPRP,s policies differ little from those of the more recently emerged DP. Furthermore, with both parties taking part in a coalition/unity government in Parliament, it is often unclear where the fissure lies between them. One way to distinguish the parties is to examine their respective funding sources.

The political environment was marked in recent years by highly publicized allegations of corruption involving high-ranking government officials. In September 2017, the prime minister was dismissed by the parliament over allegations of misuse of office. In November 2018, an unsuccessful noconfidence vote was initiated against the successive prime minister by members of his own ruling party, following corruption allegations related to the illegal use of government funds by state officials. The speaker of parliament was expelled by the parliament in January 2019 after his implication in corruption scandals.

In 2019, the parliament also adopted a controversial law, proposed by the president, which authorized the National Security Council and the Judicial General Council to recommend the dismissal of judges and prosecutors, as well as the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency, and to forcibly recuse judges from particular cases. Several interlocutors raised significant concerns related to the impact of this law on the separation of executive and judicial powers.

Parliamentary election campaigns may be financed from individual donations or from party or candidate assets. All transactions should be made through a designated bank account that is registered with the SAO; cash donations are not permitted. Since the previous parliamentary elections, limits on donations have been increased to MNT 5 million for individuals (from MNT 3 million) and MNT 20 million for legal entities (from MNT 15 million). Donors must demonstrate source of income and may not have outstanding debts or overdue taxes. Donations from foreign persons or entities are prohibited. In-kind contributions are permitted but, under a new regulation, the reported value must align with the market price.

The frequency of donations from food and beverage retailers, according to some observers, arises from the common impulse to avoid fines for selling liquor in the midst of periodic prohibitions. Similarly many politicians are engaged in corporations which sell and distribute liquor. Ten of the entities contributing to the MPRP sell alcohol products at bars, snooker parlors, night clubs, or stores. As widespread alcohol abuse is blamed for violence, traffic accidents and other social ills, authorities forbid its sale after midnight as well as on certain days. The law also bans advertisements for alcoholic products. Nonetheless, as this is one of the most profitable trades, alcohol distributors are known to bribe police officials in return for impunity.

On 28 February 2020, in consultation with the GEC, the SAO established increased expenditure limits for these elections, at MNT 5.9 billion for political parties and coalitions (MNT 4.4 billion in 2016) and from MNT 360 to 775 million for individual candidates (compared to MNT 174 to 378 million in 2016), depending on the size and projected costs of the electoral constituency. ODIHR NAM interlocutors noted that high campaign costs, including for media and print advertising, can be inhibitive to candidates with less access to capital, which may disproportionately impact women’s participation.

The media landscape is diverse but politically polarized. The public Mongolian Radio and Television (MNB) includes 2 television and 3 radio stations; private broadcasters include some 50 television and 25 radio stations broadcasting in Ulaanbaatar and over 60 television and 36 radio stations available locally throughout the country. Several interlocutors indicated that private media are generally affiliated with a political interest, and opined that the public broadcaster lacks independence from the ruling party.

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Page last modified: 19-07-2021 18:26:15 ZULU