by Amar Adiya
The Mongolian People's Party (MPP) lawmakers, which holds super-majority in the parliament, reversed their proposal to have the mixed proportional electoral system (50:26) and passed a new law on Dec 22 with multi-seat constituencies (i.e. 2-4 seats per Aimag and Duureg) six months ahead of the general election in June.
This last minute U-turn appears to be to avoid any complication with the constitutional article, which requires direct election of a candidate and not a political party to the parliament. Mongolian constitutional court ruled in 2016 that the proportional system, which was used during the 2012 election, was unconstitutional.
Another reason MPP chose plurality-at-large-system may have been related to the fact that it was used in 1992 and 2008 elections, which resulted in the MPP majority win. Opposition lawmakers complained that this system would favour more wealthy candidates because a single candidate needs now to reach 2-3 times larger number of voters (e.g. ~70,000 voters within a 3-week campaign period).
The latest polls showed a decrease in the significance of a single party (namely MPP) and there's increased rumour that political parties may favour entering the race in electoral alliances to gain a majority support.
Other changes in the election law focused on regulating online campaign and comments by voters. The electoral commission said that they would take only actions on fake accounts and fake news in collaboration with Facebook and Twitter. They also said they would require all political parties and candidates to register their Facebook pages for campaign purposes.
Women MPs tried to raise gender quota for nominations from 20% to 30% but they failed suggesting Mongolia is yet to get more women into decision-making. Currently, they make 17% (13 seats) in the parliament, which is the record large number since democratic elections in 1990 but still low compared to other democracies.
The provision regarding banning candidates who have been charged with corruption and abuse of power generated a heated debate. Nevertheless, it was approved last minute. Ex-President Enkhbayar (convicted of corruption in 2012 and since then barred from running) complained that his constitutional rights to be elected has been denied again.
Following passing of the new election rules former president Elbegdorj shared his views on on Twitter: "We've been through it all - voting in large constituencies and mandates. This is not an election. They are pushing a bundle. Zero chance for the youth and women. No other choice because it's a bundle. Buy or drop. Democratic election is an opportunity to chose. [This is] against the right to vote and be elected."
Amar is a public policy advisor with international experience working with the key policy makers, senior executives and opinion leaders across Asia and North America.
He is also a senior advisor on Mongolia with BowerGroupAsia.
Amar writes and edits Mongolia Weekly and manages the activities of the Canada Mongolia Chamber of Commerce.
He started his career as a diplomat representing Mongolian and small developing states' interests at the United Nations in New York.
Amar obtained his double master degrees in public policy and diplomacy from the Australian National University and a bachelor in international politics from the National University of Mongolia.