CHOOSING A CHIEF EXECUTIVE IN MONGOLIA




As the new amendments in the constitution took effect last week relationships between lawmakers, prime minister and the president are expected to significantly change impacting the country's politics, governance and key decision-making process in the coming years in Mongolia. The new changes would pave the way for the new Mongolian Prime Minister (or Khurelsukh if he wins majority) to have full (almost) power to hire and fire his cabinet ministers. The executive power would be boosted by restricting the interference of parliament and president to appoint and dismiss cabinet ministers. Previously, the constitution allowed Mongolian parliamentarians to hold cabinet posts at the same time and it has long been criticized as the key weakness of the executive power leading to government instability and frequent changes of prime ministers. With powerful parliamentarians in the cabinet, the prime minister has been viewed only “first among equals” within the executive branch, chairing cabinet discussions and having some power to set the government’s agenda.  With the new rule, the Prime Minister is expected to act as a chief executive while presidential influence would be limited. By the new constitution, presidential two-term is now reduced to single-term 6 years and he or she will have less say in the appointment of judges and anti-corruption head, which are regarded to be most politicized. The cohabitation of Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga (Democratic Party) and Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh (Mongolian People's Party) has played well so far. Khurelsukh got along with Battulga from the start and prevented any major stalemate, despite the two leaders representing different parties. If Khurelsukh wins in June his collaboration with the president might end as Battulga will seek his re-election (it still remains debatable whether he's eligible to re-run with the new constitution). With the rising popularity of Khurelsukh Battulga will likely view him as a key challenger next year leading towards friction between the two. If DP wins and assuming Battulga is re-elected next year Erdene-Battulga may result in faster key decision making. It could also create a similar political condition which was maintained by Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and Chimediin Saikhanbileg collaboration between 2014-2016, which resulted in the Oyu Tolgoi deal with Rio Tinto and Erdenet Mine's 49% transaction. In the case of a hung parliament, key decisions will likely be delayed while coalition politicking consuming most of time and energy. The new PM will probably have to rely much on the president to govern effectively in spite of strengthened powers provided by the new constitution. Sign up to Mongolia Weekly, which offers a weekly coverage, top commentaries and deep insights into Mongolian politics, upcoming 2020 elections, policy changes and trends.




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