Mongolia’s recent passage of a new election law has stoked worries about potential foreign meddling and manipulation of voters through online platforms, reported the Udriin Sonin daily newspaper.
The law lacks a provision barring foreign media and agents from campaign involvement, raising alarms.
Suspicions exist globally about voter manipulation via online tools, like in the U.S., U.K., Cameroon and Kenya. Claims have emerged in Mongolia too, of foreign troll armies swaying elections via social media.
While the Udriin Sonin paper implies Russia actively meddles in Mongolia’s elections, concrete evidence is scarce. It is known Russia interfered in the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections to aid Donald Trump and undercut Joe Biden, respectively.
However, no proof shows Russia employed similar tactics in Mongolia.
With its proximity, China could substantially influence Mongolian voters if it chose to.
China has openly financed parties, candidates and institutions in Asia. Yet no solid evidence backs allegations of Chinese interference in Mongolia’s elections or voter manipulation.
Russia may have the ability to influence election outcomes through online misinformation campaigns, but it is unlikely to target Mongolia in 2024. Elections in other countries, such as the United States, France, Germany, India, and Japan, would have much higher stakes for Russia in that year.
For Russia and China, maintaining political influence in Mongolia through favorable policies is the priority, not directly determining election winners. Both seek to cultivate pro-Russia and pro-China Mongolian elites while muting criticism of their global actions.
However, top Mongolian politicians, including Prime Minister Luvsannamrsain Oyun-Erdene with Ivy League degrees, have Western leanings. With lower geoeconomic importance than somewhere like Ukraine, Mongolia may be less susceptible to foreign meddling.
On May 31, 2023, Mongolia’s parliament approved a constitutional amendment that increased the number of seats from 76 to 126 and changed the electoral system.
The amendment, proposed by the ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), aims to create a more representative and diverse parliament that reflects the country’s population and interests. According to the new system, 48 seats (38%) will be allocated to parties based on the proportion of votes they receive, while the remaining 78 seats (62%) will be elected through the traditional first-past-the-post method in each district.
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