Mongolia’s New PM-In-Waiting: Who Is Amarbayasgalan?
New Cabinet Chief Dashzegviin Amarbayasgalan is increasingly emerging to be a likely successor to Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene in the future, i.e., post-2024 election. As new ministers are settling into their roles following the August cabinet reshuffle, Amarbayasgalan has been seen practically everywhere speaking and weighing in on pressing issues. He also made clear that No.2 in the Cabinet is him, not Deputy PM Amarsaikhan.
Many people were surprised by Amarbayasgalan's nomination to Oyun-Erdene’s Cabinet 2.0. President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh is said to have pushed Amarbayasgalan into the government after the latter skipped to join the administration following his party's landslide wins in 2016 and 2020.
According to the Mongolian People's Party's (MPP) leadership transition plan, Amarbayasgalan appears now to be a top choice to succeed Oyun-Erdene in post-2024 if the party wins the election.
The rumor suggests Oyun-Erdene's next career step is anticipated to be that of a parliament speaker, which is considered the second highest post in Mongolia's political hierarchy, with the top job being that of a president though constitutional reforms can change that order.
So, who is Dashzegviin Amarbayasgalan? Amarbayasgalan, 41, was born and raised in Govi Altai province (western Mongolia) and began his career in the early 2000s with his elder brother's printing business. He studied political science and was educated as a telecommunications engineer. In the late 2000s, Amarbayasgalan entered politics, winning local elections in Ulaanbaatar. He rose to prominence as the campaign manager for the MPP in the 2016 general election with Khurelsukh’s backing.
Amarbayasgalan's ideas are completely aligned with the MPP's key message, as well as Oyun-New Erdene's Revival Policy and Vision-2050. Both Amarbayasgalan and Oyun-Erdene aided Khurelsukh when the latter was managing the party in 2008-2012 as a secretary general.
Amarbayasgalan may favor China in international policy because of his past position as party secretary general and close contacts with the Chinese Communist Party during the MPP’s centennial anniversary. But he’s unlikely to depart from the current foreign policy direction.
Amarbayasgalan has a far more convincing and elegant speaking style than Oyun-Erdene. His words are more powerful, and his messages are more focused. But he has also avoided media and public appearances.
Many people praise him for his ability to broker an agreement between powerful factions inside the MPP. He also cultivated an image of being not only competent but also affable and reasonable in dealing with wide-ranging politicians. One of his accomplishments as an MPP secretary general is regarded to be reinforcing the party to social democratic principles and conceptualizing those in the new party chapter.
Earlier this year, he also received broad support from other political parties for new constitutional reforms, particularly the reintroduction of the proportional electoral system and expansion of parliament size.
As Khurelsukh and Oyun-Erdene, Amarbayasglan strongly believes in a parliamentary system, which helps improve governance, ensures regulatory stability and promotes more accountability, transparency and participation of the wider population in major economic decision-making.
Amarbayasgalan represents a rising millennial wave of politicians, including PM Oyun-Erdene, Justice Minister Khishgeegiin Nyambaatar, PM’s senior advisor Ayushiin Ariunzaya (former labor minister), Digital Development Minister Nyam-Osoryn Uchral and the new governor of Khovd Enkhbatyn Bolormaa.
Younger leaders are expected to wield more real political power by 2024 as they represent Mongolia’s largest demographic. The number of people aged under 35 takes up more than 60 percent of the total population.
About Amar Adiya:
Amar Adiya is Editor-in-Chief of Mongolia Weekly, an English newsletter on political analysis and business intelligence every week. He is also a regional director at Washington-based strategic advisory firm BowerGroupAsia.