• Amar Adiya

How Mongolia's Democracy Can Change: Welcome to Battulga's Rule in 2020s


President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga.
President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga.

Following a change in presidential terms under the modified constitution, lawmakers are considering new rules for presidential elections. According to the new constitution, the President shall now serve a single six-year term.


According to State Affairs Committee Chair Byambatsogt, President Battulga has the option of running for re-election in the 2021 presidential elections. This amendment was originally scheduled to take effect in 2025, but it was scrapped during the parliamentary debate last year.


This means that if President Battulga is re-nominated by the Democratic Party (DP) and re-elected in 2021, he will be able to serve another six years until 2027. Battulga's ascension could have a far more significant impact on Mongolian politics in the 2020s, overturning democratic and liberal changes implemented by President Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Bayar in the 2010s.


President Battulga indicated his support for strengthening his personal power at the expense of legislative governance during the 2019 constitutional revision talks. He intended to expand his veto authority by granting the National Security Council final say on all key national decisions. It has not, however, received parliamentary support.


Furthermore, Battulga is likely to press his demand for greater profits from mineral deposits. Last summer, he suggested transferring to the sovereign fund 51 percent of the after-tax proceeds from the development of strategically vital mineral reserves (read: Oyu Tolgoi copper and Tavan Tolgoi coal mines). During the constitutional change debate last fall, MPP lawmakers rejected the proposal.


Former President Elbegdorj and other top Democratic Party (DP) figures, including ex-Ulaanbaatar Mayor Bat-Uul, have been harshly critical of Battulga's inclination toward the authoritarian-style government.


They may try to prevent Battulga from being re-nominated by the DP in 2021, which could lead the President to seek support from other parties for support.



 

Author


Amar Adiya is editor-in-chief of Mongolia Weekly newsletter and regional director at Washington-based strategic advisory firm BowerGroupAsia.