In just three weeks, Mongols will go to the polls to elect all 76 seats to the State Great Hural, their unicameral legislature. This legislature has the power of war and the power to select the candidates for the 2013 presidential election. Currently, the Mongolian People’s Party holds 60% of the seats (46 of the 76 available).
What will they hold once July starts?
Mongolia is best known for being the birthplace of Genghis Khan. However, there is more to Mongol history. In the early 13th Century, Genghis Khan created the largest contiguous land empire in the history of the world (to this day). Under his immediate successors, it stretched from Korea to Poland, from Russia to Iran, covering over 10 million square miles—almost a quarter of the land on Earth. This empire allowed peace and trade to flourish. It brought a small Italian traveler, Marco Polo, out of the Dark Ages into Pax Mongolica.
When Genghis Khan died, the empire was divided among his four sons and grandsons. These Khanates included the Khanate of Persia (Iran), the Great Khanate (China), and the Golden Horde (Eastern Europe). While this marked the end of the unified Mongolian Empire, it did allow the four Khanates to become more stable and focus on internal cohesion.
One grandson of Genghis, Kublai Khan, began the Yuan Dynasty. This dynasty was the first non-Han dynasty to rule China. Kublai succeeded in taking over China by showing himself to be more Chinese than the Han who ruled China—quite the trick, especially since Kublai wanted to be Mongolian.
To accomplish this, he built Dadu as his capital—modern-day Beijing. In the center of Beijing, he walled off a large tract of land to allow him and his family to freely be Mongols. Thus, he could retain his Mongol-ness, while appearing to be Chinese to his subjects.
When the Ming Dynasty evicted the Yuan Dynasty, they burned down Dadu and built a new capital there. The new palace complex became the Forbidden City. Also when the Ming Dynasty forced the Yuan out of China, the Yuan returned to Mongolia, which they still controlled. Well, they controlled it until the Qing Dynasty finally took it all in 1691. The Qing would hold Mongolia until the end of the Dynasty in 1911. While the Republic of China claimed all of Mongolia, they were only able to hold Inner Mongolia; Outer Mongolia successfully gained its independence, with the help of the Russians.
Thus, during the Cold War, Mongolia was closely aligned with the Soviet Union. Being stuck between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia was rarely in the headlines. As such, it faded from Western view. With Mikhail Gorbachev’s talk of glasnost and perestroĭka, Mongolians decided to pursue democracy. Thus, the first democratic elections in Mongol history took place in 1990. The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) still won a majority in the State Great Hural, but the democrats were able to freely contest the election. It was not until 1996 that the MPRP lost its majority in parliament to the Democratic Party (DP).
Election results in the State Great Hural since the end of the Cold War
Source: General Election Commission
However, the center-right Democratic Party only held the majority in the Hural from 1996 until 2000—just one session. They were a part of the governing coalition from 2004 until 2006 and from 2008 until January 2012.
The Democratic Party merely seeks to continue Mongolia’s transformation into a multi-party democracy. It is a member of International Democrat Union. As such, the Democratic Party is a center-right party, one based on the ideals of liberalism and libertarianism.
This contrasts with the center-left Mongolian People’s Party (MPRP), which belongs to the Socialist International and stands for social democracy.
So, why did the MPRP join with the Democratic Party to form a coalition government in 2008? After all, the MPRP won a clear majority of the seats in the State Great Hural (45 of the 76 seats).
The decision was due to the protests that broke out after the 2008 election:
The crowds accused the MPRP of rigging the vote. The protests turned into riots, which killed five people and burned down the MPRP headquarters. In response, the MPRP allowed the Democratic Party to join them in a coalition government, correctly believing that this move would end the protests—which it did.
And so, we are faced with the next elections, which will take place on June 28, 2012. Polling data is scarce, but with the election results from 2004 and 2008, the protests and riots in 2008, and the current economic downturn (global, not domestic), there is a little hope for the Democratic Party this time. In 2008, the Democratic Party did well in Ulaanbaatar as well as central Mongolia (Arkhangai, Bayankhongor, and Övörkhangai); the MPRP did well everywhere else.
Will the Democratic Party be able to make the case that they are better for Mongolia than the Mongolian People’s Party? We will know in a month.
|Official electoral body||General Election Commission|
|Election||June 28, 2012|