By Ms. Linda Youn
The Presidential election in Mongolia is only several days away. The President will be decided by the people of Mongolia on June 26th.
If you look at last year’s Parliamentary elections, in terms of competence in organizing and funding a campaign, it looks as though the ruling Mongolian People’s Party has the advantage. Nevertheless, if you also consider the Mongolian public's tendency to vote in order to balance political power and avoid an excessive concentration of power, it is very possible that the opposition Mongolian Democratic Party, has a good chance of winning.
Two main issues facing the Mongolian Presidential election are very similar to the recent Korean Presidential election; how to overcome the economic crisis and how to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor as both governments are plagued by collusion between the government and businesses.
Mongolia is currently facing a big crisis during the recent global economic depression because it relies too heavily on its mineral resources and because it leans too much on China. Compounding serious damage to the problem, the whole Chinese economy is shaky and there have been significant price drops of mineral resources.
Last June, the Mongolian People’s Party won a large majority of seats in the Parliamentary election. However, they are struggling to find clear solutions to turn around the economic crisis which caused severe consequences to include a slowdown in economic growth, depressed currency valuations, and the failure to resolve the fiscal deficit.
Mongolia was on the brink of “default” as China imposed harsh trade retaliation after the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia last year.
The Mongolian government, to include the Prime Minister himself, tried to resume trade with China by issuing a written promise to never invite the Dalai Lama to Mongolia again. These actions, along with a relief loan from the IMF, barely allowed Mongolia to avoid the worst scenario of “default”.
However, these are only temporary measures as the accumulated burden of the national debt is making the future of Mongolia look even gloomier.
In Mongolia, around 10 domestic conglomerate companies have built upon unbreakable ties with core political powers across parties and have exercised vested rights over the years. The unclear governance structure of these companies and the strong but foggy ties with the government is causing the gap between the rich and the poor to widen. People in Mongolia are tired of this and hoping for real change.
The winner of the Mongolian Presidential election will face tough challenges to clean up deeply rooted corruption while sparking the turnaround of the economy. Sound familiar? Yes, this was exactly what the Korean Presidential election was faced with.
The South Korean economy has also been depressed due to trade retaliation from China. The trade row has been caused by the deployment of the Theater High-Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea. The economic difficulty is a result of this trade war as well as the systematic problem of the collusion between the South Korean government and conglomerates. In particular, the Choi Soon Sil situation angered Korean voters who elected President Moon Jae In from the opposition party. President Moon campaigned for cleaning up deep-rooted corruption and collusion between the government and conglomerates.
The candidates for Mongolia President are Enkhbold from the Mongolia People’s Party, Battulga from the Democratic Party, and Ganbaatar from the Mongolia People’s Revolutionary Party.
The ruling party’s candidate Enkhbold is a very prominent leader of the current ruling party and is getting active support from major Mongolian conglomerates and famous people.
Enkhbold, the son of a former Mongolian government official is emphasizing the strengthening of current government strategies with his wide breadth of governmental experiences to include filling various roles as the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the mayor of Ulaanbaatar.
Battulga, the candidate from the Democratic Party, is a ghetto superstar. He became a national champion after his victory at the World Judo competition. He is also the symbolic “self-made man” in business. He is a role model for people from the country side, particularly those with no family and educational background.
He is campaigning to fight the current system of collusion between political powers and businesses and desperately trying to bring about change. However, he is facing strong opposition and tough resistance from the ruling party.
The Democratic Party lost many seats during the Parliamentary election and is uniting efforts to win the Presidential election so they can make a comeback in three years.
Ganbaatar was an independent and unaffiliated member of Parliament who made it all the way to the Parliament without any help. He recently joined the Mongolia People’s Revolutionary Party at the last minute and was selected to be their Presidential candidate. He has a gentle and nice personality with smile and is the youngest candidate at 46 years old.
It appears that this Presidential election is a competition between M. Enkhbold with his slogan of stabilizing the government with support from conglomerates and Battulga with his slogan of cleaning up the government with support from ordinary Mongolian people.
During the South Korean Presidential election, Korean voters chose change and elected a leader who vowed to clean up corruption and the collusion between the government and conglomerates.
It will be interesting to see what the Mongolian voters will decide during the upcoming Presidential election.