Changes likely to increase policy continuity and judicial independence . . .
On November 16, Mongolia's parliament passed a set of amendments to its constitution after reaching an agreement with populist President Battulga Khaltmaa, who vetoed an earlier parliamentary decision on constitutional revisions. The new amendments include three notable changes. First, they raise the threshold for the parliament to change the Prime Minister and cabinet members, and to make social and economic policies and the state budget. Second, the independence of the judiciary will be strengthened. Third, the president will now be limited to a single, six-year term.
A boost for parliamentary democracy . . .
The constitutional revisions have been long overdue. The constant fights between the parliament and popularly-elected presidents over the cabinet, as well as the weakly-institutionalized judiciary, have been regarded as major obstacles to the country’s democratic fate. President Battulga has at times been regarded as a populist who wanted to to introduce Vladimir Putin-like authoritarian rule. In March, the parliament passed legislation approving a National Security Council, consisting of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Parliamentary Speaker, that will propose changes to judges, the prosecutor general, and the head of the anti-corruption agency. The constitutional reforms appear to be a response to public concerns about Mongolia sliding into authoritarian rule.
Broader implications . . .
The new amendments strengthen Mongolian democracy by blocking any potential move toward authoritarianism, which has happened in several Central Asian countries. Moreover, they increase the constraints on populist politicians and the political instability and frequent policy changes they tend to be associated with. At the same time, the constitution will help increase judicial independence, which will represent an important step towards building public and private trust in judicial proceedings. Canada, having supported Mongolia’s democratic transition since the 1990s, and with its sizable mining investments in the country, should encourage Mongolia's efforts towards strengthening democratic and judicial institutions.
- Reuters: Mongolia amends constitution in bid to end political instability
- Mongolia Focus: Mongolia amends Constitution
- Eagle.mn: Total 19 articles are revised (in Mongolian)