Decisive win for former PM . . .
Mongolia’s former prime minister, Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, of the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), won a decisive victory in yesterday’s presidential election, taking 68 per cent of the vote. The contest was a three-way race between Khurelsukh, Erdene Sodnomzundui from the Democratic Party (DP), and tech entrepreneur Enkhbat Dangaasuren from the National Labor Party. The DP took only six per cent of the vote, a shocking 49-point drop since current President Battulga Khatlmaa’s win in 2017. The centre-left National Labor Party, a relatively new player in Mongolian politics, took 20 per cent, drawing its support mainly from urban areas, youth voters, and overseas Mongolians. The MPP consolidated gains in many of the country’s rural areas.
From gridlock to one-party dominance . . .
Yesterday’s election caps off several months of turbulence in Mongolian politics, marked by party in-fighting, attempts by the current president to dissolve the MPP, and an often-incoherent response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the one hand, Khurelsukh’s victory could restore a sense of stability, as the MPP also holds a supermajority in parliament. Specifically, the party’s dominance could help end the gridlock that has characterized periods of divided government, which, as some believe, has hindered the country’s development. On the other hand, the MPP’s control over so many levers of power will raise concerns that Mongolia could be sliding toward one-party rule.
Uncertainty about foreign orientation . . .
One effect of the MPP’s victory could be a strengthened hand in Mongolia’s negotiations with global mining giant Rio Tinto. That includes the government’s ability to retain a greater share of the wealth from Rio’s C$8.2-billion Oyu Tolgoi copper project, Mongolia’s largest employer and largest source of foreign investment. Another aspect to watch is whether Khurelsukh departs from his predecessor’s foreign policy approach of cosying up to Russia to rebalance between Moscow and Beijing, its largest trading partner.
- Australian Financial Review: Silver lining for Rio Tinto in landslide Mongolian election
- The Diplomat: Khurelsukh cruises to victory in Mongolian presidential race
- Nikkei Asia: Mongolia presidential vote: Ex-PM Khurelsukh declares victory