Amendments up for a vote . . .
Last week, the Mongolian parliament voted to call for a national referendum on proposed revisions to the 1992 Constitution. The new amendments would reduce the number of MPs serving in cabinet posts, increase the threshold for non-confidence voting, establish an independent Judiciary Accountability Commission, and reduce the politicization of the public service. It is hoped that these revisions will prevent frequent changes of government and interference in the judicial system. The referendum, scheduled for October 30-31, will be the country’s second since 1945, when Mongolians voted for independence.
Other choices at stake . . .
Although the parliament has the power to revise the Constitution, the ruling party, the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which holds 64 of 76 seats, was unable to reach a compromise over the proposed changes due to party infighting and fragmentation. The MPP therefore agreed to hold a national referendum to decide on the constitutional changes. If the referendum fails due to low voter turn-out or public disapproval, current law will prohibit constitutional changes for the next eight years. Other political interests at play include the current president’s desire to use the referendum to force a choice between a parliamentary or presidential system.
Broader implications. . .
The ruling MPP now has some decisions to make. First, it will have to decide whether to support an early election, which seems likely since other parties will not have much time to prepare for an election alongside the upcoming referendum. This could happen if a third of the MPs vote in favour of dismissing the parliament. Second, it needs to decide whether the current parliament will endorse the constitutional revisions if the public votes in favour, or whether to transfer this right to the new parliament. Finally, the parliament will need to deal with pressures to move to a purely presidential system, which some believe could endanger the country’s democracy. Canada, having supported Mongolia’s democratic transition since the 1990s, and with its sizeable mining investments in the country, should keep a close eye on these ongoing political dynamics.
- News.mn: Members finalize the Constitutional revision (in Mongolian)
- Parliament of Mongolia: Decided to hold the referendum (in Mongolian)
- UB Post: Referendum on Constitutional amendments to be held on October 30 and 31