Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific


Landslide victory for MPP incumbents as Mongolians vote in record numbers

People cycle past the parliament building at Genghis Square in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).

Authors: Byambajav Dalaibuyan, Mongolian Institute for Innovative Policies and Julian Dierkes, UBC

On the morning of 24 June 2020, Mongolian social media was abuzz with posts of Ulaanbaatar residents proclaiming to have voted in the election. Some were wearing colourful deel — Mongolia’s national costume — to emphasise the sense of civic duty and respect attached to the act of voting. Polling stations closed 15 hours later amid heavy rain, localised flooding and even hail.

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Can Mongolia’s elections shun democratic backsliding?

Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga waits before a welcoming ceremony ahead of diplomatic talks in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 3 September 2019 (Photo: Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev via Reuters).

Authors: Byambajav Dalaibuyan, Mongolian Institute for Innovative Policies and Julian Dierkes, UBC

On 24 June 2020, Mongolia will hold its eighth parliamentary election since adopting its 1992 democratic constitution. This election is significant at a time when democracy worldwide increasingly appears under threat. It will assess the state of Mongolia’s democracy — which has exhibited signs of weakening — and whether the country can buck a global democratic backsliding trend.

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Preserving the political status quo in Mongolia

Author: Julian Dierkes, UBC

Mongolia’s economy hummed through 2019 on the strength of brown coal exports, regaining some footing following the near-disaster state of government finances in 2017. Repayment of several sovereign bonds looms in coming years and coal and copper prices will have a major impact on Mongolia’s finances, as will the ability of political parties to resist the temptation to buy victory in the 2020 parliamentary election with populist presents. Read more…

Mongolia’s growth challenges

Mongolian President Battulga Khaltmaa attends an interview with Reuters at the State Great Khural (Parliament) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 31 May 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/B. Rentsendorj)

Author: Gan-Ochir Doojav, the Bank of Mongolia

The government of Mongolia has been implementing the IMF’s three-year arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility since May 2017. The government’s program aims to stabilise the economy, reduce the fiscal deficit and debt, rebuild foreign exchange reserves, introduce measures to mitigate the boom-bust cycle, and promote sustainable and inclusive growth. Read more…

Mongolia hamstrung by political paralysis and corruption

Protesters attend a demonstration to demand the resignation of Mongolia's parliamentary speaker Enkhbold Miyegombo at Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 27 December 2018. The sign reads, "We demand Enkhbold to resign!" (Reuters/B. Rentsendorj).

Author: Julian Dierkes, UBC

After the excitement of the 2016 parliamentary and 2017 presidential elections, and the 2017 International Monetary Fund-brokered bailout, Mongolia’s relatively quiet 2018 was welcome respite. Rather than continuing to follow the meandering path of political advancement of previous decades, Mongolia is getting bogged down in an unhealthy mix of popular frustration, corruption and a powerful party duopoly. Read more…

Mongolia forges a new path from between the hammer and the anvil

Security personnel chat next to the statue of Genghis Khan at the parliament buildingin Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 27 June 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).

Author: Colonel Amarbayasgalan Shambaljamts, Mongolian Armed Forces

During the era of Communist rule in the former Soviet Union, Mongolia was integrated into a Soviet collective security system. Since the breakup of that system in the early 1990s, land-locked Mongolia has sought a way to get along with both of its large and powerful neighbours, China and Russia, and to ensure its own security through defence and diplomacy. Mongolia’s post-Cold War efforts to develop an independent security policy offer insight into the delicate strategic balancing that its geographic location ‘between the hammer and the anvil’ demands. Read more…

Corruption is a cancer that Mongolia can’t cut out

Khaltmaa Battulga, the presidential candidate of the opposition Democratic Party addresses reporters in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 8 July 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Rentsendorj Bazarsukh).

Author: Julian Dierkes, UBC

2017 was the year when corruption in Mongolia changed from being a taxing nuisance and moral outrage into a systemic block to political decision-making. Read more…

How China’s Belt and Road builds connections

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi walks outside the venue for a news conference by Chinese President Xi Jinping to conclude the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, 15 May 15 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee)

Authors: Evelyn Goh, ANU and James Reilly, University of Sydney

As the dust settles from the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th Congress, one of the strongest edifices left standing is Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy initiative — the US$1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Two members of the BRI Leading Small Group, Wang Hunning and Wang Yang, secured five-year positions on the reshuffled Politburo Standing Committee. The BRI even received an awkward mention in the revised Party Constitution. Read more…

Mongolia lurches between opportunity and crisis

Mongolia's new president Khaltmaa Battulga takes an oath during his inauguration ceremony in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 10 July 2017. (Photo: Reuters/ B. Rentsendorj).

Authors: Julian Dierkes and Mendee Jargalsaikhan, UBC

In the last 20 months, Mongolia has seen a parliamentary and presidential election, three changes in governments and several associated bureaucratic personnel rotations, all in the context of a sovereign debt crisis. This political turnover has led to serious neglect of the real challenges facing Mongolia. Read more…

Mongolia’s new president is Mongolia first and China last

New Mongolia's president Khaltmaa Battulga is accompanied by outgoing president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj during his inauguration ceremony in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 10 July 2017. (Photo: Reuters/B. Rentsendorj).

Author: Sharad K. Soni, Jawaharlal Nehru University

The inauguration on 10 July 2017 of Democratic Party (DP) candidate Khaltmaa Battulga as Mongolia’s new president was important for maintaining political balance in a parliament dominated by the opposing Mongolian People’s Party (MPP). Battulga ran masterful anti-China rhetoric during his campaign to defeat his rival Miyegombo Enkhbold, the leader of the ruling MPP. Read more…

Mongolia’s mighty military diplomacy

Mongolian guards of honour perform during the opening ceremony of Khaan Quest 2015, an annual multilateral military exercise, at a military training centre, near Ulaan Bator in Mongolia, 20 June 2015 (Photo: Reuters/B. Rentsendorj).

Author: Frank Adam Negri, Alaska National Guard

Mongolia is quickly becoming known for its global military presence. With China and Russia as its only direct neighbours, Mongolia faces a conundrum. Mongolia’s foreign policy is dominated by the necessity to balance the influences of its powerful neighbours and the need to gather support from like-minded countries. Mongolia refers to this as their ‘Third Neighbour Policy’, which aims to allow for economic and political self-determination independent of both China and Russia. Mongolia’s military is key to the execution of this policy. Read more…

Mongolia’s disappointing come down of 2016

The Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia (Photo: Reuters/David Stanway).

Author: Julian Dierkes, UBC

It has been a momentous year both economically and politically for Mongolia. But not in a good way. Just five years ago Mongolia was flying high. It was the world’s fastest growing economy with a wealth of resources to fuel further development, a solidly institutionalised democracy and a young population with a high standard of at least basic education. It seemed like the eternal blue sky was the limit. Read more…

Regreening China will take more than trees

Chinese farmers toss grain into the air to separate kernels from chaff on the top of a hillock in Pianguan county on the Loess Plateau in Shanxi Province. Soil erosion in Shanxi is the most serious in all of China. By the turn of this century, the natural vegetation cover on the Loess Plateau had decreased to 10 percent. After decades of piecemeal attempts at tree-planting, the Chinese government is moving to tackle deforestation systematically with the help of multilateral agencies. Farmers now borrow soft loans from the World Bank to terrace inclines of less than 20 degrees for planting cereal grains while steeper slopes are planted with reinforcing shrubs and trees. (Picture: Reuters)

Author: Kathleen Buckingham, World Resources Institute

China has the highest afforestation rate in the world, resulting in a 9 per cent increase in forest cover over the past 30 years. This is not for reasons of altruism. Read more…

Mongolia makes the most of the middle position

Author: Anthony Rinna, Sino-NK

On 14 April 2016 the foreign ministers of Mongolia and Russia signed what they termed a Medium-term Strategic Partnership Development Program in Ulaanbaatar. Plans to establish a strategic partnership between Mongolia and Russia date at least to September 2014, when the presidents of the two countries met in the Mongolian capital. Read more…

A new chapter in Australia–Mongolia relations

Author: Martin Foo, Australian Centre for Financial Studies

In February 1987, a pair of junior American diplomats arrived in pre-democratic Mongolia to lay the groundwork for establishing a US embassy — no simple task in Ulaanbaatar, the world’s coldest capital. When the embassy opened a year later, its American staff resided in a ramshackle apartment building that they nicknamed ‘Faulty Towers‘. Much has changed since then.

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