Populist former martial arts star and businessman Khaltmaa Battulga has won Mongolia‘s presidential run-off election, according to voter data from the General Election Commission released on Saturday. The poll was seen as a referendum on the government’s economic recovery plans and the role of southern neighbour China in the landlocked but resource-rich country known as the birthplace of Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. Battulga, of the opposition Democratic Party, won with 50.6% of the vote on a 60.9% turnout, giving him the majority needed to overcome his opponent, said parliament speaker Miyeegombo Enkhbold of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party. Election officials are still, however, waiting on a final count of votes from abroad.
The election campaign was marred by political mudslinging from all sides and the public perception that none of the candidates were fit for the job, according to Luvsanvandan Sumati, the head of polling group the Sant Maral Foundation.
“The worst election in Mongolian history,” said Sumati.
Enkhbold’s loss was definitive. He trailed far behind Battulga with 41.2% of the vote due to the nearly 1,000,000 blank votes submitted in protest at the choice of candidates.