Polls have opened for the Mongolian presidential election, with surveys suggesting incumbent Tsakhia Elbegdorj will win a second term. All three candidates are promising fairer wealth distribution from a mining boom. Voters in Mongolia went to the polls on Wednesday morning with election campaigning dominated by a national debate over mineral rights. Recent polls indicate that President Elbegdorj will retain the presidency, campaigning on a policy of using foreign cash to drive development. Since he was elected for a first term in 2009, Elbegdorj has also led a drive against corruption.Elbegdorj’s main challenger is likely to be Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) candidate Baterdene Badmaanyambuu, a former champion wrestler. Baterdene – who is particularly popular among rural voters – has portrayed himself as being committed to upholding national unity and has helped to draw up a new environmental protection law amid concern about the ravages of the recent mining boom.
The opposition Democratic Party edged out Mongolia’s ruling party in a tightly contested legislative election that centered on how best to use the wealth generated by the still poor but fast-developing country’s mining boom. It was not yet clear if the Democrats would win an outright majority in the 76-seat parliament. The party won 20 of the 48 seats awarded by outright majority in Thursday’s vote, compared with 15 for the ruling Mongolian People’s Party and fewer seats for two other parties, results released Friday by the General Election Commission showed. Under a new system, the remaining 28 seats are awarded based on the parties’ proportion of the overall vote, giving the Democrats a commanding but not a decisive edge in the new parliament. A coalition government between the major parties or with smaller parties would likely perpetuate slow policy-making and partisan bickering that has characterized Mongolia’s fledgling democracy.
Mongolians will vote on Thursday to elect a new parliament which will have the task of distributing the spoils of a mining boom that has brought rapid growth but also rising inequality to the resource-rich nation. Mongolia’s economy has exploded in recent years, as a relatively stable political environment has drawn in foreign investors keen to exploit its vast untapped reserves of coal, copper and gold. Foreign investment quadrupled last year to nearly $US5 billion, according to government data, but little of that has trickled down to the poorest of Mongolia’s 2.8 million people. The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party both say they want to ensure a fairer distribution of wealth in the vast and remote nation, although neither has given any detailed indication of how.
The Democratic Party of Mongolia announced Thursday that it plans to quit the governing coalition, in maneuvering ahead of elections likely to center on how the poor country can better distribute wealth from a recent mining boom. The Democratic Party’s withdrawal, if finalized, still leaves the dominant Mongolian People’s Party with a majority in parliament, so the move is unlikely to affect the workings of the government. But it presages bruising elections for parliament and local councils in June.