Mongolian Election Update

Author: Alan Sanders

The Law on Elections to the Mongolian Great Khural (MGK), adopted by the MGK on 15 December 2011, governs the arrangements for the holding of regular elections to the 76-seat MGK in the last week of June 2012. The law made provision for a number of election novelties, including proportional representation.

 Whereas 48 of the MGK’s 76 seats would be contested in the country’s 26 constituencies by party and independent candidates, the other 28 seats were to be filled from party lists in proportion to the total ballots cast. Candidates not winning a seat in the 26 constituencies, but gaining more than 28% of the ballot in their constituency, could be nominated for their party’s proportional list (this process has been called “sliding”). There is also a 20% quota of women.

 There were public objections to “sliding”, and formal complaints by 17 people were made to the Constitutional Commission or Court (CC), which is the arbiter in matters of constitutionality. On 28 March, having assembled in middle session (seven of nine members present), the CC resolved that some provisions of the Law on Elections to the MGK were unconstitutional. The detailed resolution has not been released yet, but in outline it said that articles 4.9 and parts of article 49.1 were unlawful. The session was attended by most of the claimants and several MGK members.

 A Mongolian lawyer was reported as saying the MGK had 15 days from its release to discuss the CC ruling. If the MGK decided not to accept the CC’s ruling, the CC would have to consider the matter in full session. If the MGK did not accept the full session’s ruling, the provisions in contradiction with the Constitution could not be applied in the elections, and the whole law would become invalid. It is unclear whether the CC could meet in a full session, since the chairman was appointed to a new job in November 2010 and has not been replaced. (The members of the CC are nominated by the President, MGK and Supreme Court, three each.)

There is a further complication, in that the Law on Elections to the MGK contains a provision that it may not be amended within six months of elections being held.

 The MGK is currently in the final stages of its autumn session and the spring session is due to open on 5 April. Its agenda includes the passage of the new Law on Local Elections. The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) and opposition Democratic Party (DP)  have disagreed about these elections, the MPP wishing them to be held as usual in October, while the DP wants them to be held on the same day as the MGK elections, which will be announced at the month-long spring session. The MPP and DP also apparently disagree about the constitutionality of the Law on Elections to the MGK, the MPP being in favour of accepting the CC’s ruling and the DP being against. Some members have suggested resurrecting the previous Law on Elections to the MGK, but this is thought unlikely.

 Another factor which might impact on the elections is the decision to use electronic vote-counting machines for the first time. A batch of these machines has arrived from the U.S. supplier, but there are concerns about possible late delivery of the rest and delays caused by software inputting of candidates names. Voters are to use their new electronic identity cards when registering to vote, but the printing and distribution of these cards has also been delayed.

April 4, 2012