Publication | Report/Paper

Mongolia: An Assessment of the Election to the Great Peoples Hural - June 1992

Executive Summary

To the surprise of many, in the June 28, 1992 elections, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, the former ruling communist party, won 70 of the 76 seats in the new parliament despite opposition from nine other coalitions and parties. Yet the results of the election make sense in context of the electoral system and the Mongolian political environment. The election irregularities that were observed occurred on a scale insufficient to have significantly altered the outcome. Instead, the reasons for the MPRP victory stem primarily from the system of representation and the state of the political party system rather than from any corruption of the election process.

The election system and level of voter education made it likely for voters to cast all their votes for candidates within the same party (rather than splitting their votes between parties). Such a system of representation, in the absence of competing parties of roughly equal size, overwhelmingly favors the dominant party. As a result, a party that carries over 50% of the vote throughout most districts of the country, as did the MPRP, will gamer a disproportionate number of seats in the legislature.

Reinforcing the effect of Mongolia's multi-member majoritarian system of representation is a splintered opposition. There are thirteen recognized political parties in Mongolia. Three of these, namely, the Mongolian Democratic Party, the Mongolian National Progress Party, and the United Party, joined together in a coalition that turned out to be the MPRP's major opposition, while the Mongolian Social Democratic Party formed the secondary opposition. The remaining eight parties offered an additional seven choices on most ballots.

The resulting fragmentation of the 44% opposition vote was itself sufficient to account for the sweeping MPRP victory. But other factors played a contributing role as well.

First, the MPRP was, prior to the emergency elections held in July of 1990, the only official political party in the nation. It is therefore the best-organized party throughout the entire country. Moreover, despite the 1990 street demonstrations and demands for reform, the MPRP never really suffered the kind of public disgrace heaped on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Indeed, by its leadership in espousing some political reforms and a skillful campaign to blame the country's economic woe on the opposition, it managed to portray itself in a favorable light. In contrast, the opposition parties are young, disorganized, and in some cases narrowly focused on special interests. Nor do any of them seem to have sufficient strength in anyone region or district to constitute a serious force. Indeed, it is important to note that the MPRP was the only political party that fielded a full slate of candidates- a slate equal in number to the number seats up for election - in every electoral district. No opposition pa.rty chose, or managed, to do this.

Finally, some of the opposition leaders had earned public scorn owing either to personal scandals or else to their involvement in such public scandals as the loss of some $80,000,000 in foreign currency on the commodities market (lending credence to the MPRP's campaign to blame them for the economic hardships).

There were a few patterned election irregularities that may have worked in favor of the MPRP. For example, their members dominated virtually all the precinct polling boards and sometimes provided inappropriate voter instruction; the MPRP was first on every ballot in the country; and the MPRP dominated the local governments that organized the election and prepared the voter registry. Yet, in the view of the IFES delegation, these factors did not much alter the election outcome. These views were shared not only by observer teams from Russia and the European Community and more importantly by the leaders of the Mongolian opposition parties in their post-election press conference.  

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