Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Mongolia received an upward trend arrow due to a fair and competitive presidential election, as well as the peaceful transfer of authority from one prime minister to another.
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of the opposition Democratic Party won the May 2009 presidential election, which international observers deemed free and fair. The incumbent quickly conceded defeat, and the country avoided the sort of violent protests that had followed disputed parliamentary elections in 2008. Although many of those arrested in that year’s unrest were freed under an amnesty law in 2009, observers raised concerns over beatings in detention and a lack of punishment for police who used deadly force to disperse the protesters. In October, the prime minister since 2007 resigned for health reasons, and power was transferred without incident to a new premier.
The combined effects of the global economic downturn and an extremely harsh winter exacerbated Mongolia’s high poverty and unemployment rates in 2009. In October, a $5 billion contract was signed with Ivanhoe/Rio Tinto, a Canadian and Australian company, to develop copper and gold mines. Though the deal was widely seen as a positive development, some observers expressed concerns over ongoing corruption and a lack of transparency surrounding the contract’s negotiations. Also in 2009, the government set up a Human Development Fund to distribute mining royalties to citizens.
Mongolia is an electoral democracy. The 2009 presidential election was generally considered free and fair by international observers. Parliamentary balloting has varied over the years between multimember and single-member districts, and there is concern that these frequent changes make it difficult to stabilize the expectations of political elites or enhance popular confidence in democratic government. The prime minister, who holds most executive power, is nominated by the party or coalition with the most seats in the 76-member parliament (the State Great Hural) and approved by the parliament with the agreement of the president. There is no requirement that the prime minister be an elected member of parliament. The president is head of state and of the armed forces, andcan veto legislation, subject to a two-thirds parliamentary override. Both the president and the parliament are directly elected for four-year terms.
While women make up 60 percent of all university students as well as 60 percent of all judges, only five parliamentary seats are occupied by women. A 2005 law prohibited spousal abuse, and there have been dozens of convictions in recent years. However, social and cultural norms continue to discourage victims from reporting such crimes.