Freedom in the World
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Following a peaceful revolution in 1990, Mongolia began holding multiparty elections and has since established itself as an electoral democracy. While parties, and in particular the two dominant parties, remain rooted in patronage relations, and widespread corruption hinders development, political freedoms and civil liberties are firmly institutionalized.
- In the spring, the country shifted from a mixed electoral system to a majoritarian system, in an opaque process that drew criticism from an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) election monitoring mission.
- The opposition Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) won June’s polls with 45 percent of the popular vote, a result that gave it 65 of the 76 seats in the legislature. The incumbent Democratic Party (DP) won 33 percent of the vote, giving it 9 seats.
- A slew of election-related defamation complaints were lodged in the weeks leading up to the polls, contributing to a perceived chilling of political discourse.
In April 2016, the Mongolian High Court invalidated a part of the electoral law that had permitted a mixed electoral system, ruling that it failed to comply with a section of the constitution calling for direct elections. The parliament then approved legislation mandating a majoritarian, or first-past-the-post, system with 76 single-mandate constituencies. The OSCE criticized the reform process as rushed and opaque, and noted that the new districts were drawn inequitably.
In June parliamentary elections under the new system, the opposition MPP won 45 percent of the popular vote, a result that gave it 65 of the 76 seats in the legislature. The incumbent DP won 33 percent of the vote, giving it 9 seats. The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), won a single seat, as did an independent candidate. The Civil Will Green Party was eliminated from parliament. The OSCE mission said polling took place in an orderly manner.
Some journalists and activists reported a sense of unease about the potential for targeted enforcement of election laws officials say are intended to ensure fair media coverage of elections, but which critics argue threaten press freedom. Journalists reportedly asked authorities for clarification of some such laws, but did not receive any. Police reported receiving 209 allegations of defamation committed against candidates between June 10 and June 29, the day of the polls, though not all complaints were investigated and it was unclear if prosecutions arose from any of those that were. A sense of unease was echoed by some members of the general public who perceived a chilling of political discourse, and in particular of criticism of political parties, that was not observed in previous elections.
This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2017. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Mongolia, see Freedom in the World 2016.