Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mongolia - Election 2008 updates: Ultra-Nationalist Groups Run in Election

2 members of the ultra-nationalist groups, Dayar Mongol (Даяар Монгол) and Blue Mongol (Хөх Монгол), are running for seats in the Parliament. G.Byambatulga is running from Bayanzurkh District (22nd District) of Ulaanbaatar city and D.Gansuren from Chingeltei District (24th district) of Ulaanbaatar city.

Goomongol.mn held a brief interview with Mr.Gansuren (in Monglian) regarding their election campaigns. The ultra-nationalist candidates are blaming the lack of publicity and awareness of their campaigns on lack of funding and aggressive campaigning by their corruption-funded competitors. Their campaigns, under the slogan of "Mongolian Ownership of Mongolia" are funded by public donations and the personal savings of the group members. Dressed in all black except for the Swastika around their neck, their campaign poster requests public donation.

In the interview, Gansuren mentions that the groups "fight against illegal Chinese immigrants not only in the capital city, but also in the rural areas". I do not know what they mean by "fight against", but it sounds somewhat violent and ominous. They also send a warning to Mongolians working with foreigners against national interest, promising the "traitors will be dealt with harshly". Not someone you would invite for Sunday lunch with your folks, unless you're of the same lop-sided inclination.

I do not know if the Swastika is a suitable symbol for them. Given their message, it probably is. While the Swastika is not so much associated with Nazism as it is with the Buddhist symbol of auspiciousness in Mongolia, I doubt "auspiciousness" is in their political agenda. Not the sort of message we want to send to the western world, which has the alternative take on the Swastika.

The lack of public debate over rising Mongolian ultra-nationalism is something to worry about. After all, we all watched the ascent of Jorg Haider of Austrian Freedom Party with concern. More so because I always wanted to visit Austria. What's more, there seems to be some support for these folks. If they are elected, it will not be the first time a single issue of public concern has propelled an ill-suited candidate to public office. The major parties and powers-that-be may simply be ignoring the small fry, allowing them their voices, so long as they do not step on any toes by actually getting elected. Perhaps the aggressive campaigning from the major parties in these districts is an indication of their opinion of ultra-nationalism.

Judging from the comments on Goomongol.mn's article, my impression is that there is little support as the public are not aware of the candidacy. The situation might have been different if they had the funds to launch an aggressive campaign.

News.mn has an on-going opinion poll on their website, where viewers may submit their approval for election candidates. View results here. Gansuren of Blue Mongol has a low rating on the opinion polls, but considering the large percentage of voters with no internet access, I doubt this poll is much reflective of election results. Do they have a chance? In my opinion, not this election. Neither Blue Mongol group nor Dayar Mongol group is a registered political party, yet (there are 18 registered political parties in Mongolia). But registering a political party requires only 800 member signatures. With a more determined leadership, who knows how they will do in the next election. Or perhaps I am giving them more credit than they deserve.