Friday, June 13, 2008

Mongolia - Election 2008 updates: Zuunii Medee interview with Baabar

B.Batbayar, known as Baabar in Mongolia, is an influential politician and prolific writer. He had served as a Member of Parliament at the State Ikh Khural and has since retired from active political life. He remains active as a political analyst and commentator. I came across an interview with Baabar by Zuunii Shuudan(in Mongolian) yesterday, and translated the interview to English.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

Q:- What are your predictions for the election?
A:- I don't think the 1992, 2000 election results will ever repeat, where 90% of all the seats in Parliament were dominated by one party. There are many reasons for this. I believe Mongolians are learning the ropes of democratic elections. In 1992, we had the Gold Dealer crimes, and in 2000, Zorig's murder, and both were blamed on the transition to democracy and the Democrats, which caused the landslide victories (for the MPRP).

Q:- Who do you think will win this election?
A:- The two major parties combined will probably win no less than 90% of all votes. However, it is likely that neither of these parties will get the minimum required votes to form a government. This is quite possible. Lately, the analysis shows an increasing likelihood of a Democrat victory. Again, I don't think they will get significantly more seats than their opposition. It may be too early to tell. But these are the indications at the moment.

Q:- 12 political parties are running in this year's election. In your opinion, do they not have a significant chance? Everyone (apart from the two major parties) seems to consider their party as the third party.
A:- I think Irgenii Zorig Nam (Civil Will Party, led by S.Oyun, current Foreign Minister) will definitely secure 2 seats . But 2 seats are not enough for them to be considered the third party in government. By Constitution, they need at least 10% or 7-8 seats in parliament to have any significant influence on policy-making. Judging from opinion polls, public confidence in these political parties is not even 10%. But because our electoral system is a plurality voting system (First-past the post, sort of a "winner-takes-all" system) and not a proportional representation system, it is possible for the minor parties to win 6-7 seats. But as the Mongolian saying goes, a single log does not a fire make; the public has little confidence in the smaller parties.

Read the rest of the interview here