Monday, June 9, 2008

So here we are, it's election day soon on June 29. Again. It's when our politicians awaken from their 4-year beauty nap, all rested and full of energy and dive right into campaigning. Exciting times. One almost feels angry or cheated, the way you would when a friend who you thought was dead for all these years, turns up on your doorstep grinning from ear to ear asking for a couple of bucks.

I have never had the pleasure of voting, mainly because I happened to be overseas during each election. But I was there during campaign periods, both parliamentary and presidential. Almost every day, the campaign staff would come a-knocking. Mostly kids and old ladies, distributing flyers, little gifts like prepaid mobile credit or a desktop calendar. The flyers, far less than a political flyer detailing the candidate's agenda, would enthusiastically slander the particular candidates' competitors. Many of these flyers would question the ethnicity of some of the candidates: "His grandmother was Chinese. Do you really want this man to lead our country?". Come election, having any sort of foreign blood in you is a disadvantage.

I must say though, there are MP's in the government of mixed heritage. S.Oyun, MP and Mongolia's Foreign Minister, is half-Russian and half-Mongolian, as was her late brother S.Zorig, who was also an MP, a potential Prime Minister and one of the O.G.'s of the democratic revolution. (S.Zorig was brutally murdered, or assassinated some say, at his home a few years back. His murderers were never caught. His sister S.Oyun entered politics after her brother's death. Read more about S.Zorig and the Zorig Foundatoin here.) S.Oyun has been a source of inspiration to many young women around the country, and still remains one of the most popular politicians in Mongolia amongst the students and the progressive.

Running for a seat in the Ikh Hural is, in my opinion, a painful task. Be prepared to get slandered, defamed, your family history and your own history questioned, your financial history dug up and scrutinized. You may find yourself connected to organized crime figures come election campaigns. Or find a new branch in your extended family tree you never knew of.

The slander campaign takes the focus off the issues at hand. And for a good reason too. The general public no longer trusts issue-related promises by MP's during election campaigns. The public is interested in finding the candidate that will do the least damage to the country while in office. Therefore they make their decisions based on the politicians' track record. Can't blame them. The question that I have had on my mind since the last 2 elections is: Are we crazy? After all is not insanity defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results each time. We have been electing the same 2 groups of people into office election after election, swinging back and forth between them like a some doomed pendulum, hoping for some improvement. That is not to say that there was no progress. There have been progress on many fronts. But little progress in how the government is run and little progress on anti-corruption measures.
More to come on Election'2008 of Mongolia.

Parliament also known as Arkham Asylum
(Image Source: Wikipedia)

Some facts about the Mongolian Parliamentary Election or Ikh Huraliin Songuuli or Их Хуралын Сонгууль:
  • 12 parties running in the 2008 election for 76 seats
  • 26 constituencies
  • 2008 Election is the 5th general election since 1992
  • 62 of the 76 current MP's are running for reelection
    Source: Mongolia Web News