Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mongolia's Democracy Threatened?

There are some interesting stats up on Gallup Polls site on Mongolia. The poll was taken last year. But the results of the poll are hardly surprising, and are still indicative of public sentiment today: 61% of people said they do not think the elections are honest, 78% agreed that corruption is widespread in the government, while only 38% had confidence in the government versus 49% of the 1,000 surveyed who said they had no confidence in the government. Post riots, the latter figure is probably higher.

International press now wonder: Is Mongolia's Democracy Dead?
I agree with Thomas Terry that it's far from dead. It's messy and chaotic and corruption is rampant, but absolutely nobody wants a return to a totalitarian state, with perhaps the exception of a few. The 4-days' state of emergency and media black-out have left many paranoid that the Government may force a return to a one-party system, but given the factious nature of Mongolia's politics and how far we have come since the early 90's, I do not foresee that ever happening. And the recent riots may have made it pretty clear that any perceived attempt at a take-over by a single party may be met with a lot of resistance. Again, one thinks, were the riots political in nature or was it simply a dangerous mix of economic frustrations and cheap vodka as Foreign Policy writer Patrick Fitzgerald suggests? No money, have vodka, will attack? So a part of the solution rests in placing higher taxes on alcohol, and vodka in particular? Surely a more sensible solution can be found, Mongolians might protest. In any case, I digress.
(Christian of Beyond the Golden Way has a similar post on the above)

So what caused the riots? Economic frustration is definitely a part of it. Disillusionment with the general state of politics in Mongolia. With a bit of nudge, would the rioters have burnt down the DP HQ too? People are more anti-MPRP than pro-DP, and most are pro-DP for lack of a better choice. But that is just my impression. Democratic Party's reputation has definitely fallen after the riots. Sometimes demonstrations deteriorate to riot levels simply due to mob mentality. A few disorderly group of people start throwing stones at the police, the police start beating up, or in our recent case, throwing stones back at the crowd, everyone else gets riled up. I do not know if the riots were pre-meditated and organized as many suggest and I do not think we'll ever know. Magnai and Batzandan of Civil Movement Party may end up as scapegoats. Enough of speculations.

Further to yesterday's post, the DP National Executive Committee have called, predictably, for the resignation of S.Bayar's administration. If their demands are not met, they are threatening to pull out all elected DP candidates out of the new parliament.

On a side note, from the preliminary results, there are only 3 female candidates elected to parliament this year. They are S.Oyun (Civil Will Party) from Songinokhairkhan District, UB City, D.Oyunkhorol (MPRP) from Zavkhan Aimag, D.Arvin (MPRP) from Khentii Aimag.