Z. Enkhbold: Constitution may have to be amended if new election law is adopted

MP Z.Enkhbold, Head of the Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy, answers questions on the proposed changes to the law on elections.

Which of the two drafts will be discussed?

It is most likely that Parliament will decide to discuss the two draft laws simultaneously.

Have the party groups agreed on adopting the proportional system?

In general, yes, but it is too early to say that it will be fully proportional. Maybe a mixed system will be favored.

If a mixed system is chosen, how many seats will be elected proportionally and how many by the present majority system?

It is too early to say anything about this.

A working group of Parliament studied the issue; what conclusion did it reach?

No system can be flawless. There can be no absolute good or absolute bad and every country has to choose a system that best suits its conditions and requirements. The goal is to ensure that results of an election truly reflect the voters’ choice. In the election of 2000, the MPRP got just 51 percent of the total votes, but won 72 seats in Parliament. A Swedish organization later called this “an example of an extremely bad election” as party with just about half the votes got 93-94 percent of seats.

What about the suggestion that a party announces the full list of its candidates before voting?

L.Bold’s draft allows voters to choose both the party and the candidate.

Will the law about political parties have to be changed if the election system is changed?

If the system is changed, this is likely. If there is just one nationwide constituency, it will have the names of 76 candidates from each party. If there are 10 constituencies, the number of candidates will be 7 or 8. The party will decide whose name will be placed higher in its list. There must be a new law to have the same rules for every party.

Does this mean a party cannot have its own procedures?

These internal procedures also come under the political party law. This way, the fairness of the candidates’ list will be assured.

Bold’s draft proposing circling the name of the candidate and the party is said to be following the Constitution’s reference that “voters have the right to choose the representative directly”. How is this different from the other draft?

Both drafts suggest this. The working group’s draft proposes a list of 76 candidates while L.Bold’s will have, say,10.

Some feel choosing from 76 names given by each party would be cumbersome.

This is true. If there are 10 parties, there may be 760 candidates and the viter will find it difficult to choose one. Bold’s draft appears to be more practical. Making the constituencies bigger than they are now is a way to control the role of money.

What are the other benefits of the proportional system? Will it make the parties more responsible?

Elements from the proportional system must be used to make political parties more responsible. If there were no parties and anyone can stand for election, 76 individuals will be chosen. Everywhere, political parties select the candidates and take the final responsibility for their performance. By choosing the proportional system, we are getting closer to this way.

What do you mean by getting closer? Wouldn’t it be better to just implement the proportional system, instead of losing time getting closer?

There is the Constitution to think of. This has to be changed, if the best option is chosen. Both drafts worked with the assumption that the State Constitution will not be changed.

Why must the two drafts be discussed together?

They have good ideas that must be combined. If we really want to improve the election system, we shall have to amend the Constitution. Making the constituencies bigger is a way to utilize the experience of a candidate chosen from a small soum who will not work only in that region. Bold’s draft proposes a brand new thing - election geography. This will allow those elected to work for the entire country, not just for the constituency that chose him. MPs are chosen to solve the problems of Mongolia. We have the civil representatives’ assemblies to solve the problems of regions.

If this is the general thinking, why cannot we amend the State Constitution now?

We cannot anticipate what Parliament will finally decide.

Let’s say there will be a need to change the Constitution. Will this be possible?

If we adopt a system that will not “directly choose” MPs, then amending the Constitution will be necessary. But this can be done only after taking the opinion of the people.
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