The Mongolian People’s Party is returning to power after a four year-hiatus after a landslide victory in elections that focused voters’ attention on slowing economic growth and a doubling of external debt by the ruling party.
The opposition MPP won 63 seats in the 76-seat Great Hural, according to preliminary results reported by party Chairman Enkhbold Miyegombo in the early hours of Thursday. Democratic Party leader Enkhbold Zandaakhuu conceded defeat on behalf of his party. Voter turnout was 70.4 percent, according to a preliminary report by the General Election Commission.
“The Mongolian people have made their choice. We respect this decision,” said the ruling party’s Enkhbold. “The last four years have been difficult. I congratulate the MPP and the ten or so DP winners. I’ll take responsibility for this loss.”
The election was largely billed as referendum on the $12 billion economy, after GDP growth tumbled from 17.3 percent in 2011 to just 2.3 percent last year. While much of that decline can be attributed to slowing growth in China and weak prices for Mongolia’s major exports, coal and copper, voters also blame the government for missteps and rising debt. The MPP had also called on voters to reject the DP’s spending plan, which doubled external debt in four years.
With elections now behind them, the MPP is expected to curb spending as the country prepares to tackle around $1 billion in debt coming due in 2017 and early 2018. While a delay in the construction of the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine has been a factor in the slowing growth, Mongolia has still managed to access credit markets.
A number of prominent DP incumbents failed to hold on to their seats, including Enkhbold and Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed. Popular singer Samand Javkhlan won a seat as an independent, as did a candidate from the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party.
The MPP ruled Mongolia uncontested for 69 years during the country’s communist era, when it was known as the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. Wednesday’s election was the largest win by a party since the MPP won 72 seats in the 2000 election.