Sluggish Economy Casts Shadow Over Mongolians Elections

  •  
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia — Jun 28, 2016, 5:06 AM ET


Mongolians vote in parliamentary elections Wednesday with sentiment weighed by a sharp downturn in the landlocked Asian nation's crucial mining sector, rising unemployment and political disillusionment.
The Democratic Party could lose its majority in parliament, known as the State Great Khural, to the opposition Mongolian People's Party a year ahead of the 2017 presidential election. But with no major policy offerings on the table and an economy pummeled by the global slump in commodity prices, it's unclear what options Mongolia has for reviving its fortunes.
The parliamentary elections are the seventh since the country made a peaceful transition to democracy in 1990. Yet disillusionment with the political process in the country — recently dubbed "an oasis of democracy" by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry — is growing among younger voters, whose turnout has steadily declined in recent years.
Amgalan Sukh-Ochir, 30, who works in marketing, said he plans to boycott the elections.
"In the last elections when the DP made all these great promises for prospering, I decided to support them, but look where we are now. I don't think they've achieved much," he said.
Mongolia's mining- and animal herding-dependent economy has been dragged down by weak domestic demand and a sharp decline in exports, impoverishing thousands of former herders who had moved to its few cities looking for jobs. Economic growth has slipped from 17.5 percent in 2011 to just 2.3 percent last year in the resource-rich nation of 3 million people, one-fifth of whom live in poverty.
Both the ruling Democratic Party and its main rival have campaigned on the promise of more jobs.
"The main issue is, No. 1, to revive the economy," said Bulgantuya Khurelbaatar, secretary of the opposition Mongolian People's Party. She said the party aims to build 100 factories in 21 provinces that would create about 40,000 new jobs, though she didn't say how.
It's unclear what measures or resources are available to stimulate the flagging economy.
Coal, copper and other mineral resources make up 94 percent of Mongolia's exports. But with demand in China weakening as its economy cools, Mongolia's own growth is forecast to fall below 1 percent this year.
Foreign investment in the country has slowed to a trickle, though mining giant Rio Tinto announced in May the launch of the next stage of a multibillion-dollar gold and copper mine. Still, critics of government agreements with mining companies complain that too little of Mongolia's mineral wealth benefits the general public.
Some observers see recent changes to the electoral process as handicapping smaller parties and female candidates.
"They have closed some space for smaller political parties, as majoritarian systems do tend to benefit two main political parties," said Ashleigh Whelan, country director for the International Republican Institute, a U.S.-based group with the stated aim of promoting democracy globally.
"This can reduce the opportunity for lesser-known candidates, new candidates, youth, women and those candidates who may not be a guarantee in terms of winning," Whelan said. Her organization does not expect either party to secure an overwhelming majority.
In its latest National Human Development Report, the United Nations Development Program found that only about 45 percent of Mongolians aged 18-34 have voted in recent elections, compared to an overall turnout of 65 percent in 2012.
Skepticism has grown after the ruling party recently offered citizens 300,000 tugriks ($155) to sell 30 percent of their promised shares in the state-owned coal mine, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi. So far 1.2 million of 1.65 million shareholders have applied to sell their shares to the government.
"I think it's illegal to tell you the truth," said Khurelbaatar of the opposition party. "This is right before elections . it seems to all political parties that they're actually trying to buy off votes."
The Democratic Party did not respond to requests for comment.

Source:AP


Share:

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Facebook page

Powered by Blogger.

Categories

Advertising in Mongolia An Culture Editorial of the Mongolianviews education Environmental protection Famous Mongolians Foreigners in Mongolia Inner Mongolia Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia agriculture Mongolia analysis Mongolia and Australia Mongolia and Belorussia Mongolia and Cambodia Mongolia and Canada Mongolia and central Asia Mongolia and China Mongolia and Cuba Mongolia and EU Mongolia and Germany Mongolia and Hongkong Mongolia and Hungary Mongolia and India Mongolia and Inner Mongolia Mongolia and Iran Mongolia and Italy Mongolia and Japan Mongolia and Kazakhstan Mongolia and Korea Mongolia and Kuwait Mongolia and Malaysia Mongolia and Nato Mongolia and North Korean Mongolia and Poland Mongolia and Russia Mongolia and Singapore Mongolia and South Korea Mongolia and Taiwan Mongolia and the world Mongolia and Tibet Mongolia and Turkey Mongolia and UK Mongolia and Ukraine Mongolia and UN Mongolia and USA Mongolia and Vietnam Mongolia Banking Mongolia civic society Mongolia crime Mongolia diplomacy Mongolia Economy Mongolia Education Mongolia Energy Mongolia Finance Mongolia Health Mongolia History Mongolia holiday Mongolia in international media Mongolia Industries Mongolia Joke Mongolia law Mongolia LGBT Mongolia medical Mongolia military Mongolia Mining Mongolia Mining Developments Mongolia Mortgage Mongolia natural disaster Mongolia Petroleum Mongolia public announcements Mongolia railways Mongolia Religion Mongolia society Mongolia Sports Mongolia Stamp Mongolia telecommunication Mongolia tourism Mongolia Urbanization Mongolia Wild Life Mongolian Agriculture Mongolian Archeology Mongolian Food Mongolian Gay Mongolian Government news Mongolian History Mongolian Military Mongolian Mining Development Mongolian Movie Mongolian News Mongolian Parliament Mongolian Political news Mongolian Press Mongolian Songs Mongolian Women Mongolian Youth Mongolians abroad Moninfo Opinion Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement Photo news Press Release Rio Tinto Tavan Tolgoi coal mine Ulaanbaatar development Weird expatriates in Mongolia

Blog Archive

Followers

Live Traffic