Mongolia has been depicted as moving towards an authoritarian regime within the most recent years and has been leaning further away from democratic practices. During the 2016 parliament election, the country experienced a scandal known as the “60 billion tugrik”, in which government offices were sold in the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) to finance its election campaign. In the same year the two major parties in Mongolia, MPP and DP had changed the election rules. The election system was first conducted in a mixed system—using proportional and majoritarian voting but was then switched to a winner-take-all system—making the process to win seats more difficult for independent and third-party candidates. Polarization is then distributed and spread through the actions of changing rules and regulations. In this case, polarization is created through elite or movement polarizing discourse mobilizing new or previously disunited groups. Which contributes to affective political polarization at elite and mass level.
Most recently, the Mongolian parliament voted and proceeded to eliminate the safeguards that were in place to protect the independent rights of Mongolian courts and the anti-corruption agency in place. This action conducted by the Mongolian parliament grants the country’s President, Khaltmaa Battulga chances of obtaining more, and possibly, too much power, over the country. In the article, Here’s how democracy is eroding in Mongolia, by Boldsaikhan Sambuu and Aubrey Menardt, it discusses how this “legislation passed grants the president, prime minister and the speaker of parliament the authority to dismiss both these positions and all judges without justification before their terms of office expire.” (The Washing Post). Battulga was elected to parliament in 2004 but was accused of embezzling which led to his resignation. Fast forward to present time, Battulga now holds all power over the very same institutions that had investigated him many years ago. Battulga’s strategy to win the 2017 presidential election was carried out through a populist image, campaigning that his political opponents were in truth part of a secret oligarchy that control’s Mongolia’s two major political parties. He accused his corrupted opponents of exploiting Mongolia’s mineral resource wealth at the expense of the ordinary people. As any other authoritarian ruler would, he promised that if he was elected that he would distribute the mineral wealth to all of Mongolia’s people. He declared that his opponents should be investigated for their wrong-doings.
Battulga’s claims against his opponents may cause higher levels of ethnocentrism within the community. Ethnocentrism is common in humans; it is a generalized prejudice and can be found mostly in situations where groups are segregated, creating a feeling an “in-group” and an “out-group. These claims against his opponents creates a scapegoat identity. A scapegoat can be defined as a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency. His harsh actions against his opponents and his claims about his opponents further the good reasoning to label him as an authoritarian ruler. The action of removing the safeguards that protect the independence of Mongolia’s court and anti-corruption agency has increased the process of democratic backsliding for Mongolia. In doing so, the President of Mongolia has granted himself more power over the legislation process, over the judiciary, and greater chances of corruption in the future within the presidential system.
*Photo “Mongolian Parliament Members”, Creative Commons Zero license.
Your post is well structured, and of particular interest to me, as many countries appear to be following a similar model for authoritarianism in Asia. In my blog, I discussed the recent elections in Thailand and highlighted how the ruling authoritarian military party altered the constitution to prevent opposition parties from operating. As you highlight, the current Mongolian president has gone to great lengths to hinder or otherwise prevent his opponents from running successful campaigns, particularly with the elimination of safeguards for the judicial branch of government. This incursion into the independence of the judiciary again speaks to the rising authoritarianism in Mongolia but also in other countries, as groups who hold power seek to consolidate and solidify their rule.