In January, the speaker of the Mongolian Parliament was removed from office after large scale protests over political corruption. Just two years ago, their Parliament also removed the Prime Minister and his cabinet for corruption. With so many politicians being removed for corruption, the public’s faith in the government is wavering. David Sneath brought up an important point: If the public loses faith in its Parliament and political parties, authoritarian leaders may see a window of opportunity. But the removals may not be the only problems for Mongolia.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry once described the Asian nation of Mongolia as an “oasis of democracy”. Mongolia is a democratic nation sandwiched between a communist China and the communist pseudo-democratic Russia. Mongolia was a communist nation until a peaceful democratic revolution in 1990 established a multi-party parliamentary democracy. Freedom House reports Mongolia’s freedom score as 85 out of 100. Its freedom rating as 1.5 out of 7, political rights as 1 out of 7, and civil liberties as 2 out of 7. The Economist describes the country as a “flawed democracy”. Transparency International gives the government a transparency score of 37 out of 100. These reports and recent events may hint at a shaky future for the country.
The Washington Post reports that in March, their Parliament, with the President’s support, voted to remove certain safeguards protecting the courts and anti-corruption agency. Now several members of the government have to power to dismiss the head of the Independent Authority Against Corruption and the prosecutor general. The Washington Post also asserts that Mongolia is displaying democratic backsliding.
Whether Mongolia will stay a Democracy or backslide into an Authoritarian regime remains to be seen. You can find additional information on this subject here.
Mongolia is a really interesting nation in terms of culture and politics. How does their history, religion, and culture impact their political efficacy and interest in maintaining their longstanding democracy? How has foreign intervention from China and Russia impacted Mongolia if at all?
Mongolia seems like an interesting case in that it appears to be backsliding in a more general sense. That is, there is not one populist leader or movement, but a weakening democratic institutional foundation. It would be interesting to study this case further, in comparison to other countries that have experienced democratic erosion, both at the hands of populist or authoritarian leaders and similar more general breakdowns of democracy to see where Mongolia differs from these cases. It is interesting to consider the effects of Russia and China on democratic institutions, is this what differentiates Mongolia from other backsliders?