Mongolia opposition takes parliament in landslide vote

Mongolian People’s Party gets 65 of 76 seats after vowing to boost economy in mineral-rich country to tackle poverty.

Opposition supporters hope the new government will boost the country's mineral-based economy [Getty Images]
Opposition supporters hope the new government will boost the country's mineral-based economy [Getty Images]

The Mongolian opposition has won by an unexpected landslide in parliamentary elections, indicating widespread frustration with the economy.

The Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) took 65 of the parliament’s 76 seats, with a turnout of 72 percent of the 1.9 million eligible voters, Mongolian news reports said on Thursday, citing results from the elections commission.

The poll had been expected to produce a closer result between the MPP and the incumbent Democratic Party, which only took nine seats.

Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, said: “The numbers of exactly how many seats the opposition party got is probably a little surprising, but their victory is not. Opinion polling going into election day indicated that the people wanted a change.”

The remaining two seats were won by a member of the Mongolian Revolutionary People’s Party and the popular singer Samand Javkhlan.

MPP party leader Miyegombo Enkhbold thanked voters for placing their trust in his party. “We are aware how much responsibility comes with this trust,” he said.

He said his party would work to boost the country’s mineral-based economy, official news agency Montsame reported. 

READ MORE: The battle for Mongolia’s resources

Growth is expected to fall from earlier double digits to about 2 percent this year amid struggling global commodity prices and China’s slowdown. Since 2011, Mongolia’s economic growth fell from 17.5 percent to 2.3 percent.

The country’s large reserves of natural resources have drawn increasing international interest, yet it maintains one of the world’s highest poverty rates.

It has the biggest known coal reserves in the world, the second largest reserves of uranium after Russia and one of the largest occurrences of silver. Mongolia also has huge copper and gold reserves.

Tsakhia Elbegdorj, former prime minister of Mongolia, identified two main problems: “The first is poverty and the second is the problem, how to handle the enormous wealth.”

Another challenge is the battle for political and economic independence from big neighbours China and Russia.

Al Jazeera’s Heidler noted that the economy “has been in such a free fall mainly because of the disproportionate exports to China”.

“The mining industry is massive here. One thing they need to do is change that. It is not something that can be changed in the four-year term.

“But what they can do is reduce the national debt which has been growing and that will hopefully improve the economy for the nation”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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