Preliminary election results show Mongolian People’s Party in the lead

Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene declares victory in the country’s parliamentary elections but the opposition makes significant gains.

Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene at the headquarters of the Mongolian People's Party in Ulaanbaatar [Hector Retamal/AFP]

The governing Mongolian People’s Party retained a slim majority in the country’s parliament with the opposition Democratic Party making major gains, according to preliminary results reported early Saturday.

Mongolia’s Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene declared early victory in parliamentary elections dominated by deepening public anger over corruption and the state of the economy.

The prime minister told a news conference in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, his governing party won a majority in the 126-seat body. “According to the pre-results, the Mongolian People’s Party [MPP] has 68 to 70 seats,” he said.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, tallies by Mongolian media indicate the opposition Democratic Party won about 40 seats – a big jump from 2020. The results indicate opposition parties have been able to capitalise on voter discontent and eat into the governing party’s majority.

“Through this election, people gave their evaluation on the past policy mistakes of the ruling party,” said Democratic Party leader Gantumur Luvsannyam.

The MPP is the successor to the communist party that ruled Mongolia with an iron grip for almost 70 years. It remains popular – particularly among rural, older voters – and commands a sprawling, nationwide campaign apparatus.

Meanwhile, results tallied by local media outlet Ikon showed the minor anticorruption HUN party won eight seats. The votes will be counted by hand on Saturday to ensure accuracy, after which an official result is expected.

‘New page in democracy’

On Friday, people across the vast, sparsely populated nation of 3.4 million, sandwiched between China and Russia, voted to elect 126 members of the State Great Khural.

The streets of Ulaanbaatar, home to almost half of Mongolia’s population, were decked out with colourful campaign posters touting candidates from across the political spectrum, from populist businessmen to nationalists, environmentalists and socialists.

Long lines snaked around corridors at a polling station in a school in downtown Ulaanbaatar, with many voters wearing traditional clothing.

Tsagaantsooj Dulamsuren, a 36-year-old cashier pregnant with her fourth child, said the election offered her a chance to “give power to the candidates” she really wanted to support.

“I want lawmakers to provide more infrastructure development … and more jobs in the manufacturing industry for young people,” she said outside a polling station at a hospital near the capital.

Corruption scandals have eroded confidence in the government and political parties. Besides the centre-right Democratic Party, the HUN Party emerged as a potential third force.

In addition to corruption, major issues for voters included unemployment and inflation in an economy rocked first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then by the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Many younger voters, however, expressed disappointment with the governing party and said they chose younger candidates who they hoped would bring change.

“I am very disappointed in the result,” said Shijir Batchuluun, 35, a marketing manager in Ulaanbaatar, suggesting the younger generation had not turned out to vote. “It’s all the same thing again. Singers, wrestlers, businessmen won.”

The prime minister thanked even those who did not vote for his party, saying that, for the first time, five to six parties had been elected to the parliament reflecting a “new page” in Mongolian democracy.

“Having diverse and contrasting opinions is the essence of democracy. Your criticisms will be reflected in our actions,” he said.

Source: News Agencies