Mongolia set to elect next President
There are three candidates. Downsized election campaign due to the pandemic. Some fear that a victory by the MPP could bring back a one-party system of government.
Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Mongolian citizens go to the polls today to choose their sixth democratically elected president, after a low-profile election campaign due to the restrictions for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ukhnaa Khurelsukh of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), a group that already controls the government and parliament, is the favoured candidate.
The current president is Khaltmaa Battulga of the Democratic Party. Recent changes to the Constitution require a single six-year term, which is why the Democratic Party has deployed Sodnomzundui Erdene to replace Battulga. His slogan is "Mongolia without dictatorship", because it is feared that a MPP victory could slide the country towards a one-party state.
Last month, eight members of parliament went on a week-long hunger strike to protest against the actions of the MPP, using three state bodies, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the General Election Committee, to manipulate today's elections.
Battulga remains popular with voters, but some have been disappointed by his inability to challenge the ruling elites. " "Battulga struck deals with the current MPP that were detrimental to Mongolia's democracy," Enkhtsetseg Dagva, head of the election program of the Open Society Forum, a non-governmental organization, told Reuters.
The events of the election campaign have been minimized due to the pandemic. Almost 1,000 Khurelsukh supporters held a rally outside a conference room on Saturday, but the MPP candidate then moved his campaign online after Labor Party rival, Dangaasuren Enkhbat, the third candidate in the election, tested positive to the coronavirus.
"Both parties are right," said Sumati Luvsandendev, a political analyst and pollster with the Sant Maral Foundation, a Mongolian consultancy. “Both sides are 'undermining democracy' and it is not easy to say which side is doing better."
Instead " outsider Enkhbat is doing quite well in consolidating protest votes in urban areas...(but) his chances against the mighty MPP system are very little,” he said.
Sumati added that he expects the MPP to emerge victorious.