Mongolian legislative election, 2008
Mongolian People Democratic
Civil Will Civic Coalition Independent
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Parliamentary elections were held in Mongolia on 29 June 2008. A total of 356 candidates ran for the 76 seats in the State Great Khural. According to official results published on 14 July, at least 39 seats were won by the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), and at least 25 seats by the main opposition party, the Democrats (DP). Ten seats remained subject to possible recounts.
After intermediate results published on 30 June showed a clear MPRP victory, DP chairman Elbegdorj declared on 1 July that the elections were rigged and that his party would not accept the results. Protests against the election results turned violent on the evening of 1 July, and protesters sacked the MPRP headquarters in downtown Ulan Bator. Five protesters were killed, and around midnight a four-day state of emergency was declared.
Members of the State Great Khural were elected from multi-seat constituencies in a Plurality-at-large system, with two to four seats per aimag or (in Ulan Bator) düüreg. Previous elections had single-seat constituencies, and the new, more complicated voting system was reported to have led to a delay in vote counting.
Of the 76 seats, 20 were elected from Ulan Bator, and the other 56 were elected from the aimags. Mongolian voter registration is essentially coupled with civil registration. Vote counting is not done publicly, and results of individual polling stations are not published. After the 2004 legislative elections had been contested in some constituencies, Mongolian voters now have their thumbs marked after casting their vote.
311 candidates from 11 parties and one coalition, plus 45 independent candidates, were running for election, only 28 of them being incumbent MPs. Both the DP and the MPRP promised cash payouts in case of an election win. The DP promised 1,000,000 MNT (about 800 USD) per person in case of an election win. After first denouncing the idea of such payouts, the MPRP changed course and promised 1,500,000 MNT per person. Other issues were inflation and mining. As in previous elections, there were instances of candidates making monetary payments and other gifts to lure voters.
According to results published on 14 July, the MPRP won at least 39 seats, the DP won at least 25, at least one seat was going to the Civic Will Party, and three seats were won by independent candidates. However, results from three constituencies (Khentii, Dornod, and Bayangol) were delayed. On 20 August, final results from Khentii were officially published, raising the number of MPRP seats to at least 42. Turnout was 74.3%, considerably lower than the 82% of the 2004 elections.
|Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party||914,037||52.67%||45||+8|
|Civic Will Party||34,319||1.97||1||–|
Allegations of fraud
After immediate results showed a clear MPRP victory, DP Chairman Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj declared that his party would not accept the results, and alleged that the elections had been rigged. In a press conference held on 7 July, DP politicians Dambiin Dorligjav, Zandaakhüügiin Enkhbold and Lamjavyn Gündalai declared that there had been massive irregularities with voter registration. Some of their claims were later repudiated by the central registry office. Other allegations were irregularities in the counting process, and voter bribery. International observers, however, described the election as free and fair.
On the evening of 1 July, anti-MPRP protesters gathered in front of the MPRP headquarters, clashed with the police, and eventually set the building on fire. Police used batons, water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition. The Cultural Palace, north of the MPRP headquarters, was also set on fire. Around midnight local time, President Nambaryn Enkhbayar declared a state of emergency to be in effect for the following four days. Armored Personnel Carriers were deployed to the streets of Ulaanbaatar, a night curfew and a media blackout were declared.
Five people, all of them civilians, were killed in the riots: four were shot, and one apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The Mongolian minister of justice estimated 220 civilians and 108 service members were injured. Approximately 700 protesters were arrested., of whom 140, including 13 minors and 3 women, have been sentenced to 2–7 years in prison as of 31 October 2008.
On 15 and 19 August, ten police officers were arrested in connection with the shootings in the night of 1 and 2 July. On 20 August, relatives of these arrested officers organized a protest demonstration on Sükhbaatar Square.
Elbegdorj said on 18 July 18 that the DP would boycott the opening session of parliament on 23 July. He also said that he was prepared to resign as DP Chairman if the 200 protesters still being held by the police were not released and the political crisis did not end. However, the DP members were present in the opening session, with many of its members criticizing the Chairman of the General Election Committee, and the way the election was held. After Elbegdorj gave his party's position, members of the DP went out of the parliament. As a result, the new members of the parliament were not sworn in.
On 28 August, most of the DP representatives in the new State Great Khural decided to attend parliament, and all but Elbegdorj were sworn in. On 11 September, S. Bayar was elected Prime Minister of a coalition government between MPRP and DP. Elbegdorj finally was sworn in on the same day.
In May 2009, nearly a year after the crisis, Elbegdorj defeated Enkhbayar in the presidential election.
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