Mongolia held its legislative assembly elections this past weekend. The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party–the former Communist party–was reelected, evidently with 41 of the 76 seats. While Mongolia also has an elected presidency with some significant powers, the composition of the cabinet is determined entirely by the parliamentary majority (at least by my reading of the constitution).1 In any event, the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party also holds the presidency currently.2
It is not clear what the electoral system was for this election. Here I shall quote from a useful “seed” sent this orchard’s way by Wilf Day:
The Mongolian ballot looks interesting. They have changed back to a multi-member district system, but which one?
The new 1992 constitution provided for 76 members of parliament to be elected by block vote (plurality vote) in 26 electoral districts. The ruling ex-communist Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) party won a 70-member landslide in 1992. In January 1996, parliament amended the election law, such that all the 76 members of parliament were elected by plurality vote in single seat constituencies. The opposition alliance took power in the 1996 election with 50 seats. However, in 1997 the MPRP transformed itself into a social democratic party, and in 2000 the MPRP won a landslide victory: 72 of the 76 seats. In 2004 the close outcome — no party had a majority of the vote nor of the seats –resulted in a grand coalition which lasted less than two years, replaced in mid-term by an MPRP government with a very narrow majority. With this history, a new electoral system was overdue. A total of 76 new parliament members are being elected from 26 electoral districts throughout the country. The draft law provided for closed party lists on a proportional representation basis with a 5 percent threshold. But is that what they did?
It is indeed unclear. The ballot image at the first link Wilf provides is well worth a look, but I certainly can’t infer the electoral system from it. Nor is the accompanying text particularly illuminating:
This election is the first time a new voting system has been implemented. The new system is a rather complicated districtional system. In elections until now every constituency elected one member of parliament. The new system consists of considerably less constituencies but adds the novelty of several seats available in every one of them. The new ballots thus require voters to circle 3 or 4 candidates depending on the seats available.
As Wilf correctly noted above, multi-seat districts are not a novelty in Mongolia, though the news item is correct that recent elections have been held under single-seat districts.
The news item continues:
The new system poses challenges on every level. First voters are not yet used to circling multiple candidates and especially the number of candidates can cause some confusion. Reports have come in of people circling either too little or too many candidates. In the latter case the vote becomes invalid. The second challenge comes from the counting of the votes. The old fashioned method of piling up votes for the different candidates doesn’t work anymore since one ballot is casting votes for several candidates.
Here I am assuming that the “old fashioned method of piling up votes” actually refers to that prior system of multi-seat plurality (MNTV, or what others call “block vote”). The indicated contrast of this system to that one does imply that it is now a list system of some sort (and the outcome–a majority, but not a sweeping one, likewise suggests PR). However, the reference to voters’ “circling multiple candidates,” and especially to a ballot’s being invalid if insufficient names are circled, does rather sound more like the old MNTV.
As was the case yesterday on Iraq’s provincial electoral law, I am unable to tease out the needed details from available accounts. Two points, however, are evident: It must not be either “closed list where voters can vote only for political parties as a whole” and it also must not be the “single constituency,” as reported in the second article that Wilf refers to.
As with the last case Wilf reminded me of, Mongolia does not fit neatly into F&V orchard blocks. Is the country in East Asia? Central Asia? Yes.3
- That is, it is of the “premier-presidential” variant of semi-presidentialism. However, somewhat atypically for premier-presidential systems, the presidency has a veto that requires a two-thirds majority to override. In fact, the veto appears to have a partial (line-item) provision, which I am not aware of existing otherwise outside of some US states, various Latin American countries, and the Philippines. [↩]
- It won a majority in both the 2001 and 2005 presidential elections. [↩]
- Though it certainly is not SW Asia or Oceania. [↩]