Thursday, June 27, 2013

Digesting the Results of the Presidential Election (Presidential Q&A)

Digesting the Results of the Presidential Election

I will be updating, changing, adding to and deleting from this post continuously this morning (June 27 in Ulaanbaatar) as I sort my thoughts and understanding of the result of the presidential election.
At 8:30h it seems like the GEC is set to announce preliminary (I presume) results that make Elbegdorj a just-barely winner at 50.23% with Bat-Erdene getting 42% of the votes, and Udval 7%. All this on a low participation of record-low participation of 64%.


In the run-up, I was quite hesitant to make predictions, in part because there is no systematic basis for such predictions in the absence of polls and social statistics. I did suggest some outcomes and here’s my brief list of I-told-you-sos:
  • Elbegdorj won, but barely
  • Udval would show around 8%
  • turn-out was a real issue


  • Turn-out: even lower than I expected and higher in Ulaanbaatar than country-side
  • Udval: result on the low end of expectation
  • Elbegdorj support: what worked in campaign, though absent exit polls, we won’t know


I’ll try to pull together the actual figures as the GEC posts them or as they get picked up on-line.
A post offers numbers – though still incomplete – from this morning’s GEC announcement. A number of aimags were still missing and there now seems to be a GEC press conference planned for 11:30h.
It’s immediately obvious that Elbegdorj won big in Ulaanbaatar (with big numbers of citizens, of course). If we add the big six city districts (Bayangol, Bayanzurkh, Songinokhairkhan, Sukhbaatar, Khan-Uul, and Chingeltei) together, they gave Elbegdorj 530,000 votes compared to Bat-Erdene’s 290,000.
Stability, stability, stability! Isn’t that what happens when an incumbent is re-elected?
The very close result is not one that will obviously embolden Elbegdorj, nor his fellow DP leaders who may have an eye on the 2016 parliamentary election already. On the other hand, Elbegdorj hardly seems like a leader who will let himself be pushed into a lame duck position, just because this is his final term.
The most likely trajectory in the medium term is thus that Elbegdorj will continue to focus on the areas that he’s been somewhat focused on for the past four years and that are within the purview of the presidency: foreign relations and the judiciary. He will also continue to insert himself into governance questions at the highest level (especially Oyu Tolgoi), but also at a grass roots level through the citizens halls he has created.
Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Party Politics, Politics, Presidential 2013 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Investigating the Rural Vote

Over the past weekend, I was very fortunate to have the chance to travel to Khentii Aimag and to speak to a number of locals. I was particularly interested in how the campaign messages of the three candidates played in the countryside and to what extent Mongolians in rural areas perceive politics to be focused too much on Ulaanbaatar.
Here, I am specifically investigating the views of two of the (reportedly) 50 million livestock living in Mongolia who are still disenfranchised by the Ulaanbaatar and androcentric election system.

Presidential Q&A

The general view in Ulaanbaatar was that Bat-Erdene was trailing Elbegdorj significantly in voter support in some part because of his lack of political experience, and profile and the fact that he doesn’t “look presidential”. This latter judgement is not about his stature which is quite presidential as you would expect from a former wrestling champion. Rather, this refers to the observation that Bat-Erdene has not been politically very active in parliament and, in particular, does not have any international experience. He also is not terribly charismatic in large public events, though some have mentioned that he connects very well with people in smaller settings.
This was the set-up for the presidential candidates’ Q & A on Monday, June 24 at 21:45h on public broadcaster MNB’s main channel: Elbegdorj was looking not to make a mistake, Bat-Erdene was looking to score big to carry some momentum into Wednesday’s election, and Udval’s performance was probably irrelevant.

In a nutshell

Elbegdorj looked presidential if a bit stiff, but did not make a mistake
Udval was surprisingly engaging and fairly moderate in her statements
Bat-Erdene was awkward
Note that we watched the debate at a highway rest-stop in Jargalkhaan and the electricity went out during the 8th question.


373 questions were submitted to MNB, the public broadcaster which were then condensed. Candidates drew lots as to the order they would start. They then rotated the order in which they addressed questions addressed to them by two moderators. The opening statement was just a minute, answers to questions two minutes long. A beep signaled that the end of the answer period was approaching. Other than some fumbles by Bat-Erdene who jumped out to answer questions before his “shot clock” started ticking, candidates stuck to rules. They did not engage each other directly (at least not until the 8th question when our electricity cut out). The format would thus be more appropriately called a Q&A session rather than a debate as Twitter follower Mukhit pointed out to me.


After the opening statements, the first seven questions focused on the following topics: Values, representing Mongolia abroad, current socio-economic situation, judiciary, military, mining and its impact on the economy, Mongolian traditions, education.
In the answers to these questions there were no surprise announcements, nor did any of the candidates make any radical statements of any kind. Answers were generally very similar, as the platforms were, and differed in style and emphasis but not in substance.
When asked about their values, the candidates highlighted citizens’ halls and democratic participation (Elbegdorj), sovereignty (Bat-Erdene), and justice. [I will return to Elbegdorj’s emphasis on citizens halls in a future post as this appears to have been significant in his campaign in the countryside].
In response to the question on international relations, all three candidates mentioned and emphasized good relations with the two immediate neighbours as well as a continuing focus on the “3rd neighbor” policy.
Udval got the best reaction in the whole debate (from our audience) in her response to the question about the socio-economic situation. She pointed out that more than 30% of Mongolians are poor, so that would probably make her the poor one among the candidates. Somewhat surprisingly, Elbegdorj immediately jumped on electricity as the most important issue for the socio-economic situation. Other answers were fairly bland, as they were on the judiciary which is an obvious area for Elbegdorj to emphasize his past record.
Regarding the military, Bat-Erdene and Udval both mentioned cybersecurity as a new threat for security policy to address.
Udval’s answer on mining was somewhat surprisingly mild in that she did not really embrace any kind of explicit elements of resource nationalism, either as an ideology or in terms of practical policy implications. Elbegdorj emphasized that there needs to be not just a policy on production, but also on mining exploration, while Bat-Erdene mentioned the need for a build-up of processing capacity in addition to mining itself.
The question on Mongolian traditions could have been an easy opportunity for Bat-Erdene, but even on this question he didn’t really deliver. Elbegdorj answered first and discussed the need for Mongolian traditional roots to enable him to serve as an example for the people. Bat-Erdene spoke quite broadly and mentioned odd specifics like UNESCO world heritage designation. Udval dropped a reference to the ancient capital of Kharkhorum.


Elbegdorj clearly looked presidential. He was calm and collected, handled his time well and spoke in a straightforward manner, though he seemed a bit tense at some times.
Surprisingly, as she had come across as fairly wooden to me in reporting on campaign events, Udval was quite engaging and probably worked the camera best of the three by looking at the moderators, but also engaging viewers directly without staring at them through the lens. On the chest of her deel she was wearing a green gem of some kind that occasionally reflected the studio lights for a quick flash. Less impressive compared to the other candidates was that Udval referred to her notes most often while both Bat-Erdene and Elbegdorj spoke freely. One of the Mongolians in our audience commented that she spoke beautifully in terms of her choice of words and phrases. She seemed the most relaxed of the three.
Bat-Erdene did not come across as very presidential. His suit was ill-fitting, he was sweating, and he shifted his eyes from side to side. He also struggled with time-management and had an on-going battle with the studio clock.


Udval won this debate, but it will most likely not make that much of a difference to the outcome other than that she might be taking more votes from Bat-Erdene than anticipated.
Elbegdorj continued to play it safe with an incumbent’s campaign and didn’t fumble any of the questions.
Bat-Erdene did not shine and likely did not improve his chances significantly.
Since the debate came on the last night of the campaign (Tuesday, June 22 is a day off from campaigning before the election on Wednesday) it may have a significant impact on undecided voters. It’s hard to imagine that many of them were swayed by Bat-Erdene’s performance, so if anything the debate reinforced the general expectation that Elbegdorj is heading victory, perhaps even likely without a run-off.
Posted in Democratic Party, Education, Elections, Foreign Policy, Judiciary, Mining, Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Party Politics, Presidential 2013, Security Apparatus, Social Issues | Tagged | 2 Comments

Bits and Pieces about the Campaign and Upcoming Vote

Three days remain in the presidential campaign, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. In central Ulaanbaatar, there still is very little of a sense of excitement or at least public drama around the campaign.
Certainly, residents of the downtown core are a very specific demographic and do not reflect overall voter sentiments in the country, but the lack of buzz continues to be noticeable.
Even without buzz, I’ve been able to learn bits and pieces of observations and speculation about the campaign and the upcoming votes.


The general sense of the MPRP Udval’s campaign is that it is somewhat half-hearted. Somewhat disappointingly to some, other women in politics have not supported her candidacy and most have not even acknowledged the historical significance of the first woman candidacy.
Udval herself has pointed to the lack of funds available to her in the campaign as an explanation, though most campaigns would complain about such constraints.
At least, a spot that had been held by an Udval billboard, that had been removed, was filled again on Sukhbaatar Square yesterday.The photo on the billboard shows Udval with the official photo that will also appear on the ballot in the election on Wednesday. I have not heard any discussion of Udval’s likely goals or performance in Monday night’s candidates’ debate.
The MPP seems to be framing the vote largely as one of support for an incumbent (Elbegdorj) which would create DP dominance for the coming three years, as opposed to a vote for Bat-Erdene who would bring about cohabitation between the MPP president and the DP-led government coalition and thus represent some kind of balance. There are frequent complaints about the unfairness of DP dominance of state institutions, yet these are complaints that sound eerily familiar from previous elections and other parties regarding the role of the MPP in the past.
There is one view that holds that if the result on Wednesday is closer than is perhaps generally expected and thus forces a run-off election, Bat-Erdene’s chances might be significantly improved. In such a run-off, so goes the assumption, Udval support would swing entirely to Bat-Erdene and he might carry any momentum that he might gain in the candidates’ debate into the period before the run-off election, a period when no further campaigning is permitted.
The dominant view in Ulaanbaatar is still that Elbegdorj will win in the first round. He has clearly been very active campaigning in the provinces, obviously trying to combat the imbalance in DP support between the city and the country.
His main task for the debate on Monday is to keep his cool, look presidential and to cast a light on Bat-Erdene’s lack of political activities despite having served in parliament for years.


There is none of the obvious tension in this presidential election in the city that was so palatable in 2009, following the 2008 riots. A quiet campaign also means a quiet atmosphere for the most part, though it’s best to recall that the ger districts surely harbour some reservoirs of discontent with the lack of economic opportunities that are accruing to many ordinary Mongolians while the country is booming.
There is also a lot of concern about voter turnout on Wednesday. I have not heard anyone suggest that they’re expecting an increase in turnout from previous
Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Presidential 2013 | Leave a comment

Foreign Policy Roundup: June 9-22, 2013

Below you will find the 3rd posting of our bi-weekly series, entitled “Foreign Policy Roundup”. In each roundup, I provide a 1-2 sentence summary of Mongolian foreign policy news, most of which come from Mongolian-language news sites. If you have any suggestions for how these posts might be improved, please do let me know.
Please note, that I am not a native Mongolian speaker, nor am I a professional translator. As such, I would welcome any corrections that others might have to offer. Finally, future postings might be delayed during the month of July, as I will be traveling in Mongolia, often in more remote areas. I will resume regular posting in August.
For summaries of Presidential candidates’ foreign policy proposals, taken straight from their Mongolian-language action plans, please see my previous post, here.
Director of the Finnish Parliament, Eero Heiniluoma, made an official visit to Mongolia. During his stay, he met with the head of the Mongolian Khural, Z. Enhbold, and PM N. Altanhuyag to discuss cooperation in the technological and educational sectors.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, L. Bold, traveled to Japan to participate in Japan’s Global Economic Forum-2013.
Interpol’s General Secretary, Roland Kennet, traveled to Mongolia to meet with Mongolian Minister of Justice, Kh. Temuujin.
Canadian Ambassador Greg Goldhawk announced that Canada would now grant up to a 10 year multiple entry visa to Mongolian citizens.
Japan and Mongolia agree to cooperate on issues related to North Korea, including abductions.
L. Bold traveled to Germany to discuss bilateral cooperation in minerals and technology. Mongolia agreed to allow German citizens 30 days to stay in the country for up to 30 days visa-free
Vuk Jeremic, President of the UN General Assembly, made his first visit to Mongolia.
Mongolian auditors traveled to Turkey to gain experience in the legal and technical issues of their field.
Mongolia established formal diplomatic relations with Antigua and Barbuda. This is part of a larger strategy for Mongolia to establish diplomatic relations with all UN member states.
UK-based news agency, The Telegraph, reported that Tony Blair is now a consultant for the Mongolian government. His experience in international diplomacy at previous consulting in the region under his company, Tony Blair Associates, is stressed.

Mongol Bank released its Trade Review, outlining Mongolia’s trade statistics up to May 2013.

Political Secretary of the Mongolian Ministry of Defense, Gen. Z. Boldbaatar, arrived in Germany for the 10th advisory meeting between the Mongolian and German defense departments.

Ex-Pat Mongolians
On June 14th, Mongolians living abroad casted their votes for the 2013 Mongolian Presidential Election.
Posted in Canada, Economics, Foreign Policy, International Relations, Mongolia and ..., Politics, Presidential 2013 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Some Perspectives on Election Campaign from Parties and Observers

In meetings with party officials from the DP and MPP, I heard – not surprisingly – very different perspectives on the election.
On the one hand, voters were described as interested in specifics of platform proposals, on the other hand they were described as essentially making a strategic calculation about whether they want to support an incumbent or support the opposition in order to curtail the power of the DP. From the latter perspective, there’s still a significant amount of movement possible in the electorate.
If voters are making strategic calculations, perhaps support for Udval will decline at the last minute, as MPRP supporters fall in behind Bat-Erdene to oppose the DP. Likewise, some voters who see Elbegdorj as an incumbent juggernaut might shift to Bat-Erdene to temper DP dominance.

Lacklustre Campaign

Generally, the campaign was seen as somewhat lacklustre. The only reason offered in conversations is “election fatigue”, but I couldn’t help myself and had to counter that we didn’t see much evidence of such fatigue in the campaign for the parliamentary election last year.
I asked at the MPP why I was unable to find a single Bat-Erdene billboards in the very centre of Ulaanbaatar to take an election snapshot and was offered a fairly generic answer pointing to a lack of funding, a requirement for pre-commitment to secure billboards, and a declining belief in the efficacy of billboards. Nevertheless, not a single one?

Views from Twitter Followers

At a “tweet-up” with some of my Twitter followers in Ulaanbaatar yesterday the conversation also naturally turned to the election.
I was virtually alone in still thinking that a run-off is fairly likely.
Others expressed surprise and disappointment in the lack of support Udval has received from other women in politics who have not really acknowledged the significance and symbolic importance of the first female presidential candidacy. For many this significance is tempered by the perception of Udval as very little more than a stand-in for Enkhbayar.
There seemed to be a near-consensus on the likelihood of an Elbegdorj win, though there was some discussion on the impact that turnout would have on the result, particularly whether the DP and MPP would be able to motivate their supporters to cast their votes when the campaign has been so quiet and the result seems to be pre-determined. The biggest caveat on these views is the TV debate that is scheduled for the evening of Monday, June 24, the very last hours of the campaign. There were some views that Elbegdorj has had a tendency towards emotional responses to criticisms in the past that might hurt him in a debate like this, but that Bat-Erdene also needs to urgently demonstrate presidential stature to overcome perceptions of a thin political CV. I learned about a joke that is circulating that compares Bat-Erdene and Elbegdorj in terms of their focus at important moments in Mongolia’s democratic history and notes poignantly that Bat-Erdene was mainly engaged in his wrestling rivalry with Munkh-Erdene at times when Elbegdorj was leading a democratic revolution or serving as prime minister.

 Suspicious Consensus

Yesterday I already noted that the seeming consensus on an Elbegdorj victory makes me somewhat suspicious. There is no real evidence in the form of polling or other research to conclude anything about relative vote shares, of course, even though many people (including myself) bandy about percentages as if we knew something concrete.
What are some scenarios that might see Elbegdorj loosing? There seems to be agreement that the MPP still is significantly stronger in many parts of the countryside. While the DP is no longer shout out of the country vote, there seems to be a continuing disparity of levels of support. This difference means that Elbegdorj has to win big in Ulaanbaatar but it is in the city where turnout might be the most likely to dip further from previous elections because of continuing voter registration issues, seasonal migrations, and a more blasé attitude to democracy among the young.
If a run-off does become necessary, then Elebgdorj is seen at a distinct disadvantage. Voting fatigue and proximity to Naadam may imply that only the most committed voters will participate and here Bat-Erdene might have an advantage as he gathers in Udval supporters.
As mentioned above, the TV debate could still throw a wrench in Elbegdorj’s re-election as well.
Given that any discussion about the election outcomes is speculative, it still does seem likely that Elbegdorj will be re-elected, but there are some scenarios that call that into question that are at least plausible.
Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Party Politics, Presidential 2013 | Leave a comment

1st Interim Report

[The title of the post is a bit of a pun, of course, as the OSCE election observation mission to Mongolia has been producing very substantial documents updating on their monitoring and these are entitled "Interim Report"]

Quiet Ulaanbaatar

I am amazed how quiet Ulaanbaatar is in terms of the election. In walking through central Ulaanbaatar yesterday, I have only come across a single campaign post around Sukhbaatar Square (which now has an insta-museum for the T.Baatar dinosaur skeleton), namely for Elbegdorj, fastened to the old building kittycorner from the SW corner of Sukhbaatar Sq that is owned by the DP. Yes, that is the lone visual evidence of the election campaign in the centre. Even the oh-so-grand MPP building does not have any campaign visual attached to the building in any way.
In front of the State Department Store I came across a lone DP propaganda ger that was staffed and offered campaign materials, but received no visiting passers-by in the brief period I observed.
My casual observation is echoed by the OSCE report (PDF), “The campaign has thus far been active but low-key. The visibility of candidates’ campaigns varies significantly in different parts of the country “.
I have not seen a single group of door-to-door canvassers. How are students earning extra money this June?

Any Views of the Campaign?

No one I’ve spoken to so far (I’ve only been in town for 40 hrs.) has voiced any excitement about the election. The assumption that Elbegdorj will win is a near-consensus, and few people seem to be expecting a run-off. Everyone has agreed that it’s been a fairly quiet campaign, though there were some campaign events in the city last weekend apparently.
Everyone has mentioned the recent round-about fraud allegations against Elbegdorj, but there also seems to be a near-consensus that these allegations are most likely a smear campaign, or what’s known here as “black campaign”. These allegations thus do not seem to be taken very seriously. I haven’t heard any particular discussion of the qualities of Bat-Erdene or Udval as alternatives to Elbegdorj and Udval seems to be generally and fairly easily dismissed by most people I’ve spoken to.
It’s surprising to see this kind of consensus given the uncertainties of all election campaigns. Presumably, everyone I have spoken to what invest heavily in Elbegdorj were there a campaign market of the kind that colleagues at UBC ran for the recent British Columbia provincial election, for example. I’ve given some thoughts to the idea to set some sort of voting market up in Mongolia, in part to balance the near-absence of polling and the absence of domestic exit polling. Note, however, that the election market got the BC election just as wrong as all the polls did.
However, the kind of consensus that I’m hearing here makes me a bit suspicious as to the impact it might have on voters. If this consensus is not limited to the tiny set of people that I’ve been speaking to, will we see voter participation drop? Can Elbegdorj supporters be motivated to make their way to polling stations on Wednesday? Will Bat-Erdene voters give up on their candidate? Will Udval supporters make a strategic choice and support Bat-Erdene to give him a chance or stick with Udval to possibly force a run-off? This latter question will be on to pay some attention to in media coverage, but also in any campaign events that I’ll manage to observe before Monday night.

Lack of Confidence in Electronic Counting: Past & Present Elections

The OSCE Interim Report describes a “charged atmosphere” due to concerns about the electronic counting machines. I have learned that it is part of the OSCE monitoring methodology that they do not compare an election to previous elections or elections in other jurisdictions, but on the matter of the choice of words of a “charged atmosphere”, I would have to disagree in part on the basis of having observed three previous national elections here. The most tense election I have monitored was clearly 2009, largely out of concerns about some kind of repeat of the riots of 2008. Despite this general worry, that election introduced few innovations in terms of the election law or the mechanics of voting, so that concerns of that nature were not very prevalent. The greatest disputes in terms of the organization of the election arose around voter registration that year.
By contrast, my sense is that the atmosphere was closer to “charged” last year in the run-up to the parliamentary election where a new voting system combined with the introduction of electronic counting and biometric identification cards all meant that the mechanics of voting changed quite a bit, leading to some confusion on the part of voters and officials about aspects of the vote. While electronic counting had been explicitly introduced as a confidence-building element to counter frequent and usually un-proven allegations of electoral fraud, it is not clear that this had the desired effect in 2012, at least not immediately following the election. However, the few manual recounts that were conducted produced results that were very close to the electronic counting and thus silenced some of the allegations of fraud without really seeming to produce an overall higher level of trust.
In the run-up to the current election, Bat-Erdene has been most vociferous in casting doubts on electronic counting and encouraging a greater number of manual recounts. I personally cannot really see what’s wrong with such recounts other than some administrative and logistical effort. Some kind of random selection of a reasonable number of polling stations to recount manually in days after the election could potentially build greater confidence in the results, assuming that the electronic counting was bourn out by the manual recount.

Glimpses of Campaign in the Media

Last night, I saw an ad that showed rapping youngsters pull out a voter information card telling them to vote on Wednesday. Clearly, this was a public service message to encourage voting aired under the auspices of the General Election Commission.
In this ad, I noticed that polling stations will be open 7-22h on June 26. If memory serves, they closed at 19h in previous elections and I imagine that this is an attempt to make voting easier and encourage more of it by offering longer hours. While it was common in 2008 (when many observers, including myself were not allowed to observe the counting of votes) and in 2009 for long lines to form in the last 30 minutes of voting and for voters to come rushing up to the doors just before they were closed, I saw less of this in 2012, though I also staid put in a single urban polling station last year to observe the end of voting and the count, so I have less of a sense of other stations and lines that may have formed. In any case, extended hours surely will encourage at least some additional votes which has to be a good thing.
Next, there was a campaign ad for Elebgdorj that prominently features coalition partners like the CWGP’s Oyun, and sports stars like Asashoryu and judo grappler Tuvshinbayar endorsing Elbegdorj. Individual statements included in the ad were too brief to be substantial beyond endorsement.
Posted in Civil Will Green Party, Democracy, Democratic Party, Elections, Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Party Politics, Politics, Presidential 2013, Public opinion | Tagged | Leave a comment

Back in Ulaanbaatar Town

Für Mongolei Nostalgiker…
After too long an absence, I’m back in Ulaanbaatar. Returning 1-3 times per year over the last eight years has given me time lapse glimpses of rapid developments in Ulaanbaatar.
At ULN, I was delighted to find a special lane in the immigration section dedicated to “Passengers with Children”. Everyone has separate lanes for their own nationals (something the U.S. started a long time ago, as far as I recall), but where do you see kids’ lanes?
This prompted me to start a hashtag: #ykyiMgl = you know you’re in Mongolia when…
I always find the drive in from Chinggis Khaan International Airport into town particularly poignant as lots of changes are observable along that route. This post just roughly follows the drive in from ULN as I was jotting down notes on the cell.
There is lots of new housing springing up right next to the airport now. That whole road has developed massively in the past eight years. My memory of first driving that road in 2005 was of pasture and darkness. Then gers started showing up, then khashaas were built. Now: sports palace, apartments, bus stops, etc. have been put in right up to the airport.
The road itself was going to be widened and construction started very suddenly last summer when I was here. Not much has happened since then, although there was some machinery seemingly at work on the road today.
Off the road I quickly saw the first polling station marked by the familiar red banners around the door announcing the date of the election as well as the number of the polling station. The Mongolian flag was fluttering on the rooftop.
You know that fenced-in long stretch of trees planted by the road? I think somewhere along the way it says that this is a Japanese-Mongolia development project. I swear the trees haven’t grown more than 25cm in the past eight years and they still look rather sad.
There is a giant addition to the British School of Ulaanbaatar going in along the road. Private school must be good business.
The American Center for Mongolian Studies had kindly arranged for me to be picked up. Soon enough, the driver turned on the radio to one of those moments when there is a long declamation set to a familiar Mongolian melody in the background. Ah, the sounds of Mongolia! Naturally, she was singing along to some songs later on.
Just before you cross the Tuul, there are some huge very colourful apartment blocks now. Interesting that most of the construction is going for colour on a brick-colour base, rather than the strange neo-classical styles or – even worse, I think – the strange giant buildings with pagoda-tops that you see in China. No ger-themed apartment designs yet, as far as I’ve seen.
Once past that bridge, traffic kicks in of course. What was meant to be a two-lane road when it was constructed in the state socialist period soon turns into a four-lane highway with much honking and swerving. Smiles all around.
BMWs seem to have arrived in some numbers, primarily X5. Lots of cars with many people piled in, including the preferred riding position for infants: on passenger lap riding shotgun. BUT also some child seats and fastened seat belts!
There are very few campaign posters on the drive into town; the election is much less visible than parliamentary election or even than what I remember from the presidential election four years ago.
The Bat-Erdene posters that I saw make no reference to the MPP while Elbegdorj posters include a stylized horse with the MPP flag. I have yet to see an Udval poster.
As we come into town, the traffic patterns have definitely changed around. Must be a consequence of the additional connections across the railroad and other new roads. For example, the building that houses my friends of the Mongolian National Olympic Committee used to sit somewhat majestically by that large traffic circule just across the railroad bridge from the centre of town (Peace Bridge, I think), but it is now increasingly surrounded by large apartment blocks and there is no more traffic circle, having been changed into a giant intersection. That in itself is also curious as more traffic circles are being set up in Vancouver, they’re disappearing in Ulaanbaatar. Are bike lanes next?
Posted in Curios, Society and Culture, Tourism, Ulaanbaatar, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Polling in UB One Week Before Election

Sant Maral has released a poll ahead of the presidential election that gives a glimpse of some of the tendencies in public opinion.
As of June 19, no more polling is allowed, so one week ahead of the election, this will be the only indication of possible outcomes we’ll have.


As I have done previously, I would caution that methodological challenges in administering these kinds of surveys in Mongolia (for example, the absence of some kind of baseline general social survey that would allow for a comparison of the survey respondents with the general population) makes this kind of poll suggestive of some tendencies, but no more.
From what I can tell from the report published by Sant Maral, this poll was limited to Ulaanbaatar further casting doubt on its utility as anything akin to a prediction of the election result.
But, a week before the election, this is the best information we have and much credit goes to L Sumati for conducting these kinds of polls.
At least, a sample of nearly 1,500 respondents in Ulaanbaatar sounds promising, though the report offers no information on the sampling methodology.

Candidate Choice

The most important information comes right at the outset, i.e. respondents intention to vote for one of the three candidates.
Percentages come out as 54% for Elbegdorj, 37% Bat-Erdene and 9% Udval.
Given DP strength in Ulaanbaatar, we’d expect him to do well with city voters, so this result suggests a victory by Elebgdorj, but perhaps a very closely won victory where a run-off is still a distinct possibility.

How Firm is Voters’ Commitment?

The poll suggests that commitment to Elbegdorj is higher than to Bat-Erdene or Udval  which might mean that we could still see some movements between those two, and possibly to Elbegdorj as well, in the final days of the campaign, though only 57% are “very confident” in the choice they made for the poll.

Run-Off, Participation, Issues and Voting Blocks

If we assumed something like 30% of voters to be living in Ulaanbaatar (it may be higher in population terms [check census], but many of those might not be registered in Ulaanbaatar and turnout will be greater in the countryside as well), Elbegdorj would have to do very well (close to 50%) in the countryside to win an outright majority of votes in the first round. To me, this poll doesn’t seem to settle my debate with Mendee regarding a run-off in previous posts (Me I, Mendee, Me II), other than to suggest that my original expectation for Udval to be garnering around 8% of the vote may hold roughly.
The 70% who stated that they would be voting on June 26 would be wonderful news in that this would be an increase over 2012, certainly in terms of participation in the city. If this holds true, it may also avoid the re-polling that will be necessary in polling stations where fewer than 50% of voters cast their ballots next week. Over ¾ of the respondents see the election as being fair or only facing minor problems. That is obviously good news in terms of voters’ confidence in the process and in democracy
If we look at issues that voters are focused on, it’s noticeable that the top two issues (standard of living and unemployment) are not particular subject to presidential powers or policy. The third issue, corruption, is one that Elbegdorj is certainly campaigning on.
As far as election platforms of the candidates go, over half of the respondents report no opinion on Udval’s platform suggesting that her communication or campaign has not been very effective on substance. The corresponding numbers for Bat-Erdene and Elebgdorj are around 1/3.
Surprisingly (to me) support for Udval is not heavily concentrated in older age groups, at least in Ulaanbaatar, while Bat-Erdene definitely receives more support among older voters.
As the first female candidate for president, Udval does seem to be drawing some women to vote for her, though primarily from Bat-Erdene who has a 5.4% differential between male and female voters, while Elbegdorj is supported more strongly by women than men, though only slightly. This suggests that Udval’s gender will have some impact, but may not really be producing the emergence of a women’s voting bloc of any kind.
Support for Elbegdorj increases with level of education while the reverse is true for Bat-Erdene. Voters who have received some higher education are clearly more supportive of Elbegdorj and the drop-off among Udval voters is high. Perhaps not surprisingly given her association with Enkhbayar and the MPRP, Udval’s support is strongest among the least economically well-off voters.

Posted in Democracy, Democratic Party, Elections, Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Party Politics, Politics, Presidential 2013, Public opinion, Ulaanbaatar | Tagged | Leave a comment

Elbegdorj Platform

[This post was researched and co-written by Brian White at The Mongolist blog.]
Previous posts have offered an overview over the three candidates’ platforms, as well as of their foreign policy goals.
Ten days before the election, President Ts Elbegdorj is considered the clear favourite. In the absence of further polls, this appears primarily based on the conventional wisdom that incumbents enjoy an advantage over challengers. In the case of the Mongolian presidency, it is difficult to say whether there is truly an “incumbency effect” given how few races there have been in the democratic era.

Previous Incumbents

N Bagabandi is the only incumbent to win two elected terms, but there have only been five elections since 1993. P Ochirbat served two terms, but one was an appointed term after the dissolution of the socialist government and the other through popular election under the current constitution. He lost his bid for a second elected term (third term overall) to Bagabandi. N Enkhbayar won his election in 2005 running against non-incumbents. Elbegdorj then played the spoiler defeating President Enkhbayar in 2009.
Whether there is any truth to the wisdom regarding incumbents in Mongolia, it does makes intuitive sense in the absence of other data. Elbegdorj already holds the office and has a proven track record, so voters know what they’re getting. He just has to show he has earned another term. His challengers, on the other hand, have to not only prove that they deserve a chance at the position but also that they have the experience and skills to do better than him.

 Five Broad Areas of Policy-Making

Elbegdorj’s platform is divided into five board policy areas: 1. rule of law, 2. local participation in solutions, 3. support for producers, 4. environmentally friendly development, and 5. internationally respect for Mongolia. Unlike his challengers’ platforms which take a more negative approach to framing issues, the president’s tone is positive and assertive focusing on areas of past success and future opportunities for improvement. Of course, as incumbent he is afforded the luxury of pointing to past successes to promote his qualifications, but he also must put a positive spin on his record in order to effectively argue that he deserves another term.

Rule of Law

“Rule of law” is an area the president has promoted in the past, and it is one area where he has constitutional authority to directly implement change. He gives it extensive treatment in his platform with 12 policy points under this section focusing on judicial reforms and fighting corruption. The president seems to envision establishing a legal culture and environment in the country that will elevate Mongolia to international democratic standards. The other candidates also discuss some of the same policy issues in this area such as promoting an independent judiciary or tackling corruption, but they are not bundled together as tightly as in the president’s platform.

Local Participation

The “local participation in governance” section includes proposals to devolve budget management further to local jurisdictions and to provide special administrative status to large towns and provincial capitals. Udval also touches on this area, but she only promotes the direct election of provincial and city governors.

Support for Producers

Under the “support for producers” section, he not only promotes government getting out of the way of “producers” but also specific policy reforms that will encourage small and medium-sized business growth. For example, he suggests strictly limiting state budget expenditures to domestic suppliers of goods or services whenever and wherever possible. Bat-Erdene also describes policies to support domestic production, but he focuses more on rural industries. Elbegdorj also includes policy ideas about managing the country’s mineral resources, but he does not mention Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi, or other strategic deposits by name, something that both his challengers do. The over all emphasis in this section is on creating a fair and competitive environment for investment and business in all industries.

 Environmentally Friendly Development

The “environmentally friendly development” section includes standard ideas about protecting the countries natural resources. There are also some unique policy suggestions around refining laws to protect the environment from extremely hazardous activities such as handling chemicals or toxic waste. Moreover, he goes out of his way to state flatly that Mongolia shall not become a dump for nuclear or other waste.

International Respect

The last area of the president’s platform, like the the rule of law section, is a place the president has a direct ability to actively influence policy. This section includes 14 policy points with several points focusing on Mongolia as a diplomatically active member of the international community. The president seems keen to promote his international prestige and his success as head of state. However, his policies in general are not significantly different from his challengers in several areas. Just like his challengers he supports a continuation of the country’s foreign policy stance vis-a-vis Russia, China, and “third neighbours,” programs aimed at reducing alcoholism, and engaging Mongolian ex-pats in other countries to encourage them to contribute to the country’s development.


Elbegdorj Campaign CrestThe look of Elbegdorj’s campaign website harkens back to his 2009 campaign which in itself was clearly inspired by the 2008 campaign by President Obama in the U.S. The most obvious marker here is the image of Elbegdorj himself here which is done in a style resembling that of the now iconic poster of President Obama.
Other than some cartoons that are interspersed into the listing of campaign foci, the webpage is quite text-heavy and very calm in its presentation, i.e. there are no moving parts or a twitter feed for example.


Elbegdorj’s campaign is clearly the campaign of an incumbent. Relying on his record as president that is not marred by any particular scandals, crises or major mistakes, Elbegdorj highlights areas in his election platform where he can point to his record, but also legitimately claim to have a further program. With these focus areas, he sticks closer to the areas where the president actually has some influence and power (judiciary, foreign policy) or where he has had concrete achievements (the establishment of citizens’ halls for local participation).
Posted in Democracy, Democratic Party, Elections, Foreign Policy, Governance, International Relations, Policy, Presidential 2013 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tweet-Up in Ulaanbaatar

I am inviting my Mongolian Twitter followers (and others interested) to meet in person on Friday, June 21st at 16:30h, at the American Center for Mongolian Studies in Ulaanbaatar (Rm 306, Center 34 Building, near Zanabazar Museum, location).
Topics I will be happy to discuss (auch auf Deutsch, 日本語でもいい):
  • this blog: areas we should write more about, analyses that we’ve got wrong, etc.
  • the election, of course
  • study in Canada, at the Univ of British Columbia, and in Asia Pacific Policy Studies
Posted in American Center for Mongolian Studies, Canada, International Relations, Politics, Presidential 2013, Research on Mongolia, Social Media, Ulaanbaatar | Tagged | 1 Comment

Odd Numbers of Arrows: The Abe-Udval Connection

When I looked at Udval’s campaign website for the first time, the photo of her holding a bundle of arrows jumped out at me immediately. Yes, she’s wearing a beautiful light-blue deel, but it’s the arrows that caught my attention.
These are the strange connections that occur to someone who focuses his research attention on Japan and Mongolia.

The Three Arrows of Mori Motonari

The economic reforms initiated by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo have been described by him and others as “Abenomics”. They consist of three specific reforms: 1. monetary policy, 2. fiscal policy, and private investment. Combined these three are meant to re-invigorate the Japanese economy by overcoming deflation and the general malaise associated with post-bubble Japan. Quartz offers a further explanation.
The image of the three arrows is significant and goes back to 16th century daimyo Mōri Motonari (毛利 元就) who is said to have encouraged his three sons to be united in strength by letting them compare the strength of one arrow (easily snapped) compared to three arrows bundled together. Fighting economic malaise is thus a task that requires a unified, multi-pronged strategy according to PM Abe.

The Five Arrows of Alun Gua

This legend is what I thought of when I saw the photo of Udval, but I was initially unsure what the Mongolian reference was (if any). Fortunately, crowdsourcing the Twitterverse came to my rescue when one of my followers, Maizorig, pointed me to a passage of the Secret History of the Mongols where the mythical matriarch Алун гуа (Alun Gua) offers the same fable as Lord Motonari to her five sons, namely that a single arrow is weak, but that a bundle of arrows is very strong. Tjalling Halbertsma of Groningen University had made the same connection to the legend of the matriarch.
It’s not clear to me whether Udval might have also chosen focus on the “five dangers” to Mongolia that she sees to reference this fable, but at least the photo on her website might evoke this.
The fable obviously is very attractive as a metaphor and I don’t know if anyone has looked at this parallel between Japan and Mongolia. I also have little knowledge of the special significance the numbers three and five may hold, other than being odd numbers.
While there are many ties between Japan and Mongolia (common linguistic roots, Sumo, development aid, exchange students, Mongolia as go-between for Japan and North Korea, etc.), I don’t think there are any particular affinities between Udval and Abe, nor would the five-arrows photo seem to be a direct reference to Abenomics.
Posted in Japan, Literature, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Presidential 2013 | Tagged | Leave a comment

2013 Presidential Candidates: Foreign Policy Proposals

With the election right around the corner, we thought it would be helpful to offer a brief comparison of the foreign policy proposals from the three candidates. Since setting foreign policy measures is one of the primary roles of the president as head of state, it is not only a pertinent topic, but one which the candidates can directly effect, should they choose.
(All information from official Mongolian-language action plans as found on official websites or Mongolian news sites, if I incorrectly translated anything, please do let me know).
For other posts on the respective platforms see
Ts. Elbegdorj – Democratic Party
Incumbent President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj’s action plan saves his foreign policy plans for the last of its 5 sections. The proposal is primarily concerned with Mongolia’s international image, probably in response to some notable scandals lately, including the money laundering issue, and perhaps even the one-sided reporting on Enkhbayar’s arrest last year.
The header to section 5 says that special attention will be paid to Mongolia’s international reputation, as well as the development of policies that strengthen the country’s security, independence, and autonomy. The predictable statements of developing multilateral and bilateral relations (5.1), and cooperating with neighbors and other countries (5.2) are referenced. Attention will be paid to Mongolia’s participation in the regional economy, infrastructure, and security apparatuses (5.3). Specific reference is made to Asia, the Pacific, and Europe (5.5), perhaps setting the parameters of Mongolia’s main geographic focus. He states that Mongolia is committed to strengthening human rights, rule of law, and transparency throughout the Asian continent, with specific attention to Northeast Asia (5.6), which further supports Mongolia’s identity as a Northeast Asian country, as opposed to Central Asian. Foreign and Domestic policy cross paths with reference to Mongolia’s cooperation with internationally backed health initiatives including those against alcoholism (5.8). Section 5.9 and 5.10 support the development of Mongolian studies internationally, although I am bit confused as to how exactly this would be done, and would suggest that it is in large part a concession to more nationalist-leaning voters. Section 5.12 is related, with a proposal to increase Mongolian participation in the in global arts and culture, as well as sports.

B. Bat-Erdene- Mongolian People’s Party
Candidate for the MPP, B. Bat-Erdene, makes significantly less focus on foreign policy issues. While foreign policy will undoubtedly be central to Mongolia’s economic, environmental, and physical security, the section of the action plan devoted specifically to foreign policy is significantly shorter than Elbegdorj’s proposal. He titles the section “It is the president’s responsibility to (to ensure) balanced and friendly foreign relations”.
The obligatory statement that government policy will continue Mongolia’s valued peaceful relations is first on the agenda (7.1). Mongolia’s dignity in the international community will be strengthened (7.2). He seems to place additional emphasis on relations with Mongolia’s neighbors by devoting a separate subsection to the issue (7.3), but he is still devoted to furthering Mongolia’s “third neighbor policy” (7.4). He calls for an integrated government foreign policy (7.5), which I find really odd, since Mongolia’s foreign policy has always seemed centralized and united. Like Elbegdorj, he also makes reference to supporting Mongolians abroad, which is likely in reaction to recent incidents against Mongolian citizens in China, but aimed at increasing voter participation in the Mongolian ex-pat community.

N. Udval- Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party
N. Udval, candidate for the MPRP, presents an action plan that differs significantly from the rest of the competition. As we saw in the 2012 Parliamentary elections, the MPRP is a largely reactionary party, and seeks broad reforms throughout the country coupled with a decidedly non-subtle appeal for resource nationalization. Foreign policy is covered in number 4 of her 5 action pillars. The MPRP showed an interesting play on numbers in 2012 by using the phrase шударга ёс (justice) coalition, while also presenting 9 candidates (ёс also being the Mongolian word for nine and numerologically significant as 3×3). This year, the party presents 5 policy pillars each with 5 subsections (organization a social scientist is happy to see, I dare say!). Oddly enough the section is not even labeled foreign policy/relations, but rather “Ways of protecting and strengthening national independence and the economy”.
She gets off to a classic enough start calling the enrichment of friendly relations with Russia and China as well as the expansion of the third neighbor policy (4.1). After that, however, the proposals become more specific and interesting than the broad proposals of the other two candidates. The next proposal (4.2) makes specific reference to the importance of access to international markets for landlocked countries, and that she will strive to enhance international cooperation on this front. Subsection 4.3 declares that foreign investment must be helpful and fair to the country, as well as stating that domestic investors should have the upper hand. This is pretty striking and rather odd, considering the still limited avenues available for domestic investors. Subsection 4.4 proposes the implementation of Mongolian majority ownership for strategic mineral resources, such as Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi. 4.5 calls for refurbishing rail and road links from Mongolia to Europe and Asia. This is certainly an important consideration and goes hand in hand with 4.2; however, I am unsure what effect this might have on rail links from OT into China/Russia, considering differing rail gauges and Russian joint-ownership of the Mongolian railway system.


Looking at these summaries and combining information from other posts on this blog, three important points come up.
1)    Mongolia has limited policy options. None of these proposals are particularly revolutionary when it comes to the basic tenants of Mongolian foreign policy. All three support continued good relations with Russia and China, balanced by support to the «third neighbor policy». No serious political party can possibly seek to upset relations with Russia or China as the country’s top economic partners, but no one wants to see a Mongolia economically or politically dominated by either or both neighors, necessiting the continued engagement of outside powers, regional and global.
2)    Most of the proposals are made to appeal to voters, not policy makers. By this I mean that for the most part the limited changes proposed seem to be aimed more at attracting voters with vague statements that change is necessary rather than meaningful policy measures. B. Bat-Erdene’s proposal calls for more consistency in policy measures, but I have yet to see any evidence of disjointed policy making from Ulaanbaatar. Rather this seems aimed at dicrediting Elbegdorj’s policies. N. Udval does make reference to some radical proposals (such as the nationalization of stategic resources and the role of domestic investors) that would change the Mongolian landscape significantly, but I can’t see anyway that as president she or her party could effectively implement such measures. The MPRP is in coalition with the DP for the time being, so nationalization is off the table, although some re-negotiation might be a possibility. The role of domestic investment is still limited in a country where the per capita GDP is just over $5,000. Rather, she seems keen to capitalize on the MPRP voter base, which has included a more nationalist-leaning segment of the population since its creation last year.
3)    Third parties make Mongolian politics more interesting. The status-quo DP and MPP are making far more moderate proposals than the MPRP, and while international investors might be worried about her proposals, it certainly does add a strong new voice to the political arena. Her approach is decidedly different, and the move for infrastructal integration and policies to mitigate the country’s landlocked status are laudable (although her role in these policies as president is limited). The MPRP got slightly over 20% of the vote last year, which is significant as a third party. I would certainly like to see some counter proposals by other thrid parties, such as the Social Democrats or the Civil Will, Green Party. While they might not want to waste resources on a campaign they cannot hope to win, new voices and action plans can certianly contribute to Mongolia’s political development.
Posted in Elections, Foreign Investment, Foreign Policy, International Relations, Nationalism, Politics, Presidential 2013 | Tagged | 5 Comments

Bat-Erdene Election Platform

[This post was researched and co-written by Brian White at The Mongolist blog.]
Bat-Erdene’s platform begins similarly to Udval’s by describing challenges facing the country. He does not go as far as Udval in labeling them as “dangers,” but the same message is being conveyed about the social and economic conditions in the country. He describes a divided government not meeting the needs of the people, a deteriorating natural environment, stagnant wages and high prices, disappointment in Oyu Tolgoi not living up to its promise, an unfair legal environment, and the lack of broad-based government policy.

Eight Responsibilities

The platform is divided into eight sections categorized by “responsibilities” the president has to the country. These are: 1. promote national unity, 2. lead a fair society, 3. promote correct economic policies, 4. implement policies that protect the environment and shore up the national wealth equally and fairly, 5. make the law and courts equally and fairly serve the people, 6. stabilize government employees’ working conditions to provide the people equal and fair services, 7. maintain balanced and friendly foreign relations, and 8. adhere to democracy and elevate the national character.
Within each section he outlines specific policy positions. There is significant overlap in policies with the other two candidates, but there are areas in which the platform is distinct. Under section three, for example, Bat-Erdene emphasizes support for agriculture and animal husbandry. Elbegdorj also outlines policies to support domestic industries but in much broader terms. Udval is more concerned with the social safety net and work conditions.

Mining Policy

Section four includes a promise to more aggressively manage environmental and mining policies. He supports reexamining all mining licenses and debating which projects benefit the country’s development (and presumably eliminating those that don’t) and establishing tough government control over those projects. Oyu Tolgoi is mentioned directly under its own policy position in this section with a call to improve the investment agreement to make it more profitable and balanced. Tavan Tolgoi is conspicuously absent in the any of the policies areas. Udval does include Tavan Tolgoi along with Oyu Tolgoi in areas concerning large strategic deposits, and Elbegdorj does not mention any of the large projects by name, only referring to the mining industry in general terms.
His choice of words is interesting with some policies in section two. Instead of saying “I support policy X,” he says “I support examining policy X.” Examples are reducing the cost of public transportation for the poor in Ulaanbaatar, reducing the costs of higher education, and creating services to support ex-military personnel. The way these issues are presented gives the impression of wanting to strike a populist chord without actually committing to any of them. Given the president’s limited ability to  implement specific policies one could argue that most positions taken in the platforms are empty promises, so equivocal statements with a positive tone stand out against the other unequivocal positions the president has little real power to implement.

Social Media and Images

Both, Bat-Erdene’s homepage as well as his election platform page display logos for Facebook and YouTube very prominently. They also include a Twitter feed. Interestingly, this feed displays messages from Bat-Erdene (fairly sparse), as well as messages that are tweeted at him or mention him. When I tweeted about this post, for example, my tweet showed up immediately on Bat-Erdene’s feed. Such an unfiltered stream means that – surprisingly – criticism as well as praise and random mentions show up on the campaign webpage.
Most of the images on the website show Bat-Erdene among large crowds of people, though they don’t particularly seem to play up his wrestling past or any claims to traditional values.
See also Bat-Erdene’s foreign policy platform.
Posted in Elections, Environment, Inequality, Judiciary, Mining, Mongolian People's Party, Oyu Tolgoi, Party Politics, Policy, Presidential 2013, Social Media | Tagged | Leave a comment

Foreign Policy Roundup: May 26-June 8, 2013

Here is the 2nd installment of our new bi-weekly series, the Foreign Policy Roundups. In every roundup, I offer a very brief 1-2 sentence  summary of foreign policy news, with a link to the original article. Most of the articles are from Mongolian-language sources. As a non-native Mongolian speaker, I welcome comments on any mistakes, especially if I incorrectly translated ministry names or other governmental institutions. I am still tinkering with the formatting, but trust that the new layout is a big step forward.

The Mongolian Ministry of Mining signed a memorandum with the French Geological Service on scientific and technological cooperation.
Minister of Mines, D. Gankhuyag made an official visit to Australia. During this trip, he discussed scholarship agreements for Mongolian students to study in Australia.
As Mongolia marked UN World Environment day, President Elbegdorj stressed Mongolia’s potential as a source of wind power, not just mineral resources.
CSIS ran an article on China’s impact on Mongolia’s resource policies.

Over the past several weeks, the E.U. has been investigating 5 counts of money laundering in Mongolia. One incident involved 5 transfers of 201,000 euro each to B. Davaadorj, Mongolia’s ambassador to Germany.

Mongolia decided to open new consulates in Jakarta, Pusan, and Hailar; plus, embassies in Brasilia, Kabul, Istanbul, and Bishkek.
Robert Reid, Country Director of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, was awarded the Mongolian presidential medal of friendship.
Presidential Advisor, R. Bold, received Baatar Ochirov, the Deputy of the Citizen’s Council of the Republic of Kalmykia. They exchanged opinions on topics ranging from education and economic development to Oirat history.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, L. Bold, met with Adriana Poveda, at the Mongolian Consulate in Madrid.
North Korea and Mongolia marked 65 years of diplomatic relations. 
Minister of Health, J. Amarsanaa, attended the WHO’s 66th annual meeting in Geneva.
May 27-29, Vice Minister of Foreign Relations D. Gankhuyag attended the Proliferation Security Initiative meeting in Warsaw, Poland. During the meeting, D. Gankhuyag met separately with the Polish and Belarusian representatives, to discuss bilateral diplomatic and economic relations.
Mongolia’s Ambassador to the European Union, Kh. Davaadorj, presented his credentials to the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.
The “Ulaanbaatar Declaration” announced at the 2013 Community of Democracies meeting has been adopted by the UN.

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