Looking at the results of Mongolia’s 2012 Parliamentary elections, everyone wants to know with whom the Democratic Party will ultimately form a coalition. Before Naadam, the Democratic Party officially announced that it would be looking into the possibility of a coalition with the MPRP-MNDP. As one of only 2 other parties holding enough seats to give the DP a majority, MPRP-MNDP is certainly a statistically viable partner. Indeed, it seems the partnership only makes sense numerically.
Politically it is hard to imagine two more different parties in the Mongolian political spectrum. Enkhbayar’s Justice Coalition (MPRP-MNDP) ran on a distinctly populist platform pushing for more government control over the economic system as a way of battling economic inequality. But don’t let this confuse you. This is not about the kind of government reform that many of us are pushing for in the US and other developed countries. This is a policy made to play off irrational fears of foreign companies and even the entrenched anti-Chinese feelings that many Mongolians harbor. It is a party that has the potential to derail foreign investment and negatively impact Mongolian economic development.. In addition, its controversial leader, N. Enkhbayar, also makes the party a less-than-welcomed ally to the DP. Voters that support the DP are likely not to approve of a coalition with the MPRP-MNDP. They voted for the liberal economics and human rights supporting policies of the DP. What is even more worrisome (at least to me) is the potential political strength that such a coalition would give the “Justice Coalition”.
As part of the political bargaining process, the MPRP-MNDP will be granted a number of ministerial positions in exchange for their support to a DP Prime Minister. Mongolia, like many countries, appoints ministers on a political basis. Professional capacity does not seem to be a pre-requisite. And this brings me to my point: the political appointment of ministers does not support real institutional development, but is an impediment to that process. If Mongolia wants its ministries to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible, the heads of these institutions cannot be temporary political appointments. It seems to me to be an “issue of genre”, by which I mean that it is an issue of specialty. Is it so radical to expect that the head of the Ministry of Education, to take one important example, be an expert in education policy?
Of course, I recognize that this is a common practice, and the posts for the US government’s various departments are political appointments as well. Indeed, in some cases these appoints seem to work well. Hilary Clinton, for example, is possibly the best Secretary of State the US has ever had. Still, I can’t help but think that we need a reordering of political business as usual. In the case of Mongolia, I am sure that DP voters, which represent the majority in this past election, are uneasy with the appointment of MPRP-MNDP ministers. The final coalition remains to be determined, and the DP might ultimately form a coalition with CWGP and some select MPPs that might choose to the cross the floor. Still, the problematic nature of political appointments remains.
For Mongolian language news on the appointment of ministers please go to:
Analysis, Thoughts, Ideas
This blog will be an online publishing site for smaller analytical projects, news stories that I find relevant to small state foreign policy and indigenous autonomy, as well as a testing ground for new ideas and new projects that I may pursue.