An Analysis of Election Fairness

The last parliamentary election in 2012 introduced a proportional system of allocating 28 of 76 seats in parliament. These seats were filled based on the proportion of votes each party received nationally using a ranked list of candidates selected by each party. The threshold for selecting from a list was a party receiving at least 5 percent of the vote. The remaining 48 seats where allocated through popular elections in 26 districts. The primary justification for introducing the hybrid proportional-popular election system was to make elections fairer by reducing the representative imbalance between Ulaanbaatar and rural districts. Ulaanbaatar districts were under-represented and rural districts were over-represented in the allocation of seats in previous parliaments. Moreover, the Democratic Party (DP) was seen as being more popular in Ulaanbaatar districts and therefore at a disadvantage to the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) which was seen as more popular in rural districts. There was some truth in these perceptions, but did the hybrid system increase fairness in the elections?

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Examining Mongolia's Debt

Speaker of Parliament Z. Enkhbold recently provided another tweet worth examining in detail. He posted a graph showing "Total debt-to-GDP ratios in select countries." Mongolia was not one of the select countries in the graph, and the Speaker facetiously noted that "It seems we have no debt." At least I hope he was being facetious, because the truth is quite the opposite.

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Final Verdict: 'UB Cold' or 'Winter-Schminter'?

In January I examined whether winter temperatures to that point were above or below average (see here). I compared this winter's temperatures to the historical averages, as well as the first winter I spent in Mongolia in 2002-03.1 The verdict at that time was this winter was above average and hardly representative of what one might call "Ulaanbaatar cold." Enduring that kind of cold allows one to claim a level of badassery usually reserved for mountain men or Arctic explorers. It's a pride thing, so knowing where a winter fits into the historical record is extremely important. Now that winter is finally over, I have gone back to the data to see if this winter was able to turn things around in the miserably cold department.

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The Jenga Economy

JengaThe domestic economy is more complex than it was just a few years ago. It is more integrated with international markets and more layered with wealth generating opportunities. It has broadened substantially, and as a result, it has taken longer than in the past for problems to be widely felt in the economy. It has also taken longer for a sense of urgency to take hold at the political and policy-making level about the need to fix the problems. Still, the signs have been there, and for those watching the indicators closely, it has been like watching an economic game of Jenga.

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The Tugrik is Following Its Own Path

Speaker of Parliament Z. Enkhbold recently tweeted an observation (see original tweet below) that seemed like an attempt to put the continuing depreciation of the Tugrik against the US Dollar in perspective. He posted a link to a Wall Street Journal article (here) about the Chinese Yuan experiencing a 0.9 percent decline in value against the Dollar since the beginning of the year. He then noted that "the Tugrik is not alone in its fall." The subtext of the tweet seemed to be that recent, sustained declines in the value of the Tugrik have been due to outside economic forces, which are also affecting the Chinese currency, rather than the result of domestic politics or economic policy over the last 12-18 months. But, there is a significant problem with his observation: magnitude.

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