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« WTO Public Forum Report | Main | Resource curse in US states »

July 11, 2008

Mongolia election violence-the resource curse strikes again?

Even the New York Times noticed the election violence in Mongolia, one of my favorite places and a country about which I wrote several articles in the 1990s.  After the ruling MPRP won a majority of seats in the recent parliamentary elections, the opposition cried foul and organized demonstrations.  Ensuing riots left five dead.

I've received mixed reports about whether there was indeed election fraud.  The Asia Foundation representative has been quoted in the international media asserting that the election was free and fair, on the basis of observations at some hundred precincts. But there were many more precincts at which there were no observers, and anyone interested in stealing an election would concentrate their efforts on districts at which international observers were unlikely. Still, it is hard to imagine that any fraud that did occur would reach a level sufficient to reverse the outcome, in which the MPRP won 45 out of 76 seats. It is hard to imagine the opposition gaining a majority of seats under the district based voting system--it has been consistently weak in the countryside in previous elections.

The structural causes of the confrontational politics may be related to the resource curse.  The recent discovery of massive mineral deposits has led to much higher stakes in the constitutional order--whoever controls the government during the next period will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of an agreement with the large mining firms.  Opportunities for corruption have expanded.  One fears the worst case scenario in which Mongolia ends up, again, a satellite of Russia in a new Putinism. 

--TG

July 11, 2008 | Permalink

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