The 2016 election and the next generation in Mongolia

Mongolia completed its 7th parliamentary elections on June 29th, with the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) taking a landslide victory with 65 of the 76 seats in the parliament. Not many had predicted the magnitude of the victory, even though the MPP was expected to win. Given the past four years of economic difficulties, many believed there would be a change from the existing ruling party. However, the reason such a large margin was able to swing towards the MPP was not limited to the economy. An important part that differentiated the two main parties was the ability to promote the next generation of leaders and representatives. This was extremely important because of the demographics of the young democracy in Mongolia. Currently the Mongolian population of a little over 3 million, is comprised of mostly young people, with 65.28% under the age of 35 based on a 2013 consensus. At least one third of the voting population was under the age of 35 in the 2016 election, with most of them having access to social media. Therefore, as the proportion of young people increased in Mongolia, the ability to put forward young, capable and educated candidates was the key difference in this election.

One way that the MPP connected to the youth was by nominating candidates that are young themselves, with representation from the party’s youth union and student union. Given that these unions are comprised of mostly young adults, the use of Facebook and Twitter was instrumental. This allows social and general media to have an influence on the voters’ decision and also give transparent information to the general population. As one scrolls through status updates of Facebook and Twitter, many of the tweets and posts are about the elections and politicians. Politicians and social media users are continuously using these platforms to send their message in order to show that they can interact with the young generation. While one user defends certain legislation on one feed, the other attacks. Twitter and Facebook have become the major outlets of politicians and political parties in Mongolia, with the volume of tweets ranging from 60,000 to 88,000 from the most prolific users. Put differently, if you divide this by the 4 years of a parliamentary term, the result is an average of 41 tweets a day.

Mongolia, at its beginning of democracy, had the option in the early 1990’s to gravitate towards the old ways, but instead moved towards a democratic system with many young parliamentary members who were in their twenties. However, in the more recent elections the representation of young people was diminished. A strong negative correlation resulted when the number of young people increased but the representation by young people decreased. This trend has now hopefully stopped with the success of the MPP candidates in this election including a winner of one of the seats, a young man who is 29. Now that the parliament has a few younger representatives again, the key question will be can this trend continue going forward?

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