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On the Mongolian Campaign Trail

 
 

On July 7, Mongolian voters chose former judoka and business tycoon Khaltmaa Battulga as the country’s fifth president in the nation’s first ever runoff election. Battulga won 50.6 percent of the popular vote to beat his opponent, parliament speaker Miyeegombo Enkhbold of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party, in an election with a sparse 60.9 percent turnout.

The dramatic victory for the opposition party candidate from the Democratic Party followed a round of voting on June 26 in which none of the three candidates reached the necessary 50 percent to secure the presidency.

Below, The Diplomat’s Peter Bittner provides a first-hand look at the campaigning and voting in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, and Tov and Arkhanghai provinces.

On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party, depicted in a campaign banner, officially secured the presidency on July 8, according to data from Mongolia’s General Election Commission.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
Supporters waved flags at a rally on June 13 in Tetserleg, Arkhanghai province, cheering parliament speaker Miyeegombo Enkhbold of the Mongolian People’s Party.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
The Democratic Party’s Khaltmaa Battulga spoke at a closing campaign rally on June 24 in front of the nation’s parliament building in Sukhbaatar Square.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
Police apprehend an aggressive heckler during Battulga’s speech on June 24.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
A supporter exits a “propaganda yurt” advertising the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party’s candidate, Sainkhuugiin Ganbaatar, in Tetserleg, Arkhanghai. (Ganbaatar is pictured at left on the banner, next to former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar.)
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
A Mongolian woman in a traditional “deel” smiles outside a popular polling site, a public secondary school in Ulaanbaatar.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
An election worker helps a man check in to vote in the June 26 election, a contest between candidates representing the Mongolian People’s Party, the Democratic Party, and the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
Voters fill out ballots at booths in Ulaanbaatar on June 26.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
Favored candidate Enkhbold of the Mongolian People’s Party votes in the gymnasium of the 23rd National School in Ulaanbaatar while the media looks on and election officials observe.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
An election official inspects a voting machine in Zuunmod, Tov province, while a stack of traditional biscuits, Ul Boov, awaits voters.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
Sainkhuugiin Ganbaatar gives remarks to the media on June 26 after casting his ballot in Ulaanbaatar. Following his narrow defeat, Ganbaatar advocated filling out blank ballots in the runoff: if his two opponents had failed to achieve 50 percent a new round of candidates would have been called for yet another election in September.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
A woman casts her ballot at the 23rd National School in Ulaanbaatar on July 7.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
A worker on July 7 marks voters’ index fingers with indelible ink to deter voter fraud.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
Anchors Lhagva Erdene and Ariuntungalag Nyamjargal of Mongol TV present live reports on the election results late on July 7, 2017.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail
On July 8, the OSCE’s election observation team issued their findings following the runoff in a press conference in Ulaanbaatar. Their report was critical of the “legal uncertainty” surrounding the election’s second round but praised the “efficient manner” in which voting was administered.
Image Credit: Peter Bittner
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