Photo Essays | Politics | East Asia

On the Mongolian Campaign Trail

An on-the-ground look at campaigning and voting in Mongolia’s tight presidential race.

Peter Bittner
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.

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.

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.

Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail

Police apprehend an aggressive heckler during Battulga’s speech on June 24.

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.)

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.

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.

Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail

Voters fill out ballots at booths in Ulaanbaatar on June 26.

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.

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.

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.

Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail

A woman casts her ballot at the 23rd National School in Ulaanbaatar on July 7.

Credit: Peter Bittner
On the Mongolian Campaign Trail

A worker on July 7 marks voters’ index fingers with indelible ink to deter voter fraud.

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.

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.

Credit: Peter Bittner

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.