Election spending to total 470 billion MNT

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        President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga met with the chairman and members of the General Election Commission of Mongolia (GEC) on April 28 to discuss the preparation for the upcoming election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

GEC members said that they had exchanged views with officials from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on State Structure, the government, State Emergency Commission, and the Ministry of Health to consult of organizing the elections during the COVID-19 pandemic and are making preparations under their legal obligations.

However, GEC members consider that there are some risks and a real threat. For instance, GEC member R.Sodkhuu said that the law states, “It is not possible to restrict the legal right given to candidates to conduct their election campaign, such as the distribution of newspapers and magazines to every household”. He considers this risky given the pandemic situation.  

GEC member O.Amgalanbaatar said that there are no estimations on elections spending, which is likely to increase as there have been no recommendations on organizing the elections to date.  

Moreover, candidates are legally allowed to hold their election campaigns and public meetings with voters and those rights should not be revoked to ensure fair competition, which is a matter of particular concern during the pandemic. 

President Kh.Battulga believes that during the pandemic, it is not possible to conduct the elections in the usual manner and that the GEC should openly discuss the concerning issues and submit them to the relevant authorities.

At the meeting, GEC members said that the 2020 parliamentary elections would likely require 470 billion MNT is state funding, which is 10 of times higher than the current spending for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

For instance, a preliminary estimation says that the highest number of candidates in history, or about 800, will compete in the 2020 parliamentary elections. According to the election expense survey conducted by the relevant organizations, if every candidate spends 474.4 million MNT (the average), total election campaign spending will reach more than 379.5 billion MNT.

Assuming that each of the 19 parties and coalitions that have applied to compete in the election spends at least five billion MNT each, this will add 95 billion MNT to campaign spending. The preliminary estimation shows that parties, coalitions, candidates will spend approximately 474 billion MNT on the election.

The president stressed that it is crucial to consider if it is appropriate to conduct elections by spending a large amount of money at this time when the people’s income is shrinking along and businesses face financial difficulties due to the global pandemic.

At the end of the meeting, they concurred to hold a multi-party meeting with participation of the relevant authorities on mitigating risks during the election, identify solutions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the election, and assess the situation realistically and draw conclusions.

Misheel Lkhasuren

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