PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER AND LEGISLATURE OF MONGOLIA

PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER OF MONGOLIA

Power is divided between the President (elected by popular vote) and the Prime Minister (elected by Parliament). The presidency is much weaker than its American counterpart. The prime minister runs the government but the president can veto laws and Cabinet appointments. This set up has led to deadlocks when the president belongs to of one party and the parliament and the prime minister belong to another party.

The president is the head of state, commands the military forces, appoints the prime minister and enacts laws. He can initiate policy, refuse cabinet nominations and veto laws and parliamentary decisions. But a two-thirds majority of the legislature can force measures through without the head of state's approval. [Source: AFP, April 14, 2012, Dr. Julian Dierkes, Institute of Asian Research, UBC, June 1 2009]

The President is the largely ceremonial head of state and symbol of national unity.

Constitutionally, the president is limited to a passive aggressive role of vetoing personnel nominations proposed by the prime minister and laws ratified by the Ikh Khural. Members of the Supreme Court are appointed for six year terms by the president.

The president is elected every four years, by a direct, nation-wide popular vote, a year after the parliament elections. There are direct elections for the president. He or she needs more than 50 percent of the vote to win. If that fails to occur. A run off is held with the top two vote-getters in the first round of elections. The president can serve a maximum of two terms. Presidential candidates are nominated by political parties represented in State Great Hural. The last election last held on June 26, 2013. The next one is June 2017. The 2013 presidential election results: Tsakhia Elbegdorj was elected president with 50.2 percent followed by Badmaanyambuu Bat-erdene with 42 percent, Natsag Udval with 6.5 percent, and others, 1.3 percent

Chief of state: President Tsakhia Elbegdorj (since 18 June 2009); head of government: Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg (since 21 November 2014); Deputy Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh (since 9 December 2014). [Source: CIA World Factbook =]

The cabinet is nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the president and confirmed by the State Great Hural (parliament). following legislative elections, leaders of the majority party or a majority coalition usually elect the prime minister of the State Great Hural. The prime minister changes frequently and minister are often fired. The Cabinet in 2004 had 17 members.

The Prime Minister and the President get much of the country in a Russian-made M18 helicopter. They also have used it to make campaign trips.

Powers of President and According to the Mongolian Constitution

The section of the Constitution of Mongolia pertaining to the President reads: Article Thirty 1) The President shall be the Head of State and embodiment of the unity of the Mongolian people. 2) An indigenous citizen of Mongolia, who has attained the age of forty-five years and has permanently resided as a minimum for the last five years in Mongolia, shall be eligible for election to the post of President for a term of four years.

Article Thirty one: 1) Presidential elections shall be conducted in two stages. 2) Political parties which have obtained seats in the State Ikh Khural shall nominate individually or collectively Presidential candidates, one candidate per party or coalition of parties. 3) At the primary stage of the elections citizens eligible for election shall participate in electing the President on the basis of universal, free and direct suffrage by secret ballot. 4) The State Ikh Khural shall consider the candidate who has obtained a majority of all votes cast in the first voting round as elected President and shall pass a law recognizing his/her mandate. 5) If none of the candidates obtains a majority vote in the first round, a second round of voting shall take place involving the two candidates who have obtained the largest number of votes in the first round. The candidate who wins a majority of all votes cast in the second ballot shall be considered as elected President and a law recognizing his/her mandate shall be passed by the State Ikh Khural. 6) If neither of the candidates wins a majority of votes in the second ballot, Presidential elections shall be held anew. 7) The President can be re-elected only once. 8. The President shall not be Prime Minister, a member of the State Ikh Khural or a member of the Government and shall not concurrently hold any other posts and pursue any occupation not relating to his duties assigned by law. If the President holds another office or a post he/she shall be relieved of it from the date on which he/she takes his/her oath.

Article Thirty two: 1) The mandate of the President shall become effective with an oath taken by him/her and shall expire with an oath taken by the newly elected President. 2) Within 30 days of the election the President shall take the following oath before the State Ikh Khural: "I swear that I shall guard and defend the independence and sovereignty of Mongolia, the freedom of the people and national unity and I shall uphold and observe the Constitution and faithfully perform the duties of the President".

Article Thirty three: 1) The President shall exercise the following power: 1)) to exercise a right to veto against all or part of laws and other decisions adopted by the State Ikh Khural. The laws or decisions shall remain in force if two thirds of the members of the State Ikh Khural present in the session do not accept the President's veto; 2)) to propose to the State Ikh Khural the candidature for the appointment to the post of Prime Minister nominated from the majority party or coalition in the State Ikh Khural; if none of them has a majority a candidate nominated from the party/coalition which has the largest number of seats in consultation with other parties; if such party fails to propose a candidate on consultation with other parties, the candidate who has received the majority of votes from parties and the coalition which sits in the State Ikh Khural within 5 days /amendments from 24 December 1999 and 14 December 2000/ 3)) to instruct the Government on issues within his/her power. If the President issues a relevant decree it shall become effective upon signature by the Prime Minister; 4)) to represent the State with full power in foreign relations and, in consultation with the State Ikh Khural, to conclude international treaties on behalf of Mongolia; 5)) to appoint and recall heads of plenipotentiary missions to foreign countries in consultation with the State Ikh Khural; 6)) to receive the Letters of Credence or Recall of Heads of diplomatic missions of foreign states to Mongolia; 7)) to confer state titles and higher military ranks and award orders and medals; 8)) to grant pardons;

9)) to decide matters related to granting and withdrawing Mongolian citizenship and granting asylum; 10)) to head the National Security Council of Mongolia; 11)) to declare general or partial conscription; 12)) to declare a state of emergency or martial law on the whole or a part of the national territory and order the deployment of armed forces when emergency circumstances described in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Article 25 of the Constitution arise and the State Ikh Khural concurrently is in recess. The State Ikh Khural within 7 days shall consider the Presidential decree declaring a state of emergency or martial law and shall approve or disapprove it. If the State Ikh Khural does not make a decision on the matter, the Presidential decree shall be void. 2) The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Mongolia. 3) The President may address messages to the State Ikh Khural and/or to the people, he/she may at his/her own discretion attend sessions of the State Ikh Khural, report on and submit proposals concerning vital issues of domestic and foreign policies of the country. 4) Other specific power may be vested in the President only by law.

Article Thirty four 1) The President within his/her power shall issue decrees in conformity with law. 2) If a Presidential decree is incompatible with law, the President himself/herself or the State Ikh Khural shall invalidate it.

Article Thirty five: 1) The President shall be responsible to the State Ikh Khural. 2) In case of a violation of the Constitution and/or abuse of power in breach of his oath, the President may be removed from his post on the basis of the findings of the Constitutional Court by an overwhelming majority of members of the State Ikh Khural present and voting.

Article Thirty six 1) The person, residence and transport of the President shall be inviolable. 2) Dignity and immunity of the President shall be protected by law.

Article Thirty seven l) In the temporary absence of the President his/her full power shall be exercised by the Chairman of the State Ikh Khural. 2) In the event of the resignation, death or voluntary retirement of the President his/her full power shall be exercised by the Chairman of the State Ikh Khural pending the inauguration of the newly elected President. In such a case the State Ikh Khural shall announce and hold Presidential elections within four months. 3) The procedure of exercising the duties of President by the Chairman of the State Ikh Khural shall be determined by law.

Executive Branch in Communist Mongolia the 1980s

The Council of Ministers was the "highest executive and administrative agency of state administration." Under Article 42 of the 1960 Constitution, this body is composed of a chairman--or premier, a first deputy chairman, five other deputy chairmen, ministers, chairmen of the state committees, the chairman of the State Bank of the Mongolian People's Republic, the president of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and the head of the Central Statistical Board. In the 1980s, the deputy chairmen regularly included the chairmen of the State Planning Commission; the State Committee for Construction, Architecture, and Technical Control; and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) Affairs. In 1986 the Council of Ministers was composed of thirty-three members. [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

Members of the Council of Ministers also were party members or candidate members. In 1989 Dumaagiyn Sodnom, a full member of the party Political Bureau, was chairman of the Council of Ministers, making him de facto premier. The principal responsibilities of the Council of Ministers in the late 1980s were to coordinate and to direct the work of the ministries; to supervise national economic planning and to implement the national plan; to exercise general direction over foreign relations and defense matters; to take measures for the defense of state interests and the concept of socialist ownership; to ensure public order; and to direct and to guide the work of aymag and somon executive administrations. *

A general ministerial reorganization was carried out in 1987 and 1988 during which 3,000 administrative positions were abolished--reportedly, a significant saving of funds. In December 1987, the Mongolian press announced the dissolution of six ministries and two state committees and the subsequent formation of five new ministries. These efforts to streamline the government structure and to make it more efficient continued into January 1988, when six state committees and special offices were dissolved and two new state committees were formed. In general this reorganization resulted in the performance of certain functions by separate ministries or in the subsuming of several committees under the mission of one. For example, the responsibilities for agriculture and the food industry, previously handled by two separate ministries, were combined in the new Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry. The newly established Ministry of Environmental Protection indicated Mongolia's recent and growing concern over one of its most intractable problems: the protection and renewal of the national environment. *

There was no formally constituted permanent civil service to staff government positions. Party organizations were paramount in the selection and assignment of civil servants. The party decided which person was suited to what kind of work on the basis of individual loyalty, honesty, political consciousness, knowledge of relevant tasks, and organizational abilities. *

Legislature of Mongolia

The Mongolian parliament is called the Great Hural. It has 76 seats. Thirty-nine votes are needed to form a majority. In the Soviet era, the Great Hural had 430 seats. There was a Little Khural, which was abolished by 1992 constitution.

Legislative branch: unicameral State Great Hural or Ulsyn Ikh Khural (76 seats; 48 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 28 directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms). [Source: CIA World Factbook =]

The parliament that served between 2000 and 2004 met 20 times for regular and irregular sessions, held 233 plenary meetings, amended or revived 442 laws, and approved 109 international agreements and conventions.

The Parliament is led by a Parliamentary Speaker. According to law he or she is nominated by the party or coalition with the majority seats and then voted on by the members of the parliament. If there is no majority then the party with the most seats selects a candidate with consensus from other parties and coalitions. The parliament is often divided by parties and factions. The ruling Party of Mongolia must form a new Cabinet within 14 days under Mongolian law.

Legislative elections are held every four years a year before the presidential elections. The last held on 28 June 2012 (next to be held in June 2016). Results from the 2012 election results; seats by party - DP 33, MPP 27, Justice Coalition 11, independent 3, CWGP 2. Four seats were determined after the election; 2 DP candidates gained seats when winning MPP candidates were determined to have broken electoral law; candidates in 2 other constituencies did not receive the necessary 28 percent of the vote to be elected, and MPP candidates won both seats in repolling; seats by party as of May 2015 - DP 35, MPP 26, Justice Coalition 10, independent 3, CWGP 2. =

Duties of the Legislature According to the Mongolian Constitution

The section of the Constitution of Mongolia pertaining to the legislature reads: Article Twenty: The State Ikh Khural of Mongolia is the highest organ of State power and the legislative power shall be vested solely in the State Ikh Khural. Article Twenty one: 1) The State Ikh Khural shall have one chamber and consist of 76 members. 2) The members of the State Ikh Khural shall be elected by citizens eligible for election, on the basis of universal, free, direct suffrage by secret ballot for a term of four years. 3) Citizens of Mongolia who have reached the age of twenty-five years and are eligible for elections shall be elected to the State Ikh Khural. 4. The procedure of the election of members of the State Ikh Khural shall be determined by law.

Article Twenty two: l) If extraordinary circumstances arising from sudden calamities occur in the whole or a part of the country, the imposition of martial law or the outbreak of public disorder prevent the holding of regular election the State Ikh Khural shall retain its mandate until the extraordinary circumstances cease to exist and the newly elected members of the State Ikh Khural are sworn in. 2) The State Ikh Khural may decide on its dissolution if not less than two thirds of its members consider that the State Ikh Khural is unable to carry out its mandate, or if the President, in consultation with the Chairman of the State Ikh Khural, proposes to do so for the same reason. In case of such a decision, the State Ikh Khural shall exercise its mandate till the newly elected members of the State Ikh Khural are sworn in. Unless otherwise specified in the Constitution, the State Ikh Khural shall decide on its dissolution or the President shall issue a decree on the dissolution of the State Ikh Khural if the State Ikh Khural fails to appoint a Prime Minister within 45 days from the submission of the proposal of his/her appointment to the Ikh Khural. /amendments from 24 December 1999 and 14 December 2000/.

Article Twenty three: 1) A member of the State Ikh Khural shall be an envoy of the people and shall represent and uphold the interests of all the citizens and the State. 2) The mandate of a member of the State Ikh Khural shall begin with an oath taken before the State Emblem and expire when newly elected members of the State Ikh Khural are sworn in.

Article Twenty four: 1) Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the State Ikh Khural shall be nominated and elected from among the members of the State Ikh Khural by open ballot. Each party and coalition group formed as a result of election shall elect the Vice-Chairman of the State Ikh Khural. /amendments from 24 December 1999 and 14 December 2000/ 2) The term of office of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the State Ikh Khural shall be four years. They can be relieved of or removed from their posts before the expiry of their terms on grounds specified by law.

Powers of the Legislature According to the Mongolian Constitution

Article Twenty five: 1) The State Ikh Khural may consider on its initiative any issue pertaining to domestic and foreign policies of the State, and shall keep within its exclusive power the following issues and decide thereon: 1) to enact laws, make amendments to them; 2) to define the basis of the domestic and foreign policies of the State; 3) to set and announce the date of elections of the President and the State Ikh Khural and its members; 4) to determine and change the structure and composition of the Standing Committees of the State Ikh Khural, the Government and other bodies directly accountable to it according to the law; 5) to pass a law recognizing the full mandate of the President after his/her election and to relieve or remove the President;

6) to appoint, replace or remove the Prime Minister, members of the Government and other bodies responsible and accountable to the State Ikh Khural as provided for by law; 7) to define the State's financial, credit, tax and monetary policies; to lay down the guidelines for the country's economic and social development; to approve the Government's program of action, the State budget and the report on its execution; 8) to supervise the implementation of laws and other decisions of the State Ikh Khural; 9) to fix the State frontier; 10) to set the structure, composition and power of the National Security Council; 11) to approve and change the administrative and territorial division of Mongolia on the Government submission; 12) to determine the legal basis of the system, organization and activities of local selfgoverning and administrative bodies; 13) to institute State titles, orders, medals and higher military ranks, to determine the table of ranks in some special fields of State service;

14) to issue acts of amnesty; 15) to ratify and denounce international treaties to which Mongolia is a Party, to establish and sever diplomatic relations with foreign States on the Government submission; 16) to hold national referenda. To verify the validity of a referendum in which the majority of citizens eligible for election has taken parts, and to abide by and give effect to the decision which has obtained a majority of votes; 17) to declare a martial law in case the sovereignty and independence of the State are threatened by armed actions on the part of a foreign State, and to rescind it; 18) to declare a state of emergency or martial law in the whole or part of the country in special circumstances described in paragraph 2 and 3 of this Article and to approve or nullify the President's decree to that effect.

2) Under the following extraordinary circumstances the State Ikh Khural may declare a state of emergency to eliminate the consequences thereof and to restore the life of the population and society to normalcy: 1) natural disasters or other unforeseen dangers which threaten or may threaten directly the life, health, well-being and security of the population in the whole or a part of the country's territory; 2) if State authorities are not able within legal limits to cope with public disorders caused by organized, violent, illegal actions of an organization or a group of people threatening the Constitutional order and the existence of the legitimate social system. 3) The State Ikh Khural may declare martial law if public disorder in the whole or a part of the country's territory result in armed conflict or create a real threat of armed conflict, or if there is armed aggression or a real threat of such aggression from a foreign state. 4. The other power, organization and the procedures of the State Ikh Khural shall be determined by law.

Legislative Sessions and Making Laws in Mongolia

Article Twenty six 1) The President, members of the State Ikh Khural and the Government shall exercise the right to initiative laws. 2) Citizens and other organizations shall forward their suggestions on draft laws to those entitled to initiate a law. 3) National laws shall be subject to official promulgation by the State Ikh Khural through publication and, unless law provides otherwise, shall enter into force 10 days after the date of publication.

Article Twenty seven 1) The State Ikh Khural shall exercise its power through its sessions and other organizational forms. 2) Regular sessions of the State Ikh Khural shall be convened once every half year and last not less than 50 working days. /amendments from 24 December 1999and 14 December 2000/ 3) Extraordinary sessions may be convened at the demand of more than one third of the members of the State Ikh Khural or at the initiative of the President and the Chairman of the State Ikh Khural. 4. The President shall convoke the first sessions of the State Ikh Khural within 30 days of an election. Other sessions shall be convoked by the Chairman of the State Ikh Khural. 5. In case of the proclamation by the President of a state of emergency or martial law, the State Ikh Khural shall be convened for an extraordinary session within 72 hours without prior announcement. 6. The presence of a majority of members shall be required to consider a session of the State Ikh Khural and Standing Committee valid, and decisions shall be taken by the majority voting of all members present. The Prime Minister's and Government members’ appointment and other issues shall be decided by open ballot unless other laws provide otherwise. /amendments from 24 December 1999 and 14 December 2000.

Article Twenty eight 1) The State Ikh Khural shall have Standing Committees dealing with specific fields of its activity. 2) The State Ikh Khural shall determine the power, organization and procedures of the work of Standing Committees.

Article Twenty nine l. Members of the State Ikh Khural shall be remunerated from the State budget during their term and shall not hold concurrently any posts and employment other than those assigned by law except for the post of Prime Minister and member of Government. /amendments from 24 December 1999and 14 December 2000/ 2. The legal immunity of members of the State Ikh Khural shall be protected by law. 3) Questions concerning the involvement of a member of the State Ikh Khural in a crime shall be considered by the session of the State Ikh Khural, which shall decide whether to suspend his/her mandate. If a court rules the member in question to be guilty of crime, the State Ikh Khural shall terminate his/her membership in Legislature.

Mongolian Legislature in the Soviet Era

In the Soviet era, the unicameral People's Great Hural is described in the Constitution as "the highest agency of state power in the Mongolian People's Republic." It was assigned exclusive legislative power for the country by Article 19.The Eleventh People's Great Hural, elected in July 1986, had 370 deputies as determined by a constitutional amendment in 1981. Of the 370 elected deputies, nearly 89 percent were party members or candidate members; 28 percent, industrial workers; 28 percent, agrarian cooperative members; and 44 percent, intellectuals and bureaucrats. Also, 25 percent of the deputies were women, and 67 percent were elected for the first time. Finally, deputies were afforded special protection in that they may not be arrested or brought to trial without the consent of the Hural or its Presidium. [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

Deputies served four-year terms, and they were elected from districts divided equally according to population. The slate of candidates presented, however, required party review and approval well in advance of the election. Candidates were proposed by trade unions, farm organizations, youth and party organizations, and other social organizations. Before election day, usually in June, the names of candidates for these constituencies were published in the press. Registered electors could vote for one registered candidate by placing an unmarked ballot bearing the candidate's name in the ballot box. To vote against a candidate, an elector had to strike the candidate's name from the ballot. *

It was estimated that 33 percent of the deputies-- representing the party and state leadership--were reelected after each term. Not surprisingly, a high proportion of the elected deputies were party members or candidate members. There also was a noticeable trend reflecting the gradual urbanization of the country, as shown in the 1979 Mongolian census figures. Press coverage of results usually reported 99.98 percent turnout, in favor of the official candidates. *

The People's Great Hural, which conveneds once a year, elected its officers, including a chairman (speaker) and four deputy chairmen. It selected standing commissions (budget, legislative proposals, nationality affairs, and foreign affairs), and it elected the Presidium. Constitutional powers accorded to the People's Great Hural included amendment of the constitution; adoption of laws; formation of the Council of Ministers; and confirmation of ministers, the national economic plan, and the budget. In 1989 the deputy chairmen were the president of the Presidium, an army officer, a woman, and, to show recognition of minorities, a Kazakh. *

Ten permanent committees assisted in specialized areas of government work: industry; environmental protection; construction; youth affairs; budgets and planning; transportation and communications; labor resources; agriculture; trade and services; and health, education, culture and scientific affairs. Also, the People's Great Hural was given powers to establish "the basic principles and measures in the domain of internal and foreign policy" and to decide "questions of peace and defense of the socialist motherland." In practice, however, authority in the fields of foreign and domestic affairs was exercised regularly by the chairman of the Presidium and the minister of foreign affairs. By a constitutional amendment in November 1980, the People's Great Hural is charged with forming the state's People's Control Committee that heads a system of agencies "which shall incorporate state and social control of the working people at enterprises, institutions, organizations, and agricultural associations." *

Although legislative power was concentrated in the People's Great Hural, the right of legislative initiative is accorded to several bodies. They included the Presidium, the Council of Ministers, deputies and standing commissions of the People's Great Hural, the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Procurator of the Republic (see Justice System). In addition, legislation could an be introduced by youths and workers through the Central Committee of the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League and the Central Council of Mongolian Trade Unions.

The Presidium of the People's Great Hural was the "highest agency of state power" presiding in the interval between legislative sessions. In 1989 the chairman of the Presidium, Batmonh, was the de facto president of Mongolia. Other Presidium officers included a deputy chairman, a secretary, and five members representing trade unions (two persons for this category), youth, women, and a key party department (either the cadres administration or foreign relations department). The principal powers of the Presidium include formation, abolition, and reorganization of ministries; appointment of ministers and ambassadors; ratification or denunciation of treaties and agreements with other states; and award of military and other titles and ranks. The Presidium also participates in the regular powers accorded to the People's Great Hural.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated April 2016


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