Preliminary results showed that Mongolia’s ruling party won a narrow majority in the parliamentary elections

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (AP) — Preliminary results announced by Mongolia’s ruling party show that the party won the parliamentary elections but only by a narrow majority.

The results indicate that the Mongolian People’s Party won between 68 and 70 seats in the 126-seat parliament, Prime Minister Uyun-Erden Luvsanamsaray told the media early Saturday morning. That would be a significant decline from the previous election in 2016.

The elections aimed to form an expanded parliament, with an increase of 50 seats over the previous elections Elections in 2020The Mongolian People’s Party won that contest by a landslide, but other parties appear to have been able to take advantage. Voter dissatisfaction To eat mostly.

Earlier on Friday, about two dozen voters lined up on a flight of stairs leading to a polling station on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar early in the morning, with some complaining that the station was opened by a ten-minute delay. Some older voters, including community leaders, wore formal silk robes tied with large leather belts for the occasion.

Inside, voters filled out their ballot papers behind a small screen and then placed them in an electronic vote-counting machine. Before they left, a purple dot was placed on one of their fingers with a marker to prevent them from trying to vote again.

Turnout by 10pm, when polls closed, was 69.3%, and was expected to reach 70% once results from remote areas were finalised and overseas voting added.

More than 50 countries will go to the polls in 2024.

Mongolia, with a population of 3.4 million, became a democracy in 1990 after more than six decades of one-party communist rule. Although people welcomed the freedoms that came with the end of the communist regime, many have come to look at Parliament and its members with cynicism, seeing them as primarily working to enrich themselves and their business partners.

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The Mongolian People’s Party acknowledged these problems, but largely blamed them on other political parties.

Prime Minister Uyun Erden Luvsanamsaray said on Friday that democracy and trust in parliament weaken when personal interest is put before the national interest. He called for opening a new page of cooperation between the government and citizens after the first three decades of democracy.

“Today, a brand new thirty years begins in Mongolia’s history. Let us all see together how this representative parliament will work and how the political parties will perform,” he told a crowd of journalists after casting his vote.

The polling station is located on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar in the Gir district, where many people initially lived in Bedouin tents after moving to the capital. The area remains poorer, and is now a collection of mostly simple houses, some of which still have tents in their yards.

Many residents of the region, especially the older generation, support the People’s Party, which also ruled the country during the communist era and then transformed into a center-left party in the democratic era.

Naranchimej Lamjav, a 69-year-old member of the People’s Party and leader of the elderly community, was among six voters dressed in formal attire who showed up at the polling station before it opened at 7 a.m.

“I support the current government led by Prime Minister Uyun Erden, because they are dispensing justice and starting a new 30-year era,” she said, wearing a blue embroidered dress.

But some younger voters expressed disappointment in the People’s Party and said they had chosen younger candidates who they hoped would bring about change.

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Enkhmandak Bold Baatar (38 years old) said that he did not vote for the People’s Party nor for the main opposition party, the Democratic Party, noting that the performance of the two parties was not good either. 19 parties are competing for parliamentary seats.

“I have been living here for 38 years, but the area is the same,” he said. “Just this road and some buildings. Things would be different if they worked for the people.”

Corruption scandals Trust in the government and political parties has eroded. Along with the centre-right Democratic Party, the Hon’s party has emerged in this election as a potential third force.

In addition to corruption, key issues of concern to voters included unemployment and inflation in an economy battered first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then by the fallout from the war in Ukraine. The country’s cattle herders were also beaten. He got “Dzud” this year.A combination of severe weather and drought has killed 7.1 million animals.

Climate change and access to water in a water-scarce country weigh heavily on the minds of many herders, like Khanda Byamba, 37, who lives in the Dungdugbe district of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.

She told The Associated Press in an online interview that the candidates promised to provide water in the region — where pastoralists and mines compete for scarce groundwater. Both are pillars of Mongolia’s economy.

“Global warming and climate change are very acute in Mongolia. The Gobi region is in dire need of water. It is very questionable whether they will keep their promises,” she added.

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Aniruddha Ghoshal, an Associated Press writer in Hanoi, Vietnam, contributed to this report.

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