Back in the Treehouse-Mongolia & the Block Vote
Apologies for being slack in my blogging since Mongolia. Here are a couple of pics of bucolic life on the high plains for your enjoyment.
Matt S asks me to say a few words on why I was there. I spoke at a conference of New and Transitional Democracies (of which Mongolia is the current chair). The meeting was focused on the problems of detailed democracy assessment methodologies and we reviewed the assessment of Mongolian democracy which had been done (with some international assistance) by the Mongolians themselves. They basically found no real threats to democracy (as opposed to the rest of central Asia) but growing distrust in parties and politicians (where have we heard that before??)
My other reason for going was to pick up info on the electoral system question which is pretty central in Mongolia. They began in 1992 with the Block Vote (districts between 2 and 4 in size) which led to the former communists (MPRP) winning a 70 of 76 seats with 57% of the vote. This is, of course, how we would expect the system to work. So they switched to Anglo FPTP for 1996, 2000 and 2004 which still led to wild swings in vote and seat share. In '96 the Democrats won 50/76 seats with just over half the votes, in 2000 the MPRP came back and won every seat bar 1 with around 60%! Then in 2004 there was pretty much a dead heat -- the MPRP won 39 seats, the Democrats 36 and others 3. A coalition govt was formed but it fell apart in 2006 and the MPRP seized back majority control. Now, in a strange choice which I'm trying to understand, Mongolia is returning to the Block Vote for 2008. You can guess that I have some serious misgivings about that!