June 25, 2020 / 2:29 AM / 19 days ago

Ruling Mongolian People's Party wins landslide election

ULAANBAATAR (Reuters) - The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) will remain in power after a landslide general election victory secured 62 out of the 76 seats in the State Great Khural, the country’s parliament, according to results released overnight.

Incumbent Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa will lead the next government, the 17th since Mongolia’s democratic revolution put an end to Communist rule in 1990.

The opposition Democrats are set to take 11 seats, a small improvement from the nine secured in 2016. Turnout stood at 73%, though some polling stations were cut off as a result of heavy rainstorms.

Mongolia is a parliamentary democracy, with the party with the most seats entitled to form a government and choose the prime minister. However, it also elects a president who can veto government legislation.

The MPP is descended from the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, which ran the country during its Communist era from 1921 to 1990.

According to a survey published in May by the Sant Maral Foundation, a Mongolian polling group, unemployment and widening income disparities were the biggest concerns ahead of the election, with the country struggling to figure out how to share its vast mineral wealth.

But the poll showed strong public support for the government’s handling of the coronavirus, with 49% of people polled saying it was their biggest success.

Mongolia shut its borders early, closed schools and universities and restricted transportation routes from its capital Ulaanbaatar to other regions. It has so far seen a total of 215 coronavirus cases, with no deaths.

Boldsaikhan Sambuu, a political scientist with the Zorig Foundation, a Mongolian think tank, said the MPP benefited from its handling of COVID-19 and its strong leadership.

But its victory could also be attributed to the first-past-the-post electoral system, which gave it a vast majority of seats with 40% of the total vote, he said.

Reporting by Anand Tumurtogoo in Ulaanbaatar, Writing by David Stanway in Shanghai; Editing by Michael Perry

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