Former Prime Minister Khurelsukh Uknaa, leader of the Mongolian People’s Party (PPM, center-left), heir to the ruling party during the communist era, is widely favored.
The Mongols elect their president on Wednesday, June 9, at the end of a campaign marked by anti-Covid restrictions, despite the rapid progress of vaccination in this country of 3 million inhabitants. Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. in Ulan Bator, capital of this landlocked state between China and Russia and endowed with a democratic constitution since 1992 when it left Soviet orbit.
Former Prime Minister Khurelsukh Uknaa, leader of the Mongolian People’s Party (PPM, center-left), heir to the ruling Communist-era party, is a winner – even though he had to resign last January, taking responsibility a dysfunction of the health system in the midst of an epidemic. Despite the freezing cold, demonstrators took to the streets to protest the fate of a young mother who had just given birth and had been transported to an infectious disease treatment center with her baby.
The government’s policy had hitherto been rather hailed for having spared the country a serious epidemic situation thanks to the adoption of radical measures (strict containment and closure of borders). The PPM overwhelmingly won the legislative elections held in June 2020. But the virus has experienced a resurgence in recent weeks and Mongolia has now totaled some 300 deaths. Vaccination is making rapid progress, however, with 90% of the adult population having already received one dose and 60% having received two doses.
In this poor country with a deficient hospital system, the coronavirus was reportedly introduced in March 2020 by a Frenchman working for the nuclear group Orano (ex-Areva), hated by local environmental movements. The main rival of the former Prime Minister is also the environmental candidate Enkhbat Dangaasuren, an entrepreneur who has succeeded in the digital economy. The latter’s campaign, however, was compromised by the virus he contracted, forcing him to observe a quarantine and to cancel the televised debate which was to take place a week before the poll.
Outgoing President Khaltmaa Battulga (Democratic Party, Liberal-Conservative), a former Mongolian wrestling world champion, is barred from running for re-election due to constitutional amendments passed in 2019, which limit the presidency to one only six-year term.