A celebrity/businessman claims a surprising victory in a presidential election that will be known as one of the most aggressive campaigns in the country's history. On top of all of that, public perception would lead you to believe neither candidate is fit to hold office. Yes, I am talking about the Mongolian Presidential run-off election.
Friday's run-off election ends with the populist candidate Khaltmaa Battulga from the Democratic Party, obtaining the 50.6% majority needed to defeat his opponent, Miyeegombo Enkhbold of the ruling Mongolian People's Party. Prior to his political career, Battulga rise to fame was in wrestling and marital arts for the Mongolian National Wrestling Team in the 1980's and in 2006 he became the Chairman of the Mongolian Judo Federation. Outside of Battulga's martial arts background, his business group has ownership in a Genghis Khan themed amusement park, multiple food companies, a hotel, a taxi service, and restaurants.
The past couple of years have been tough on Mongolia, it is a mineral-rich country boasting large copper, gold and coal deposits. In 2010 the Oyu Tolgoi mine starting production becoming the biggest mining project in the countries history. But as Oyu Tolgoi started to go over operational budget commodity prices sharply dropped, putting the country into an economic downfall. Prices in mineral rights and disputes with foreign investors caused Mongolia's economic growth to go from 17% in 2011 to just 1% in 2016.
Why is this news? Investors are skeptical of the new President Battulga, his campaign's main message was bringing back jobs and to diminish the countries wealth gap. His plan is wrapped around his experience as a former minister of agriculture and industry in the Mongolian parliament. Battulga's pitch is adding some state control over mines and to balance out Mongolia's exports to China, Mongolia exports 87% of its products to China. Battulga also plans to revoke a government order that was needed to receive a $5.5 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund just signed this May.
Mongolia is a parliamentary democracy run by a prime minister. The president however does have the power to veto legislation and make judicial appointments.
Khaltmaa Battulga has been labeled a Nationalist and I guess technically that is correct. But with only 9.6% of its land available for prospecting a strong national government might be needed to dig themselves out of their literal and figurative hole. That said, Battulga's revocation of the IMF bailout is serious and could have global affects.
Just something to keep an eye on.