Mongolia – Presidential vetoes

It is very difficult to obtain any information about Mongolia on an ongoing basis. This is a shame because Mongolia is a very interesting case of semi-presidentialism.

Anyway, some information about President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj’s use of his veto power is available. Art. 33 (1) of the Mongolian constitution states that the president shall “exercise a right to veto against all or part of laws and other decisions adopted by the State lkh Khural. The laws or decisions shall remain in force if two thirds of the members of the State Ikh Khural present in the session do not accept the President’s veto” i.e. the presidential veto can be overturned by a two-thirds majority.

President Elbegdorj is from the Democratic Party. The government is a coalition of the Democratic Party and the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), which won 46 of 76 seats in the highly contested 2008 legislative election. The Democratic Party has 27 seats. So, together, they obviously control a two-thirds majority. A complication is that in November 2010 the MPRP changed its name to the Mongolian People’s Party. However, a fraction of the party’s deputies refused to accept the change and has tried to form a new MPRP. My understanding is that this decision is currently before the courts. So, I am not sure about the precise de facto level of support for the parties.

In this context, the Wikipedia article on President Elbegdorj cites a Mongolian source as saying that he vetoed the budget (or perhaps a certain element of it) in December 2009. However, parliament overturned the veto. In October 2010 the president’s website reports that President Elbegdorj also issued a partial veto of a bill increasing the salaries of public sector workers. I have no information about whether the bill was overturned.

What this shows is that Mongolia continues to be an interesting case. There is a basic balance between the president and the PM. So, Mongolia is a nice case for testing whether this type of semi-presidential arrangement helps the system of checks and balances or whether it creates tensions within the government. What this also shows is that we need some way of obtaining more information about the country on an ongoing basis.

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