Monday, July 7, 2014

Phantom political parties

July 6 (UB Post) Phantom political parties are wandering around in Mongolia. Political parties are supposed to be an essential constituent of democracy by participating in elections, taking part in the lawmaking process and mobilizing people to achieve long-term common goals. While being a major vehicle to involvement in politics, political parties provide people with an opportunity to make important choices that concern the future of the nation. However, Mongolia’s political parties have not made such opportunities available for people and have failed to address the nation’s most worrying issues. This is the reason why people have been losing faith in them. Our political parties are supposed to be the bridge between society and politicians, but they have turned into huge castles with unknown lords concealing themselves behind a thick fog. Therefore, the political parties appear to be phantoms. This calls for the need to refocus public attention on the basic responsibilities and goals of a political party.

1. IDEOLOGY

Political parties must have their own ideology. In other words, every political party has to have its own policy and a political agenda to implement its ideology. However, people have increasing doubts about whether political parties in Mongolia have their policies, agendas, and implementation aligned, or if they have ideologies and fundamental principles of their own. D.Byambasuren, a former Prime Minister, said, “Although the former Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (the current Mongolian People’s Party) declares it is leftist, it was the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party that was in power when tax laws were changed and an environment for the unfair distribution of wealth was created. On the other hand, the Democratic Party says that they are liberals, but they laid the foundations of universal social care that they implemented hand in hand with the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. It shows that there is no longer any difference between the ideologies of Mongolia’s two major political forces. Consequently, people are forced to choose from those who compete to make the fanciest promise to acquire power and authority only. Everyone knows how the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party deceived people by making false promises in the 2008 elections. However, the promises made by the Democratic Party in the 2012 elections seem to be heading the same way as well.”

Ideologies of political parties must incorporate accountability. This allows people to choose not only candidates but also certain ideologies. The political party that attracts the biggest number of voters establishes their government and starts implementing their agenda.

2. CAPABILITY

Political parties must have the capability to reflect upon social needs, integrate them into policy, and lead society for its implementation. Despite the huge scale and conflicts with regard to social needs, political parties discuss them from many different angles and transform human needs into policy options. Therefore, political parties are deemed an important part of political processes. Voters have the same expectations, which is why the ruling power goes to whichever political party wins a democratic election.

As soon as it acquired the ruling power, jointly with smaller parties, the Democratic Party set out an objective to serve their own political party and stay in power at all costs, rather than implement their proposed action plan and serve the interests of society. The Government of Mongolia is being controlled not by the Democratic Party as a whole, but by a certain faction inside the party. It can be observed that the Prime Minister does not really have full authority. In our country, where political party funding and campaign finance are undisclosed, the wealthiest political party faction that makes the biggest donation is the most powerful. At the moment, a political party faction that consists of only three or four people has more power than the government.

Who can expect a wise decision from a political party that lets one of its factions seize the most power and a Prime Minister who has become a follower rather than a leader? Replacing a cabinet minister is a decision that should be made by the Prime Minister, not the parliament.

THREE. PERSONNEL

Political parties must serve as a platform where personnel working for the government are found, selected, and prepared. However, government positions today have already become a medium of exchange, which has allowed the wealthy to be appointed to the most senior positions for many years.
Since the constitutional amendment initiated by the Mongolian People’s Party to allow members of parliament to hold the office of cabinet minister at the same time, there has not been any chance to hold a cabinet minister accountable for any wrongdoings. Personnel at the middle and high levels of government are recruited not for their skills, but for their political party enthusiasm, involvement in elections, and loyalty to senior officials. Political parties are transforming into kingdoms where the leaders of factions are the kings and younger members are the servants. It has already been a long time since the majority of smaller parties have become fully dependent on a single wealthy individual.

Our political parties have still not been strengthened as a political power while there are weaknesses in terms of workforce policy, discipline, structure, and institutional organization. If the bill initiated by President Elbegdorj on the accountability of government officials that have been elected or appointed is passed, we will be one step closer to improving the quality of personnel working for political parties, as well as for the government.

FOUR. MAIN RESPONSIBILITY

Political parties are responsible for implementing public governance if they win elections, and to serve as opposition and provide scrutiny of the government if they do not. Our political parties have not been able to fulfill these duties to a satisfactory level and, consequently, have failed to receive faith and trust from the public.

Political parties that have acquired ruling power are working to win the next election and retain their power rather than to serve the national interests. It has recently been discovered that since the Mongolian People’s Party obtained ruling power, there have been a total of 108 new secret bank accounts belonging to politicians who sneaked into ministries, and a total of 4.5 billion MNT in unsanctioned transactions. For the last ten years, the authorities have been misinterpreting the true qualities of democracy and free market economy and have established more state-owned companies while wasting time by deliberately avoiding privatizing them. According to calculations at the end of 2013, a total of 102 state-owned companies owed 1.6 billion MNT, which is approximately one billion USD, to the state.

Political parties that do not win ruling power do not have the required culture and experience to serve as opposition. Those political parties have still not investigated why they lost in the elections, fixed their errors, and replaced their management. The opposition today cannot even express their stance strongly, let alone work their way up to the next election and be different from the ruling political party through proper analysis and assessment. For example, there is an absence of reformative measures, such as a political party disclosing their sources of funding and calling on other parties to do the same. The senior leaders of the Mongolian People’s Party have suddenly realized their role as the opposition and are trying their best to learn what their new objective is. However, most of their members are the root causes of the problem, which is why they are still not acknowledged by our society.

The reason why our political parties today are not developing in terms of governance and institutional structure can be traced back to the constitutional amendment that allowed “wearing double deel” (holding two offices; parliament member and cabinet member, at the same time). The introduction of the deputy ministerial position, which did not exist before, was also a political decision.

A democratic system can only produce benefits when there is true accountability and scrutiny of a government and its actions. Translated by B.AMAR

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