Incumbent wins Mongolian presidential election

By bne IntelliNews June 27, 2013

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Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj looks to have been returned to the presidency for a second term after taking a majority in the first round of voting, according to preliminary results. With the incumbent seen as the most investor-friendly of the three candidates in the election, his victory is likely to partially relieve investor concerns over rising resource nationalism.

The early count suggests Elbegdorj, leader of the ruling Democratic Party, took 50.23% of the vote, the General Election Commission announced at a briefing on June 27. Former wrestling champion Badmaanyambuu Bat-Erdene was the runner up as expected, taking 41.97% - but that was not enough to force a second round, the GEC's director Choinzon Sodnomtseren announced, according to Bloomberg.

Health Minister Natsag Udval, seen as a proxy candidate for former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar - who is serving a prison term on corruption charges - took just 6.5%. Official results will be issued within five days, but the GEC said preliminary results show that Elbegdorj will return for a second term without the need for a second round of voting.

The president's re-election sees the Democratic Party continue its dominance of Mongolian politics. In addition to Elbegdorj, Mongolia's prime minister and parliament speaker, as well as the mayor of the capital Ulaanbataar, are all party representatives.

"The parliament of Mongolia, the government of Mongolia and the president of Mongolia will work as one team in the remaining period," Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag said late on June 26, according to Bloomberg.

The verdict is seen as good news for international investors. While the president has been leading efforts to increase the state's share of certain projects, he is also viewed as far more investor-friendly than main rival Bat-Erdene. With the election out of the way, this is likely to pave the way for progress on mega mining projects - in particular the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold deposit.

Mongolia's GDP growth - the fastest in the world until recently - has slowed dramatically over the last 12 months, mainlydue to the slowdown in neighbouring China, which is the primary market for Mongolian exports of coal and other natural resources. This is combined with the lack of progress at Oyu Tolgoi. Amidst tough talks between developer Rio Tinto and Ulaanbataar over the state's demand for a larger share of the operating company, the launch of commercial production was delayed until after the presidential vote.

Elbegdorj's re-election now offers the opportunity for those negotiations to continue - Bat-Erdene is closely connected to efforts at a stronger form of resource nationalism. The British-Australian multinational is also struggling to agree on the second phase development of the mine with the government.

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