Is Mongolia the next democracy to go?

JUDE MAK/AFP/Getty Images After Kenya’s violent polls in December, and Robert Mugabe’s “sham” reelection last month, electoral violence is rearing its ugly head once more. The latest victim? Mongolia, an otherwise respectable democracy now “facing its biggest challenge since its birth in 1990,” The New York Times reports: Following cries of fraud in parliamentary elections ...

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594166_080708_mongolia5.jpg

JUDE MAK/AFP/Getty Images

After Kenya's violent polls in December, and Robert Mugabe's "sham" reelection last month, electoral violence is rearing its ugly head once more. The latest victim? Mongolia, an otherwise respectable democracy now "facing its biggest challenge since its birth in 1990," The New York Times reports:

Following cries of fraud in parliamentary elections — accusations that were disputed by international election observers — hundreds of rioters, many of them drunk, attacked the headquarters of the dominant political party and the neighboring national art gallery on July 1. Fires were started. Five people were killed. More than 1,000 pieces of artwork were destroyed, damaged or looted.

JUDE MAK/AFP/Getty Images

After Kenya’s violent polls in December, and Robert Mugabe’s “sham” reelection last month, electoral violence is rearing its ugly head once more. The latest victim? Mongolia, an otherwise respectable democracy now “facing its biggest challenge since its birth in 1990,” The New York Times reports:

Following cries of fraud in parliamentary elections — accusations that were disputed by international election observers — hundreds of rioters, many of them drunk, attacked the headquarters of the dominant political party and the neighboring national art gallery on July 1. Fires were started. Five people were killed. More than 1,000 pieces of artwork were destroyed, damaged or looted.

But not everyone’s jumping off the democracy bandwagon just yet. While the government’s response to the violence–which included declaring a state of emergency, shutting down media outlets, and deploying troops into the streets–was far from ideal, there are reasons to remain optimistic.

For one, the violence appears not to be caused by any inherent flaws in Mongolia’s system, but rather by the unfortunate confluence of economic frustrations and cheap vodka. Second, as we noted in the March/April edition of FP, Mongolia’s parliament is among the world’s strongest, and recent research shows that countries with strong legislatures are more likely to have resilient democracies.

While the government must answer for its stronghanded response to the recent violence and address the ecnomic concerns that may have caused it, I’d expect the only democracy from the Sea of Japan to Eastern Europe will endure.

Patrick Fitzgerald is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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