Sharing the Wealth

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Mongolian judges recently visited Plainview, Texas to learn about American justice. They also visited the Cadillac Ranch art installation, which features half-buried, colorfully painted cars, and the Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the famous 72-ounce steak-eating challenge, reported My Plainview.com.

The Mongolian judges may have found these lessons useful as their country – wedged between China and Russia – prepares for a parliamentary election on June 28.

Corruption is the biggest issue on voters’ minds, wrote the Diplomat. Many especially want the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which dominates the legislature and holds the executive branch under President Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, to share the wealth that the country’s massive mining sector now generates – but for what many believe is only an elite few.

Opposition parties were especially excited this year to gain at least some power because the number of legislative seats has increased from 76 to 126, giving them a chance to win more offices.

But the MPP is entrenched. Observers at Fitch Solutions, for example, believe that opposition groups have little or no chance to gain significant seats in parliament.

Meanwhile, the party appears determined not to leave anything to chance. A leader of the Democratic Party (DP), who was also governor of the district of Sant Sum, for example, was beaten to death recently while meeting with MPP representatives. DP leaders blamed the oppressive political climate that has grown worse in recent years under the ruling party.

“A star of democracy … has lost his life at the hands of others,” said a DP statement to Agence France-Presse. “This election is going on under all possible pressures, such as heavy government pressure and spying.”

Mongolian voters might have to wait to see the benefits of the extractive industries in their midst, too, even though, as the Foreign Policy Research Institute explained, it can easily trade with China and Russia – while also playing both off against the US.

Record-high coal exports have yielded record revenues for the country, while the new Oyu Tolgoi copper mine promises even more cash as demand for the metal has skyrocketed, noted the East Asia Forum. But Mongolia might need to wait until the 2030s before revenues from these industries make up for the economy having tanked during the coronavirus pandemic.

Unfortunately, the “dzud” (disaster) – or extreme weather involving droughts and severe snowy winters – has also killed more than 7.1 million head of livestock in Mongolia this year, further eroding the economy in a country where herding is also a cornerstone of culture, the Associated Press added.

Nomadic herding is so important to the country’s 3.3 million people that its constitution refers to the country’s 65 million camels, yaks, cattle, sheep, goats, and horses as its “national wealth,” the riches that are actually shared.

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