Mongolia has been functioning as a democracy, which is said to be the most correct form of governance, for the last 25 years. Candidates for leadership positions are elected by the public, in consideration of their skills, social influence, status, and reputation. Yet, Mongolia’s development and politics are failing because of a lack of leaders capable of making good decisions.
The nominations of R.Amarjargal, Ch.Saikhanbileg and D.Ganbat for the next Prime Minister raised a commotion, but this controversy was raised long before these candidates were selected. In the last presidential election, when wrestling champion B.Bat-Erdene was nominated by the MPP, other parties were reluctant, as if asking, “Isn’t there anyone else?” When he lost, even his party members were content with some 40 percent of the votes, as if they knew they would lose. From one perspective, this is an acknowledgement that Mongolia is facing a shortage of leaders, and it was a futile choice aimed at playing with the minds of voters by nominating a non-traditional candidate for political office.
The newly appointed Prime Minister, Ch.Saikhanbileg, noted that Mongolia isn’t short on leaders but short on decision-making capacity, and announced that he would form a government consisting of capable members.
Even before this government has been created, Mongolia has accepted his announcement as a solution. It isn’t definite that long-delayed issues will be solved as soon as the new Prime Minister begins governing. The reason for this is because the devices he says he will employ to resolve political dead ends, including putting strategic mineral deposits into circulation, resolving investment issues and the economic crisis, and changing laws linked to delays, aren’t new ideas. So far, no one has expressed reasonable, strong, or unique positions on these topics of concern and national debate. No one has gained supporters by standing strong and being committed to their ideals. MP G.Uyanga is the only one who has been consistent with her initial position, particularly about necessary changes to the Constitution.
Ch.Saikhanbileg repeated generic ideas for overcoming Mongolia’s economic crisis with mutual understanding, resolution, and effort. Mongolia’s economy made up of only ten billion USD would easily be revived if projects based on the Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi deposits were mobilized. Political parties have said that they aren’t able to achieve results on these projects because the people making decisions lack mutual understanding. It may be better for Mongolians to not expect much from Ch.Saikhanbileg’s new government.
Demand for the position of MPP party leader was still high even after former Prime Minister and Chairman of the MPP S.Bayar resigned from his post for health reasons, and U.Khurelsukh rejected the appointment for valid reasons. The party faced difficulty in selecting their party chairman from potential candidates. It wasn’t the agony of having to choose from many good candidates, but from many bad candidates.
A leader’s individual characteristics do influence change and the development of a society for the better or the worse. Former President of the U.S.A. Ronald Reagan was an actor who helped redefine the purpose of government, pressured the Soviet Union to end the Cold War, and solidified the conservative agenda for decades after his presidency. A leader’s individual characteristics are important in impacting the public, being acknowledged, receiving support for policy and decisions, and reaching solutions. One theory about individual leadership traits states that all the best leaders possess common characteristics. According to the theory, the qualities that political leaders must have are: having a sharp mind, being consistent in their opinions, proper behavior and management, working hard to achieve their objectives, being likeable, being responsible, and possessing strong presentation skills. Even the tone of their voice is said to be important.
The professional research institute New Era Center organized a survey of the top ten politicians, for social, economic and political research, in the first quarter of this year. The best politician only received a 12.3 percent approval rating, while the politician with the least votes got 2.3 percent. This indicates that Mongolia has too many weak leaders. Only two politicians were able to receive more than ten percent approval, which is quite unfortunate for leaders who impact the public. Our leaders should receive at least close to fifty percent support in polls like this. Leaders with such weak support are making unclear decisions and turning solutions into dead-ends.
Some Mongolians who hang on to authority and privileges, while giving and taking bribes after somehow acquiring an official position, believe that they’re leaders. Others mistake themselves for leaders after participating in a political event, or being labeled celebrities. Leadership is based on principles of dominance and subordination as well as values, beliefs, ethics, character, knowledge and skill.
When and how will Mongolia find its true leaders? A crisis doesn’t necessarily bring out someone’s true leadership qualities. During the process of learning about democracy, many failures and challenges have arisen, including the current economic crisis, mineral exploitation, corruption, and an inadequate constitution and election procedures. Isn’t it now time to resolve these issues with the help from competent leaders?