The MPRP was the ruling party of the Mongolian People's Republic from 1921 until 1996 (with no other political parties allowed until 1990), and from 2000 until 2004. Since 2006, it is the leading force in a coalition with some smaller parties and independent MPs.
The early days of the party were marked with considerable controversy, often related to Mongolia's relationship to the Soviet Union; eventually, the pro-Soviet faction was triumphant. Power struggles routinely turned violent: In the early 1920s, leaders and founding members of the party like Dogsomyn Bodoo, Dambyn Chagdarjav and Soliin Danzan were executed by rival factions. During the stalinist phase under Khorloogiin Choibalsan in the late thirties, two prime ministers, Peljidiin Genden and Anandyn Amar were brought to the Soviet Union and executed there, while Demid allegedly died from food poisoning in a Russian train.
Choibalsan was followed by Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal, who was Prime Minister of Mongolia for twenty-two years (the longest time served by any Prime Minister). Tsedenbal was considerably more moderate than Choibalsan, but his long reign and, towards the end, declining health lead to comparisons with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
In the 1990s, Mongolia began to modernize its political system, implementing many of the reforms seen in the Soviet Union. The party won the democratic elections of 1990 and 1992,and remained in office until 1996, when the Mongolian Democratic Union won power.
Under the leadership of Nambaryn Enkhbayar, the party modernized its corrupted image and appeared to shed many of the legacies of communism. Today, the party portrays itself as a social democratic organization, and its leader claims to be an admirer of Britain's Tony Blair. Based on this image and helped by the perceived failure of the Democratic Union government, the MPRP won a landslide victory in the 2000 elections.
Critics of the party, however, allege that its "reform" was illusionary, and that the party's success was the result of better public relations rather than any real change. In particular, the party's critics have alleged that the People's Revolutionary Party sought to acquire and censor television and print media, and there were claims of opposition journalists being imprisoned. There were also several high-profile cases on inflictions on international civil or human right norms by state authorities, like the abduction of D.Enkhbat from France, the imprisonment of his lawyer L.Sanjaasuren, and the detention of MP Lamjavyn Gündalai in 2003.
Since 2003 the party has the status of a full membership in the Socialist International.
The elections of June 27, 2004, saw a major defeat for the People's Revolutionary Party, which lost a total of 35 seats (47% of what it had previously held), resulting in a close tie between the MPRP and the democratic coalition. After the election, both MPRP and the opposition accused each other of irregularities. In the end, re-elections were done in a small number of constituencies. Nonetheless, both sides agreed on a power-sharing agreement in August 2004. As part of the terms of the power-sharing agreement, the MPRP would regain the Prime Ministership in August 2006 after a term in office by Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of the Democratic Party.
The events triggered strong protests from civic groups and their followers, camping on the central Sükhbaatar square in Ulan Bator for weeks, despite police efforts to drive them away. Pro-MPRP rallies were short lived in comparison, and some participants indicated that they had received money from MPRP to join. Anti-MPRP protests flared up again in April 2006.
Individuals and organizations raised concerns that the government change might have been unconstitutional, but no specific violations could be shown. Also of interest was the time chosen. In November 2005, Customs Director General Kh. Baatar had been arrested on charges of corruption. As a result of his questioning, several high ranking MPRP members had come under suspicion as well, and were reported to have visited him in jail just a few days before ending the coalition. Opposition forces alleged that executing the government change just a few months before the date intended by the coalition agreement was instrumental in controlling the investigations in this case.
In a re-election in September 2006, the MPRP received another seat that had previously been held by a Democratic Party member.
Mongolian legislative election held on June 29, 2008, caused riots in Mongolian capital after allegations of vote rigging and election fraud. A four-day state of emergency has been declared since July 2. In the evening of July 1, anti-MPRP protesters gathered in front of the MPRP headquarters, clashed with the police, and set the building on fire. Police used batons, water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Around midnight local time, President Nambaryn Enkhbayar declared a state of emergency to be in effect for the following four days. The Cultural Palace, north of the MPRP headquarters, was also set on fire. Five people were reported killed in the protests; all were civilians.
According to preliminary results published on June 30 2008, the ruling MPRP won at least 41 seats, the main opposition DP won at least 25 seats, and at least one seat was won by an independent candidate. Other estimations give the MPRP 44 seats, the DP 21 seats, and three other parties one seat each, with eight seats remaining to be tallied.