A legislative election in Mongolia was held on June 29 2008. A total of 356 candidates were running for 76 seats in the State Great Khural. According to official results published on July 14th, at least 39 seats went to the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), and at least 25 seats went to main opposition party, the Democrats (DP). Ten seats remained subject to possible recounts.
After intermediate results published on July 30th showed a clear MPRP victory, DP chairman Elbegdorj declared on July 1st that the elections were rigged and that his party would not accept these results. Protests against the election results turned violent on the evening of July 1st, and protesters sacked the MPRP headquarters in downtown Ulaanbaatar. Five protesters were killed, and around midnight a four-day state of emergency was declared.
The candidates were elected from multi-seat constituencies in a Plurality-at-large system, with two to four seats per aimag or (in Ulaanbaatar) düüreg. Previous elections had single-seat constituencies, and the new, more complicated voting system was reported to have lead to a delay in vote counting.
Of the 76 seats, 20 were elected from Ulaanbaatar, the other 56 were elected from the aimags. Mongolian voter registration is essentially coupled with civil registration. Vote counting is not done publicly, and results of individual polling stations are not published. After the 2004 legislative elections had been contested in some constituencies, Mongolian voters now have their thumbs marked when casting their vote.
311 candidates from 11 parties and one coalition, plus 45 independent candidates, were running for election, only 28 of them incumbent MPs. Both the DP and the MPRP promised cash payouts in case of an election win. The DP promised 1,000,000 MNT (about 800 USD) per person in case of an election win. After first denouncing the idea of such payouts, the MPRP changed course and promised 1,500,000 MNT per person. Other issues were inflation and mining. As in previous elections, there were instances of candidates making monetary payments to voters.
According to final results published on July 14th, the MPRP won at least 39 seats, the DP won at least 25, at least one seat was going to the Civic Will Party, and three seats were won by independent candidates. Results from three constituencies (Khentii, Dornod, and Bayangol) remained open. On August 20th, final results from Khentii were officially published, raising the number of MPRP seats to at least 42. Turnout was 74.3%, considerably lower than the 82% of the 2004 election.
After immediate results showed a clear MPRP victory, DP Chairman Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj declared that his party would not accept the election results, and alleged that the elections had been rigged. On a press conference held on July 7th, DP politicians D. Dorligjav, Z. Enkhbold and L. Gündalai said that there had been massive irregularities with voter registration. Some of their claims were later repudiated by the central registry office. Other allegations were irregularities in the counting process, and voter bribery. International observers, however, described the election as free and fair.
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, rubber bullets, and apparently also life ammunition.The Cultural Palace, north of the MPRP headquarters, was also set on fire.Around midnight local time, President Nambaryn Enkhbayar declared a state of emergency to be in effect for the following four days. Armored Personnel Carriers were deployed to the streets of Ulaanbaatar, a night curfew and a media blackout were declared.
Five people, all of them civilians, were killed in the riots: four were shot, and one apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The Mongolian minister of justice estimated 220 civilians and 108 service members were injured. Approximately 700 protesters were arrested., of whom 160 remained in custody as of August 28th, 2008.
On August 15th and 19th 2008, ten police officers were arrested in connection with the shootings in the night of July 1st/2nd. On August 20th, relatives of these arrested officers organized a protest demonstration on Sükhbaatar Square.
Elbegdorj said on July 18 that the DP would boycott the opening session of parliament on July 23. He also said that he was prepared to resign as DP Chairman if the 200 protesters still being held by the police were not released and the political crisis did not end. However, the DP members were present in the opening session, with many of its members criticizing the Chairman of the General Election Committee, and the way the election was held. After Elbegdorj gave his party's position, members of the DP went out of the parliament. As a result, the new members of the parliament were not sworn in.
On August 28th, most of the DP representatives in the new State Great Khural decided to attend parliament, and all but Ts. Elbegdorj were sworn in. On September 11th, S. Bayar was elected as new prime minister of a coalition government between MPRP and DP. Ts. Elbegdorj finally was sworn in on the same day or on September 11th.