Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Modeling Democracy

For a while, now, Mongolians have become much sought after in the modeling world, what with their sleek lines and high cheeks. Since about 1990, however, the people of Mongolia have been modeling something new: democracy. And they're doing it with considerable flair--and consistency.

Philip Dorsey Iglauer of the The Korea Times writes a sterling op-ed today about Mongolia's great strides since the fall of the Iron Curtain and how it is shaping up to be a prototype to the region and beyond. This article comes as a welcome relief after the Moscow Times's cynical treament of the Mongolian elections yesterday.

Note: this panoramic, "big-picture" article is great for those who want a quick run-down of Mongolia's last 15 years of history.

Two highlights:

Iglauer hits upon something that I think is crucial to understanding Mongolia and its stability amid a sea of Eurasian confusion:
It could transition to democracy as smoothly as it did, because it was already sovereign with established national institutions and with internationally recognized borders. Mongolia held its first free elections in July 1990, about two years after South Korea held its first democratic presidential election.
Mongolia's history and what it means for today's stability is something I'd like to write about later. Stay tuned.

Iglauer also addresses the unity of purpose that has become the hallmark of Mongolian politics:
The newly elected president [1990], Punsalmaagiyn Orchibat, sold off state assets and liberalized the economy. But the parliament and prime minister of the opposition former communists were crucially in general agreement on the liberal trajectory on which to set the country toward capitalism and democracy.
It's this abilty to smoothe over differences and come to a common vision on the future that has staved off the revolutions that have necessarily taken place in Mongolia's post-Soviet neighbors to the west.

Anyway, this and much, much more in the rest of the article.


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