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Civil society in a non-Western setting : Mongolian civil society Jargalsaikhan, Mendee 2012

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CIVIL SOCIETY IN A NON-WESTERN SETTING: MONGOLIAN CIVIL SOCIETY  by  Jargalsaikhan Mendee  B.A., Defense University, 1994 M.A., University of British Columbia, 2011  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Political Science)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  (Vancouver)  July 2012  © Jargalsaikhan Mendee, 2012  Abstract Civil society development is one of the measures of the democratization process. Yet the examination of civil society is complicated due to varying understandings and approaches. This thesis suggests an analytical framework that enables us to investigate the existence of civil society space, its institutionalization, its actors, and the internalization of democratic values and norms. Using the framework advanced here, it examines Mongolian civil society, which is often described by scholars, politicians, and civil society practitioners as ‘vibrant’ and ‘strong’. The thesis concludes that while civil society space does exist in Mongolia, it is neither fully institutionalized nor respected by the state, by politicians, by business or by other actors. Moreover, democratic values and norms are not internalized because internalization is something that takes several generations to accomplish. The widespread reliance on informal networks undermines efforts to promote democratic values and norms as well as trust in democratic institutions. Mongolian civil society is therefore vulnerable.  ii  Table of Contents Abstract .................................................................................................................................... ii Table of Contents ................................................................................................................... iii List of Tables .......................................................................................................................... iv List of Figures .......................................................................................................................... v Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................ vi Section 1: Introduction ........................................................................................................... 1 Section 2: Conceptualization of Civil Society in Non-Western Settings ............................ 3 2.1 Civil Society as Public Space....................................................................................................... 3 2.2 Institutionalization of Civil Society ............................................................................................. 5 2.3 Actors in Civil Society ................................................................................................................. 7 2.4 Internalization of Democratic Values .......................................................................................... 9  Section 3: Analyzing Mongolian Civil Society.................................................................... 12 3.1 Literature Overview on Mongolian Democratization and Civil Society ................................... 12 3.2 Openness of Civil Society Space ............................................................................................... 15 3.3 Institutionalization ..................................................................................................................... 18 3.4 Actors ......................................................................................................................................... 21 3.5 Internalization of Democratic Values ........................................................................................ 25 3.6 Cases of New Civil Society Institutions: The Citizens’ Halls and Homeland Councils ............ 28  Section 4: Conclusion............................................................................................................ 32 References .............................................................................................................................. 34 Appendix Barometer Survey Results of “Sant Maral” Foundation ................................ 45  iii  List of Tables Table 1. Major Activities of NGOs Active in the Social Sector ............................................. 19 Table 2. Which of the Following Social Circles or Groups Are Important to You? .............. 27 Table 3. Question on the Degree of Satisfaction with the Democracy ................................... 45 Table 4. Question on the Level of Democracy ....................................................................... 45  iv  List of Figures Figure 1. Spheres of Social Life ............................................................................................... 4 Figure 2. Actors and Overlapping Areas .................................................................................. 8  v  Acknowledgements I am especially indebted to Lisa Sundstrom for supervising my thesis and providing insightful and constructive feedback on each draft. And, I am also grateful to Mark Warren, Dalaibuyan Byambajav, and Erin Williams who have generously provided their time and insights. Finally, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my family for understanding, love and support.  vi  Section 1: Introduction From the start of democratization in 1989, Mongolian civil society often has been regarded as vibrant and strong as a result of the number of the country’s civil society organizations (CSOs) and their influence. 1 However, these claims are rarely challenged. This thesis questions the validity of these claims and investigates the operationalization of the civil society concept in a non-Western setting. Mongolia is an unusual case. It did not receive substantial assistance and guidance from the developed democracies for civil society, mostly because of its remoteness and geopolitical insignificance. 2 Mongolia did not have tradition of liberal democracy. It neither borders other democracies nor does it retain any membership in multilateral institutions run by the Western democracies. However, it is the only Asian postcommunist state among those other “third wave transitions” whose democratization has not regressed (Huntington, 1991; Fish, 2001; Carothers, 2002; Geddes, 1999; Doorenspleet & Kopecky, 2008). 3 This leads to a question: Why and how has civil society survived in this non-Western setting? Is it really ‘vibrant’ and ‘strong’ as scholars, politicians, and practitioners claim? This thesis argues that Mongolian civil society is not in fact vibrant and strong. Indeed, it has noticeable weaknesses. While the space for civil society does exist, it is poorly institutionalized and not fully respected by the state, politicians, businesses or other actors. This makes the civil society space vulnerable to exploitation by various actors. Democratic values and norms have not been fully internalized and trust in democratic institutions remains low. Without the internalization of democratic values and norms and consolidation of trust, civil society – a space for civic activities – will shrink and even retreat as anti-democratic forces dominate the state and society. These weaknesses have been overlooked. The Mongolian case provides interesting empirical evidence to advance these arguments. First, Mongolia is a non-Western society that sits at the crossroads of European, Islamic, and Oriental civilizations. Second, it transitioned from totalitarian to an authoritarian regime, and then from an authoritarian to a democratic regime over the past 90 years. The totalitarian regime 1  The term civil society organization and non-governmental organization will be used interchangeably in this thesis. Western scholars claim that Mongolian civil society is strong and vibrant (Fish, 1998, p. 136; Finch, 2005; Fritz, 2008, p. 783; ARD, 2010, p. 12; Severinghaus, 2001). 2 As noted by Henderson, “[a]fter spending some time working with Mongolian NGOs, the [IREX] program officer felt that “no one will give money to Mongolia because no one in the States is there to represent their interests to USAID” (Henderson, 2002, p. 152). This observation remains valid. 3 Mongolia was not a Soviet Republic, but it was closely allied with the Soviet Union as a satellite state (Rupen, 1979; Sanders, 1987; Lattimore, 1962). 1  reigned from 1921-1952, followed by the authoritarian regime from 1953-1989, and a democratic regime since 1990. Each regime has had a lifespan of 20-30 years, which appears to be a sufficient period for any regime to consolidate its key features that have lingering impacts for the succeeding regime. Finally, the absence of some variables like armed conflicts, military interventions in politics, external influence, religious and ethnic diversity, and massive population makes the Mongolian case an easier one for isolating the key causal variables for the development of civil society. This analysis will proceed in three stages. First, in Section 2, an analytical framework will be developed to examine the civil society space, its institutionalization, its actors, and some factors in the internalization of democratic values. The third section will employ the framework to assess Mongolian civil society. To highlight some unique developments, it will examine the citizens’ halls and the homeland councils. The first citizens’ hall was created by President Elbegdorj in 2009 to encourage public participation in the law-making, whereas the homeland councils are the most popular form of civil society organization linking the urban and rural populaces. The concluding section will summarize the main findings.  2  Section 2: Conceptualization of Civil Society in Non-Western Settings 2.1 Civil Society as Public Space Most current literature accepts the relational (spatial) definition of civil society. It is an intermediate arena autonomous from the family, market, political society, and the state (Giersdorf & Croissant, 2011, p. 4; Heinrich, 2005, p. 213; Evans, Henry, & Sundstrom, 2006, pp. 323-325). Nonetheless, disagreements among scholars exist in two areas: first, in drawing the boundary around civil society space, and second, in extending civil society studies beyond the normative approach. Boundaries of Civil Society Diamond and Howard exclude “individual and family life, inward-group activity” (Diamond, 1994, p. 5) and personal networks (Howard, 2003, pp. 107-108), whereas Henry and Sundstrom omit revolutionary organizations that use violence and criminal groups (Henry & Sundstrom, 2006, pp. 324-325). Alagappa highlights collective action in the pursuit of the public good by nonstate, nonmarket groups (Alagappa, 2004, p. 32). Similarly, Giersdorf and Croissant include actors who “formulate and organize interests, values and demands of public concern” in this public sphere (Giersdorf & Croissant, 2011, p. 4). This thesis objects to drawing strict boundaries between social spheres; rather, it seeks to investigate civil society and its overlapping areas with other spheres of social and political life. Social life occurs in five major spheres: economic, political, state, civil and uncivil (Figure 1). 4 The rules of the game are different in each sphere. The state provides many public goods (i.e., distribution of wealth, provision of national security, public safety, and well-being). Although state-society relations are described as confrontational, Alagappa argues, “the state and civil society are mutually dependent for survival” (Alagappa, 2004, p. 37). There is an overlapping space between civil society and the state; this can be beneficial to both. Economic society – the market – also occupies a gray area, where, for example, business entrepreneurs, unions, and even civil society organizations sometimes cooperate but sometimes confront. Similar, but more intense relations occur in the overlapping areas between the political society and civil society. To obtain political power, politicians use civil society space to mobilize the public. The space for uncivil activities, which often features unlawful and violent behaviours, 4  Alagappa discusses briefly the interdependence between civil society andthe state, political society, and economic society, while Rosenblum and Post make a similar argument about civil society and government boundaries (Alagappa, 2004, pp. 36-39; Rosenblum & Post, 2002, pp. 10-12). Building on their arguments, I developed Figure 1 on the spheres of social life. 3  does exist in any state; however its size differs due to the state’s capacity to maintain law and order, as well as other cultural and societal factors. Therefore, there is an area of overlap between civil and uncivil societies. For the purpose of this thesis, I position civil society in the centre; however, we can place any of five spheres in the middle to investigate the areas of interaction and overlap with other spheres. Figure 1. Spheres of Social Life State  (power)  Civil society  Political Society  (profit)  Economic Society  (public goods)  Uncivil Society (violence)  The benefits of positioning civil society space in the centre are threefold. Firstly, it helps identify actors and activities in the overlapping areas in order to answer questions such as why, when, and how these activities occur and actors shift from operating in one of these areas to another area. Secondly, civil society space is dynamic; it expands, shrinks, or shifts into overlapping areas (Alagappa, 2004). It shows the existence of civil society, its size and its dynamics. Finally, it presents civil society as vulnerable to exploitation by different actors unless this arena for civic activities is respected and protected by law. Normative vs. Empirical (Inclusive) Approach Earlier works on civil society often employed a normative approach (Cohen & Arato, 1992; Shils, 1991; Diamond, 1994; Keane, 1998). They advanced thoughts on properties of the good society, as Heinrich puts it, “postulating what a civil society should look like, rather than examining the extent to which existing societies live up to this normative ideal” (Heinrich, 2005, p. 213). Democratization literature contributed substantially to linking normative and empirical debates about civil society by taking a more inclusive approach. A clear attempt has made by Hann and Dunn as they argue for a “more inclusive usage of civil society, in which it is not defined negatively, in opposition to the state, but positively in the context of the ideas and practices through which cooperation and trust are established in social life” (Hann & Dunn, 1996, p. 22). Now there is a growing body of literature about civil society that helps us 4  understand civic activities in non-Western contexts (Alagappa, 2004; Brook & Frolic, 1997; Glenn, 2008; Schak & Hudson, 2003; Evans, Henry, & Sundstrom, 2006; Giersdorf & Croissant, 2011; Uhlin, 2009; Henry, 2010). This thesis contends that civil society is a universal concept that embodies voluntary associations of citizens for the public good. Citizens of any state logically compete for inclusive, non-violent public space. The size of the civil society space depends on the nature of the political system and the ability/willingness of the state to acknowledge this universal desire of its citizens. Civil society retreats, emerges, consolidates, or regresses depending on the state’s control and degree of violence. As Alagappa argues, “[i]n theory, such [totalitarian, authoritarian, and paternalistic] regimes severely restrict or even eliminate the space for civil society….[i]n practice, totalitarian and authoritarian governments have not always been successful in controlling and manipulating civil society organizations and have proved even less successful in eliminating them….certain (non-state-sponsored) civil society organizations exist in fear of the state and often go underground” (Alagappa, 2004, p. 37). Giersdorf and Croissant demonstrate that in Malaysia, civil society groups are gradually emerging as challengers to the autocratic elites (Giersdorf & Croissant, 2011). Nonetheless, civil society space is better protected and respected in a democracy than in any repressive regimes. To recap, civil society is the space for citizens’ voluntary activities for public goods. If we situate civil society in the middle of other spheres of our social life, civil society boundaries overlap with all other spheres. Depending on the issue, timing, and other factors, actors freely operate in the civil society space as well as in overlapping areas. Although the civil society concept is elaborated by Western scholars, an open-minded, inclusive approach can produce an insightful analysis of civil society in non-Western contexts. This enables scholars to become aware of traditional and cultural elements which affect the institutionalization of civil society. 2.2 Institutionalization of Civil Society The civil society literature contains debates over two types of institutionalization. One focuses on the institutionalization of civil society organizations by addressing issues like material and human resources, channels to communicate with the state, and maintaining a closer link with constituencies (Evans, Henry, & Sundstrom, 2006, pp. 311-312). The other type concerns the institutionalization of the entire public space. “Actors in civil society,” as Diamond argues, “need the protection of institutionalized legal order to guard their autonomy and freedom of action” (Diamond, 1994, p. 5). Cohen and Arato emphasize the importance of the 5  institutionalized protection of three key rights (Cohen & Arato, 1992, pp. 441-442). 5 According to Alagappa, civil society institutionalization involves “a guarantee of fundamental rights, which in turn calls for a constitution, separation of powers, and an independent judiciary; an independent and accessible media; devolution of power and resources to local levels and nonstate institutions; acceptance of nonstate institutions as legitimate; and financially secure organizations” (Alagappa, 2004, p. 470). Unarguably, both types of institutionalization are vital to having a strong civil society that is distinct and relatively autonomous from the state, and from economic, political and uncivil societies. However, there are many factors that affect a civil society’s institutionalization. The foremost factor is the type of political regime. Because of their nature, totalitarian regimes are unlikely to acknowledge the existence of civil society (Alagappa, 2004, p. 37; Evans A. B., 2006, p. 48). Civil society elements under totalitarian regimes therefore remain underground or in diasporas. Authoritarian regimes may provide a limited space for citizens’ associations, but they often control and manipulate the civil society space for their purposes (Alagappa, 2004; Giersdorf & Croissant, 2011; Merkel, 2004; Hann & Dunn, 1996). Only democratic regimes legitimize the existence of civil society and provide institutionalized legal protection (Diamond, 1994; Linz & Stepan, 1996). State capacity is another factor. The greater a state’s capacity to provide public goods (i.e., security, safety, and welfare) and maintain law and order, the higher the institutionalization of civil society is likely to be. Two caveats should be highlighted. First, if a state has democratic governance but lacks the capacity (e.g., institutions, resources) to fulfill its commitment, civil society space will remain vulnerable to exploitation by various actors for their specific interests (e.g., political power, business gain, spreading violence) (Rosenblum & Post, 2002, p. 7; Alagappa, 2004, pp. 36-37). Second, wealthy states that have the capacity to provide public goods may limit or manipulate civil society if their regimes are of the repressive type (Smith, 2004; Ross, 2001; Ziegler, 2010). The third factor is the degree of political, economic, ethnic, and religious divisions within the society. If there is a high degree of struggle over these divisions, the civil society space may become the field for struggle among various factions, groups, and classes (Alagappa, 2004, pp. 464-465,499; White, 1995; Varshney, 2001). This situation creates not only difficulties for the  5  These key rights include freedom of thought, speech, and communication; freedom of association and assembly; and rights of privacy, intimacy, and inviolability of the person (Cohen & Arato, 1992, pp. 441-442) 6  state to maintain law and order, but also opportunities to limit or control the civil society space even in a democracy. The final factor is resources, which come from external and domestic sources. The external sources (e.g., from international institutions, governments, the private sector and diaspora communities) are important to increasing public awareness of the civil society space, to sharing expertise, and to promoting global networks. However, as Henderson argues, “the incentive structure of ‘the grant game’ encourages donors as well as grant recipients to behave in ways that hinder rather than facilitate civic development” (Henderson, 2002, p. 141). In new democracies, domestic resources are often limited and driven by the political agenda of domestic donors (eg., the state, political parties, businesses, charities, and private donors). Besides these factors, the institutionalization of the civil society space in new democracies often requires closer collaboration between a pluralist legislature, an accessible media, an independent judiciary, and the solidarity of citizens (Alagappa, 2004, pp. 50-52). 2.3 Actors in Civil Society There are diverse actors in civil society space and overlapping areas. The most agreed upon features of civil society agency, which consists of these diverse actors, are that it is voluntary, self-generating, self-supporting (non-profit), and autonomous from the state (Diamond, 1994, p. 5; Salamon, Sokolowski, & List, 2004, p. 10). Also, some recent studies discuss the effects of social and national movements, businesses or even criminal entities on civil society (Evans, Henry, & Sundstrom, 2006; Alagappa, 2004). However, there are two important criteria: “absence of violence and the absence of the will to dominate the entire public realm” (Alagappa, 2004, p. 35). Three aspects appear to be significant in studying actors operating in civil society space. The first is the actors’ goal: What type of end results are they aiming for? Are their goals connected to the delivery of public and collective goods, private profits, political power, or spreading violence? The second aspect is the actors’ behaviour: Are they pursuing their goals through violent or non-violent ways? The last aspect is the movement of actors within the civil society space, as well as in other spaces. Actors move freely within the civil society space and between the overlapping areas, depending on the degree of institutionalization of civil society, the type of issues, and other prevailing circumstances. At the same time, actors in other spheres operate in the civil society space as well as in overlapping areas. For instance, the media is obviously one of the influential civil society actors (Figure 2). But the media operates in all spheres. There is the state-owned 7  media, which usually operates autonomously from the state. Political parties sometimes run their own media. The business corporations also use media. Some media compete for profits and they serve whomever pays their bills, whether it is a private business or a political entity. The same applies to other actors. A business entrepreneur can use civil society space to mobilize citizens either to protect his/her interests for profit or to attain political power. The business communities also entice other actors in civil society by co-opting them; as a result, these actors serve the interests of the business communities but not of civil society. An actor who emerges from the civil society space leads the civil movements in the overlapping area between civil and political societies, and then moves into pure competition for political power. The statesmen and politicians can move into the civil society space after their careers end or they have lost their positions in the government or legislature. By initiatives of either the state or civil society actors, they may collaborate or co-opt in the overlapping area of the state and civil society. Leaders of civic movements in Eastern and Central Europe, like Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa, are examples of shifts from civil society to political society and then operate in overlapping areas between the state, political and civil societies. Therefore, it is of questionable value to single out collective actors or civil society organizations that are populating the public space. Rather, it is helpful to focus on their goals (i.e., public, profit, power, violence), behaviours (violent or non-violent), and interactions/movements not only in the civil society space but also in overlapping areas. Figure 2. Actors and Overlapping Areas  8  2.4 Internalization of Democratic Values The internalization of democratic values (e.g., the protection of civil liberties, pluralism, and democratic procedures) and norms (e.g., equality, tolerance, accountability, and transparency) is important for the strength and health of civil society and the consolidation of trust in democratic institutions. Particularly, in postcommunist societies, people need to internalize these values and norms to strengthen democratic institutions and to develop civic culture. 6 This thesis discusses two relevant aspects: the role of civic education programs and informal networks. Educational institutions play a critical role for citizens to internalize democratic values and norms, while informal networks and institutions play both positive and negative roles concerning trust in democratic institutions. The latter plays a more negative role when they are serving insular, exclusionary interests. For the internalization of democratic values and norms, educational institutions play a critical role, especially through civic educational programs. At the beginning of the 1990s, many postcommunist democracies needed to abolish the communist indoctrination system and to promote civic education. “For the first time ever,” Buk-Berge describes, “the education of ‘citizens,’ previously based on the aim of indoctrinating them into being builders of communism, had to be transformed into the education of citizens living in a democracy” (Buk‐ Berge, 2006, p. 534). Also, Tobin notes, “[p]reviously voiceless subjects under a dictator are now expected to know how to act as engaged citizens in a democracy: casting votes, staying informed, expressing opinions” (Tobin, 2010, p. 273). In postcommunist societies, educational institutions are the most appropriate institutions to provide civic education, which facilitates citizens’ internalization of democratic values and norms. The obvious reason is that other social networks of family, friends (of neighborhood, school, work, and factions), religious institutions and social media will not provide a systemic knowledge of citizenship in a democracy. However, civic education programs cannot be borrowed from developed democracies or build on past experience of communist indoctrination. They must be geared towards building new knowledge of democracy (including civil society) and citizenship while reflecting the country’s culture, tradition, and other social idiosyncracies.  6  Rice and Feldman identified four general attributes of civic culture based on Putnam’s 1993 work. They include civic engagement; political equality; solidarity, trust, and tolerance; and social structures of cooperation (Rice & Feldman, 1997, p. 1145). 9  As suggested by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Civic Education Study (1999) study, which includes postcommunist states as well as Russia, “civic education should be interdisciplinary, participatory, interactive, related to real life and should take diversity into account and be carried out in a non-authoritarian environment” (Tobin, 2010; Torney-Purta, Schwille, & Amadeo, 1999). In this way, civic education may contribute to the internalization of democratic values and norms. However, informal networks and institutions may undermine the internalization process by weakening trust in democratic institutions. As highlighted in many studies, informal networks and institutions also have effects on democratization (Helmke & Levitsky, 2004; Ledeneva, 1997; 2008; Rose, 1998; Warren, 2001; Edwards, Foley, & Diani, 2001). Some scholars argue that informal institutions undermine democratic norms and institutions (O'Donnell, 1996; Collins, 2002; Lauth, 2000; Hale, 2011). Others, like Helmke and Levitsky, focus on interactions between formal and informal institutions by arguing that informal institutions play different roles (i.e., complementary, accommodating, substitutive, and competing) depending on the effectiveness of formal institutions (Helmke & Levitsky, 2004, pp. 728-730). Along similar lines, Warren suggests that “associational powers are not inherently anti-democratic,” but they can work antidemocratically “if they are not balanced by countervailing associational powers, state regulations, or public scrutiny” (Warren, 2001, p. 208). Therefore, a balanced approach is useful to examine civil society organizations in postcommunist states because the role of informal networks and institutions increased in the postcommunist period as the formal institutions failed to function (Rose, 1998, p. 12; Sik & Wellman, 1999). Some informal networks based on ethnicity, religion, social class, and locality which were restricted during the communist regime began to operate openly and even gain formal status. But, when these networks start to serve exclusive, insular interests, they undermine efforts to promote democratic values and norms and also weaken the trust in democratic institutions. Informal networks and voluntary associations can play a positive role by resolving tensions without causing violence or negotiating exits when formal institutions fail to deliver public and collective goods. But if these networks and associations impose higher entry and exit costs for citizens, advance their interests in rentseeking, non-transparent, violent ways, or aim to disadvantage other voluntary associations, they undermine democracy. Religious and ethnicity-based networks, for instance, were prohibited during the communist regime, but they became important networks and associations in the postcommunist period to play both positive and negative roles in democratization. 10  In brief, civil society is the public space which is populated with diverse actors. To prevent improper exploitation and violence, civil society space needs to be institutionalized. Democratic values and norms need to be internalized by citizens, particularly through educational institutions. At the same time, the widespread use of informal networks plays both positive and negative roles the internalization of democratic values and norms, as well as in the consolidation of trust in democratic institutions. In particular, when informal networks promote clientelism, patrimonialism, and corruption, they weaken trust in democratic institutions. Above all, public space, institutionalization, actors, and the internalization of democratic values and norms constitute the analytical framework which will be employed to examine Mongolian civil society in the next section.  11  Section 3: Analyzing Mongolian Civil Society 3.1 Literature Overview on Mongolian Democratization and Civil Society Democratization In general, the literature on Mongolia agrees on two points: Mongolia’s deviance from the general tenets of democratization theories, and its therefore surprising consolidation process. First, scholars classify Mongolian democratization as a deviant case based on three features: geographic isolation from consolidated democracies, the absence of pre-history of democracy, and a low level economic development (Fish, 1998; Fish, 2001; Fritz, 2002; Fritz, 2008; Doorenspleet & Kopecky, 2008). Unlike European postcommunist states, Mongolia is geographically isolated from the consolidated democracies. This geographic isolation prevents Mongolia’s membership in the democracy-promoting international organizations (e.g., EU and NATO) and causes no significant geo-strategic and economic interests from the Western democracies. Mongolia does not have a history of liberal democracy. Following its 300 years of colonial history under China’s Qing Dynasty, Mongolia became a satellite state of the Soviet Union until its democratization in 1990. Due to a lack of industrialization, the Mongolian economy relied heavily on Soviet subsidies (Theriot & Matheson, 1985; Heaton, 1992; Fish, 1998). Second, scholars cautiously place Mongolia at the consolidation stage of democracy (Fritz, 2008; Carothers, 2002; Doorenspleet & Mudde, 2008). As stressed earlier by Fish and Fritz, Mongolia rated as an electoral democracy of a quality near the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, and the Baltic states, and higher than its two neighbours of China and Russia as well as all the former Soviet republics (Fritz, 2008; Fish, 2001). According to the 2012 ratings of Freedom House, Mongolia’s score remained in these ranks. 7 According to Fritz, Mongolia conforms both to Przeworski’s definition of a democracy and to Linz and Stepan’s definition of a consolidated democracy. Elections are free and truly contested, those in government stay within the boundaries of their constitutionally defined roles, and popular support for democracy is robust even in the face of economic crisis and widespread poverty (more than a third of the population live below the country-specific poverty line) (Fritz, 2002, p. 83).  However, scholars provide different explanations for Mongolia’s successful democratization. In his seminal comparative analysis, Fish proposed five causes that differentiate Mongolia from the rest of the postcommunist states, especially those in Central Asia. These include a scarcity of natural resources (i.e., oil and gas), geostrategic insignificance for 7  See Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House, http://www.freedomhouse.org (last accessed 21 May 2012). 12  major powers, the absence of regional power pretensions, the absence of a national father figure, and the institutional setting of a semi-presidential system (Fish, 2001). Although agreeing with Fish on some variables (especially geo-strategic insignificance), Fritz argues the combination of the following factors explains Mongolia’s “remarkably smooth transitions to democracy” (Fritz, 2008, p. 785): (a) a relatively well established statehood and stateness; (b) a high degree of economic as well as strategic external dependency; (c) democratic ‘contagion’ from Central and Eastern Europe through existing linkages; (d) a favorable constellation of domestic actors; and, (e) an absence of concern about social liberalization in the wake of political liberalization. In retrospect, the relevance of three features – geographic isolation from other consolidated democracies, the lack of past democratic experience and a low level of economic development – are gradually losing their importance. First, Mongolia’s linkage with the developed democracies has strengthened over last two decades (Batbayar T. , 2002; MunkhOchir, 2003; Wachman, 2010; Narangoa, 2012, pp. 81-82). Doorenspleet and Mudde contend that Mongolia’s geographical distance did not hinder the diffusion of democracy (Doorenspleet & Mudde, 2008). Mongolia became part of a beneficial diffusion network led by the US and identified itself with the post-communist states in Eastern Europe from the early stage of its transition (Doorenspleet & Mudde, 2008, pp. 826, 828). Second, Mongolia now has undergone 20 years of uninterrupted democratization; therefore, the pre-history of democracy is no longer as applicable to the Mongolian case. Rather, the Mongolian case has demonstrated that democracy can survive in a non-Western setting. Finally, the low level of economic development has not de-railed the democratization process. The simultaneous economic and political liberalizations, as argued by Pomfret, were self-reinforcing. According to his analysis, the traditional pastoral lifestyle, along with the privatization of the herds and the rise of the informal sector (esp., small-scale entrepreneurs), contributed to economic self-sufficiency, which has alleviated transitional economic challenges (Pomfret, 2000). Moreover, the assistance of donor countries and international financial institutions successfully re-structured Mongolia’s macro-economy (Fritz, 2008; Goyal, 1999). Since 2000, Mongolia’s mineral resources like coal, copper, and gold have increasingly attracted foreign investors and have generated potential resources to diversify its economy (Bulag, 2009, p. 132; 2010, pp. 99-100; Narangoa, 2012, pp. 83-85).  13  The democratization literature ends with cautious remarks about the uncertainty of Mongolian democracy for several reasons. First, democracy has survived, as Carothers notes, “in the most unlikely and unexpected places” (Carothers, 2002, p. 8). Second, some scholars are doubtful of the government’s ability to avoid the “resource curse” as foreign investments in mining of copper, coal, uranium, gold deposits grow (Fish, 2001; Fritz, 2008; Reeves, 2011). As hinted by Fritz, “some external players have a preference for an authoritarian system in the country” (Fritz, 2008, p. 784). Finally, corruption stands as the most critical challenge for Mongolia despite efforts to fight against it. The mining boom may exacerbate competition among domestic factions and increase the involvement of foreign investors in domestic politics (Fritz, 2007). 8 The democratization literature on Mongolia seems to be overlooking one important aspect – a genuine desire for and popular support for democracy among Mongolians. The literature overemphasizes the external factors such as contagion from the Eastern and Central Europe and Western consultancy. In fact, the Mongolian democratization process was selfmotivated and contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Mongolians themselves conducted their first multiparty election in June 1990, which was prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. 9 Unlike the economic restructuring, Mongolians have been in charge of the political reform from the beginning because there was no Western presence or interest in Mongolia at that time. Moreover, democracy has been perceived by political elites and public as way of preserving the country’s independence because adherence to democracy strengthens Mongolia’s identity as different from its neighbours. Civil Society Mongolian civil society is mentioned at the margins of the democratization literature. There is a general acknowledgment of “vibrant” and “strong” civil society in Mongolia (Fish, 1998; Fritz, 2002; 2008; Doorenspleet & Mudde, 2008; Severinghaus, 1995). Scholars have 8  th  According to Transparency International, Mongolia’s corruption index regressed from the 99 out of 163 countries in 2006 to 120 out of 183 countries in 2011, available at www.transparency.org. The arrest of Mongolia’s third president on April 13, 2012 on corruption charges demonstrates interesting dynamics. First, it was applauded by the public as an important step towards fighting corruption. Second, it reveals the competition between domestic business and political factions. Third, external players (the US government, politicians, and UK lawyers) explicitly pressured the Mongolian government. See “Ex-Leader’s Detention Tests Mongolia’s Budding Democracy,” New York Times, 13 May 2012; “Former Mongolian President Nambar Enkhbayar Is Bailed,” BBC News 14 May 2012; and “Mongolia Was Under Pressure Over Presidential Detention,” Wall Street Journal, 15 May 2012. 9 It is important to note that the Soviet Union had competitive multi-candidate elections in 1990 (Helf & Hahn, 1992), but the multiparty elections did not begin until 1993 (Slider, Gimpel'son, & Chugrov, 1994; Colton & Hough, 1998). 14  mentioned the names of a few Mongolian civil society organizations, emphasized the role of the limited external supports (Fish, 1998; Fritz, 2002), and observed a short period of strong prodemocracy civil society activity during the transition (Doorenspleet & Mudde, 2008, p. 818). Fritz’s 2002 and 2008 articles provide a little more analysis on Mongolian civil society. For one, she observes the growing role of civil society organizations in governance, particularly to fight corruption and bureaucratic malpractice (Fritz, 2007, p. 201). Second, she draws an interesting lesson from the Mongolian case – “that if parties are important for democratization, then assistance to parties – alongside assistance to civil society – should be a key avenue for external promotion of democracy” (Fritz, 2002, p. 96). Finally, Fritz highlights need for substantial development in “civic engagements and links between civil society and policy makers” (Fritz, 2002, p. 81). The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Bank (WB), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Asia Foundation (TAF), and the Mongolian branch of the Open Society Institute (OSI) commissioned papers on Mongolian democratization. So far, the World Bank has commissioned the most comprehensive report, Civil Society in Mongolia’s Development and Governance (2005). The report examines civil society capacities and the enabling environment for civic engagement. With regard to capacities, it concludes that “civil society organizations tend to be small, dispersed, highly dependent on short-term grant funding from donors and international organizations, and heavily concentrated in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar” (Finch, 2005, p. vi). Despite a favorable policy and legal environment for civil society organizations, “physical constraints, including Mongolia’s harsh climate, large territory, and limited infrastructure, as well as poverty and vulnerability affect the ability of significant proportions of the population to participate in governance and development activities” (Finch, 2005, p. vi). Besides the World Bank’s 2005 report, no substantial study has been devoted to civil society. Therefore, the sustenance of democracy and civil society in Mongolia deserves in-depth analyses and the following section makes a modest contribution toward such analyses. 3.2 Openness of Civil Society Space Civil society space does exist in contemporary Mongolia as a result of the peaceful democratic revolution in 1990. The term civil society translates easily into its Mongolianlanguage equivalent. 10 The existence of civil society space and dynamics in the overlapping  10  ‘Иргэний нийгэм’ [Irgenii niigem]: ‘иргэн’ [irgen] means ‘civil’ or ‘citizen’ and ‘нийгэм’ [niigem] ‘society.’ 15  areas, especially with the state, political society and economic society, are quite observable. In the absence of armed conflicts, elements of uncivil society appear to be under control. The Mongolian case affirms that only democratic government provides more space for civic activities than the totalitarian and authoritarian regimes do. Some degree of public contestation for autonomous civil society space exists in any nation-state; however, repressive regimes in Mongolia never permitted independent civic activities. The totalitarian regime under the dictator, Choibalsan, launched massive purges against his political competitors, nationalists, critical intellectuals, and monks. Although the numbers are significantly disputed, in 1921-1941, nearly 100 thousand people were executed by the Soviet and Mongolian secret police. Families, relatives, and friends of these people were also marginalized from the society and remained under the government surveillance (Sandag & Kendall, 2000, pp. 173, 175; Batbayar, 1999). When the “fatherly leader” died in 1952, as Rupen puts it, “Mongolia went from a cult of personality to control by bureaucracy” (Rupen, 1979, p. 73). A Soviet-educated economist Tsedenbal became the Prime Minister. He implemented massive economic reform and strengthened the communist party-run political system (Sanders, 1987; Rupen, 1979). 11 Although the brutality of the communist regime softened, the communist party maintained its surveillance, indoctrination, and purges. For instance, in 1956, the Mongolian communist party, like other communist governments, encouraged the public to openly criticize the party policies. 12 Intellectuals and regular citizens expressed their views on the lack of political liberty (election, open debates), promotion of Mongolian national identities, development of national industries, and broadening relations with the Western states. After several months, the communist party leaders punished a number of critical intellectuals under the “Intellectual Deviance” case through the internal party disciplinary procedures. Many of them were demoted and discharged from the party. 13 The communist government reluctantly loosened its control over the public space starting in the mid-1980s. The public, especially intellectuals and journalists, criticized the party’s policies and aspects of Soviet-Mongolian relations (Jarrett, 1988, pp. 78-85; Sanders, 1989, pp. 48, 51; Sanders, 1990, pp. 65-66). In the fall of 1989, a reform-minded group of people used the annual “Young Artists’ Convention” as the first public forum to discuss political and economic 11  Yu. Tsedenbal held power until 1984 and succeeded by moderate party leader J.Batmunkh (Sanders, 1985). th Following Khrushchev’s secret speech at the 20 Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, most communist governments began to allow criticism regarding party policies (Hudelson, 1993; Swain & Swain, 1998; Fowkes, 1993; Cheng, 2005). 13 There is no scholarly source available in English. For Mongolian sources, see (Boldbaatar & Dashdavaa, 2005). 16 12  reform. The event was attended by high ranking party officials in charge of culture. Soon after, the first street demonstration was organized on 10 December 1989 and many demonstrations followed afterwards (Kaplonski, 2004). After the hunger strike by the democratic opposition in March 1990, the Political Bureau of the communist party agreed to dismiss all its members, relinquish the communist party’s leading role, organize the multiparty election, and dismantle the communist party organizations in the security forces (Heaton, 1991; Fritz, 2008, pp. 771772). J. Batmunkh, General Secretary of the communist party at that time, ruled out the use of force against the opposition, and instead forced all members of the Political Bureau to resign (Heaton, 1991; Kaplonski, 2004, p. 67). As a result, secret police surveillance over democratic opposition and citizens ceased (Batsuuri, 2002, pp. 110-112; Kaplonski, 2004, pp. 78-79). Communist party organizations in the military, para-military, intelligence agencies, and police were abolished; and members of security forces were restricted from joining any political activities (IDS, 1996, p. 526; IDS, 2001, p. 339; Batsuuri, 2002). The political sphere was opened for political parties, movements, and actors with diverse views. At the same time, the communist party leaders attempted to separate the state and party positions that were closely intermingled (Heaton, 1991, pp. 50-54). The party propaganda apparatus stopped its indoctrination and censorship duties, and the media and education were gradually freed from one-sided propaganda. Unlike previous repressive regimes, the democratic regime provides more space for civil society. First, the state has no systemic control, manipulation, and intimidation over civil society space and people’s lives. Any attempts to impose regulations over civil society space encounter serious scrutiny from the media, CSOs, and the public. Second, civil liberties (e.g., freedom of expression, assembly, association, movement, and religion) and human rights are recognized by the Constitution and adhered to by the state institutions (Constitution of Mongolia, 1992; Ginsburg & Ganbold, 1996). Finally, international organizations, Western governments, and human rights watch groups have acknowledged Mongolia as a “free” democratic country since its establishment of the democratic governance. 14 In spite of occasional incidents, elements of  14  See Mongolia: Common Country Assessment, UNDP (2005), available at http://www.undp.mn/publications/CCA_final_2007_2011, Mongolia – European Community Strategy Paper, European Union (2007), available at http://www.eeas.europe.eu/mongolia/csp/07_13_en.pdf, the US State Department Background Note on Mongolia, available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2779.htm, and Freedom House ratings, available at http://www.freedomhouse.org. 17  uncivil society remain under the control of law enforcement. 15 Civil society space does exist in contemporary Mongolia. 3.3 Institutionalization Two types of institutionalization are occurring in Mongolia. The first is the institutionalization of civil society space and the second is the institutionalization of civil society organizations. The former concerns institutional protection of public space while the latter refers to resources, channels, and constituencies of the CSOs. Although these are positive trends, the civil society space is not fully institutionalized. Fundamental rights are guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution (Ginsburg & Ganbold, 1996, pp. 156-160). The constitution highlights that the supreme objective for the state is “to develop humane, civil, and democratic society” (Constitution of Mongolia, 1992). A set of new laws were approved by the parliament to provide more legal protection for civic activities. For example, the “Law on Demonstration and Gatherings” (1994) prohibits conducting surveillance, restricting freedoms, and discriminating against organizers and participants of public demonstrations. “The Law on Non-Governmental Organizations” (1997) provides specific legal protections for civil society organizations (Ginsburg, 1998, p. 65). It defines non-governmental organizations as “non-profit, non-state, and self-governing organizations, which are voluntarily organized on the basis of public and other interests and beliefs.” The law also categorizes nongovernmental organizations as existing for public benefits or membership benefits. According to the Open Society Institute report, 80 percent of the registered non-governmental organizations are for public benefit (OSI, 2005). The registration procedure for civil society organizations is not complicated (Finch, 2005). It requires few materials for the state registration and submission of annual reports. Since 2003, the Ministry of Justice and representatives of civil society organizations have been debating the draft law on non-profit organizations (Finch, 2005; CIVICUS, 2005; OSI, 2004). According to the current draft, it may introduce “a series of licensing requirements to start operations,” and “provisions could subject NGOs to increased government regulation and restrictions” (ARD, 2010, p. 12). There are two significant weaknesses in the institutionalization of the civil society space. First, civil society organizations and media often lack access to information and a voice in the 15  There were some violent incidents. The violent rioting after the disputed parliamentary election occurred on July 1, 2008 (Mendee & Last, 2008; Oleinik, 2012). Some ultra-nationalist, xenophobic groups, which are registered as CSOs, have called for violence and intimidation against Chinese nationals. More recently, in September 2011, environmental activists shot at properties of foreign mining companies, accusing them of violating environmental protection laws. 18  government decision-making and law-making (Severinghaus, 2001, p. 63). Second, the overall weakness of the judicial system does not allow sufficient legal protections for civic activities from harassment by business and political factions (ARD, 2010, p. 12). The state institutions lack resources to improve institutional capacities to protect the civil society space. The institutionalization of civil society organizations in Mongolia is complicated and requires in-depth study. In 1997, there were 600 non-governmental organizations (Finch, 2005, p. 6). This number increased to 6,000 by 2007 (ARD, 2010, p. 12). However, a USAID assessment indicates that only 10 percent are active and that women dominate from the leadership to support staff (ARD, 2010, p. 12). The World Bank study notes that only 10 percent of registered non-governmental organizations are based outside of the capital city (Finch, 2005, p. 6). OSI states that 77 percent of the registered non-governmental organizations are in the capital city and 23 percent operate in the countryside (OSI, 2005). Considering that 70 percent of the population live in urban centres, mostly in the capital city, the OSI estimate might be realistic and not necessarily indicate rural civil society weakness. 16 Finch identifies the most prominent areas of activities (Table 1) and observes that “organizations playing a primarily social function are the most numerous” (Finch, 2005, p. 6). Although numbers differ significantly, about 400500 non-governmental organizations have permanent staff, regular sources of funding, and activities (Finch, 2005, p. 6). There are no verifiable data on the membership size, scope of outreach activities, and budgets of these organizations. Table 1. Major Activities of NGOs Active in the Social Sector Activities Percentage Public awareness raising 25.0 Provide service to its members or society, implement projects, programs 22.5 Conduct professional activities in specific sectors 17.5 Organize training and disseminate information 15.5 Conduct research and study, consulting 12.5 Promote business development 5.0 Develop friendship and cooperation 2.5 Source: UNDP, “Survey Report on NGO Implemented Assistance in Social Sector in Mongolia,” Ulaanbaatar, October, 2000 (Finch, 2005)  The OSI report, although outdated, found that 59.5 percent of the non-governmental organizations rely on foreign donors, 27.9 percent are self-sufficient, and 12.6 percent rely on donations and fundraising (OSI, 2005). These organizations have varying number of volunteers – only the Mongolian Volunteers Association (2,230 volunteers) and the Mongolian Women’s 16  The 2010 Population and Housing Census, National Statistical Office of Mongolia, available www.toollogo2010.mn 19  Association (1,715) have the highest number of volunteers (OSI, 2005), while the rest have fewer than 200. There are several challenges for the institutionalization of the civil society organizations. The foremost is the regular source of funding. Without sufficient funding, the civil society organizations could not maintain permanent staff and outreach to constituents. Although there are a number of donors like The Asia Foundation (TAF), the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF), Mercy Corps, the Soros Foundation, Peace Winds and United Nations agencies, there are “relatively few opportunities for non-governmental organizations receive funding for long-term initiatives” (Finch, 2005, p. 22). The state and political parties provide limited funding for non-governmental organizations to deliver social services (e.g., to vulnerable groups) and conduct studies (OSI, 2005). But, this funding is provided often on a short-term basis. The accountability and transparency of the non-governmental organizations are the second major challenge. Despite the annual reporting requirement to the Ministry of Justice, documents pertaining to specific civil society organizations are not available to the public. The linkage between non-governmental organizations and grassroots constituents appears to be the third challenge. Most non-governmental organizations operate mainly in urban centres. A few postcommunist “inheritor” organizations such as the Mongolian Trade Union, the Red Cross, the Chamber of Commerce, and the women’s and children’s associations seem to have greater outreach because of pre-existing networks and facilities (CIVICUS, 2005, p. 3). The rest have sought all possible ways (e.g., foreign and domestic donors, forming a coalition, seeking profitmaking opportunities) to survive in a competitive environment. This is challenging, especially, for civil society organizations in rural provinces due to low population density, poor infrastructure, and limited resources. Related to the institutionalization process, there are several ongoing efforts to establish channels between the state and civil society organizations. In 2008, the government issued a resolution to increase collaboration with civil society organizations by transferring some government services to them. The Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism concluded an MOU with environmental civil society organizations while the state-owned mining enterprise (i.e., Erdenes LLC) and the Independent Authority against Corruption welcomed civil society representatives to their governing boards. From 2009, the government also agreed to celebrate “Civil Society Day” to allow civil society representatives to meet with the president, prime minister, and chairman of the parliament, to organize the annual state and civil society forum, and to publicize civil society activities. Although this event provides the state and civil society  20  representatives an opportunity to consult, the day is crowded with ceremonial events and media exposure rather than substantive discussions. If these efforts were intended to co-opt civil society organizations and assuage public discontent domestically, the government is also attempting to raise its international profile regarding civil society. Two examples are relevant. Mongolia joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives in 2005 and established its secretariat with civil society representatives. However, it did not address the real environmental problems caused by the mining companies. The other example is “The Concept of State to Provide Sustainable Development for Civil Society,” which was drafted by the Prime Minister’s Office along with civil society representatives. Even though the document introduces new concepts like social capital and the public arena, it will not make much practical contribution to civil society development. 17 The reason for the government’s urgent attention to civil society can be explained in connection with Mongolia’s chairmanship of the Council for a Community of Democracies. Mongolia assumed the chairmanship in July 2011 and will host the next ministerial conference in 2013. 18 If the concept is approved by the parliament, it would be a good contribution to the government’s international image, but not a contribution to civil society. The state and civil society interactions need more careful examination; co-optation and marginalization of critical civil society organizations (e.g., local environmental non-governmental organizations and movements) appears to exist to some extent. Overall, the institutionalization of the governance of civil society space and civil society organizations is ongoing. Although institutional frameworks for the protection of the space for civic activities have been created, the state lacks resources to implement these frameworks fully. At the same time, requirements and institutional settings for transparency and accountability of civil society organizations do not exist. Talks about devolution of state power and resources, as well as state-civil society cooperation, exist, but no visible results have been produced. Because civil society space is not fully institutionalized, civil society remains vulnerable to exploitation by various actors for their specific purposes rather than common public interests. 3.4 Actors The Mongolian civil society space is populated by diverse actors. They operate freely in the civil society space and its overlapping areas. Political parties, business groups, and politicians provide resources and even protection for civil society organizations. Also, media, 17 18  The draft as of 12 March 2012. For info on the Council for a Community of Democracies, http://www.ccd21.org/activities/index.html 21  which plays an important role in civil society, is vulnerable to pressures from political and business factions. Even though foreign donors are much needed for civil society development, their assistance, presence, and outreach are limited. There are two major political parties: the “inheritor” of the communist party (Mongolian People’s Party (MPP)) and the Democratic Party (DP). In the past five parliamentary elections, both parties remained powerful political forces, except in 2000 when the MPP had a landslide victory, taking 70 out of 76 seats (Batbayar T. , 1993, pp. 61-63; Ginsburg, 1997, p. 61; Severinghaus, 2001, pp. 60-63; Tuya N. , 2005, pp. 67-69). Both parties attempt to assert their influence in state institutions by posting higher ranking party officials in the state institutions. This politicization of state institutions (especially the judiciary and law enforcement agencies) weakens the state’s capacity to uphold ‘the rule of law.’ At the same time, political parties also post their members at the state-owned enterprises, such as Erdenet copper mine, UB Railway, Mongolian Airlines or those ministries and agencies that handle tenders, privatization (land, real estate), foreign assistance and customs. All are identified as being the main sources of corruption (Fritz, 2007, p. 196; USAID, 2005). Also, parties have enlisted business entrepreneurs since the late 1990s. 19 As a result, the two political parties have become the most powerful and resourceful institutions, while state institutions have become politicized. Parties sponsor their own affiliated civil society organizations (e.g., associations of students, youths, women and veterans, as well as movements). 20 Since 2000, civil society organizations that are critical of government policies and bureaucratic malpractices have explicitly sought protections from political parties in order to avoid politically motivated prosecution. 21 Business enterprises and entrepreneurs also operate in the civil society space. Business enterprises, particularly mining and construction companies, attempt to assuage public opposition to their projects by providing assistance to local communities, allying with the local  19  According to various sources, the majority of Mongolian politicians have backgrounds in or connections with private business. For instance, there are a number of wealthy business entrepreneurs who have held ministerial posts, including the current prime minister. Business background information is available from the Independent Authority against Corruption (www.iaac.mn/pdf/tailan/songogdogchid2008.pdf). 20 The MPP has the Veteran`s, Mongolian Youth`s, Women`s, and Mongolian Students` Associations, available at http://www.nam.mn/index.php/man/nongovernmentorganization (accessed on 25 May 2012). The DP has the Democratic Youth Association and the Democratic Women`s Association, available at http://www.demparty.mn/. 21 There were numerous incidents of politicians or civil society leaders who sought protection from the political parties. The latest example is leaders of the ``Citizens Movement for the Creation of a Just Society`` and other movements became members of the DP in order to be protected from the criminal investigation concerning the st July 1 riots in 2008. See “Irgenii hudulguunii namiin udirdlaguud Ardchilsan namd elslee” [Civic leaders joined in the Democratic Party], 25 September 2008, Olloo Online News, (http://www.olloo.mn/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=1137206). 22  authorities or buying off opposing civil society organizations. This may also encourage rentseeking behaviours of the civil society organizations and, at the same time, endangering the autonomy of civil society. 22 Business entrepreneurs become influential civil society actors. For example, the incumbent MP Kh. Battulga, a well-known business entrepreneur, leads the Mongolian Democratic Union, the largest civil society organization. On 24 March 2012, Kh. Battulga presented materials concerning corruption allegations against the incumbent government officials to the Independent Authority against Corruption and Chief Prosecutor`s Office. In doing so, he brought representatives of the Mongolian Democratic Union and pledged the union would support the fight against corruption. 23 Like political parties, business entrepreneurs cooperate with the civil society organizations for their own interests by offering protections and resources for civil society actors and organizations. The media is an important actor. Even though freedoms of speech and of the press are guaranteed by law, Mongolian media freedom has been regarded as “partly free” by the Freedom House ratings (Fritz, 2007, p. 192). As noted in the Freedom House report, “although no direct government censorship exists, journalists complain of harassment and intimidation as well as pressure from the authorities to reveal confidential sources.” 24 Furthermore, the 2002 report states that “The gentlemen’s agreement between the recently elected ruling (former communist) Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MAKN) and publishers of the private newspapers resulted in an ungentlemanly, unpublished accommodation: the newspapers avoid criticizing the government in return for tax-free favors to the news media.” 25  Like the civil society organizations, media seek funds and protection from political parties and business groups (Nielsen, 2009). Politicians and government officials often file libel suits and tax audits against investigative journalists and media (Nielsen, 2009, p. 27; Fritz, 2007, p. 192). Besides politicians and business actors, civil society actors change their roles and goals. They run for political offices in the parliamentary and local elections. For example, leaders of trade union and associations compete in the elections to advance the interests of these 22  There is some anecdotal evidence, especially involving foreign and local mining companies that have provided bribes to local authorities in order to silence public discontent, as well as some civil society organizations that attempted to cut deals with the mining companies on behalf of the local population. 23 See Ugluunii Sonin, Daily Newspaper, 24 March 2012 available at news.niigem.mn/content/29136.shtmlÉselected=1. 24 Freedom of the Press 2011, Mongolia, available at http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedompress/2011/mongolia (accessed 20 May 2012). 25 Freedom of the Press 2002, Mongolia, available at http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedompress/2002/mongolia (accessed 20 May 2012). 23  organizations, but they have mostly ended up joining political parties. 26 Even if they do not win, they remain affiliated with the political parties while maintaining strong ties with the civil society organizations. Most leaders of civil society organizations of the early 1990s are good examples. Depending on the election results, they either become politicians or active players in the civil society space – by serving as board members, leaders or sponsors. Political parties use the civil society space to train their new generation of politicians, enlist well-known civil society actors, and increase their legitimacy. In this regard, Fish rightly notes that “groups in [Mongolian] civil society prepare leaders for high politics” (Fish, 1998, p. 137). Also, on the positive side, all actors refrain from violence. So, Mongolian civil society development appears to be following a more the Tocquevillian path, in which civil society facilitates civic interactions and skills to demand the responsiveness of the state and political institutions. 27 Within this complicated scenario, the support of foreign donors is critical. Unlike in the former Soviet republics, foreign assistance to civil society is highly appreciated by all political parties; therefore, foreign donors do not face any restrictions from the state. However, donors’ presence and assistance are limited. The TAF, the KAF, the Soros Foundation, the Danish Agency for International Development (DANIDA), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the International Republican Institute (IRI) assist political parties and civil society organizations. Scholars usually note a handful of Mongolian civil society organizations like the Liberal Women`s Brain Pool, the Women Lawyers Association, Women for Social Progress, and the Press Institute as examples (Fish, 1998, pp. 136-137; Fritz, 2002, p. 95; Severinghaus, 2001, p. 134). Foreign donors tend to work more with political parties and government institutions than with civil society. The KAF works with the DP and provides support to the party-affiliated educational institution, the Academy of Political Education. The TAF collaborates with government institutions and civil society organizations. Only the Soros Foundation and the DANIDA contribute solely to civil society development and a free press. Their Mongolian counterparts – the Open Society Forum and the Press Institute – have become influential players in the promotion of civil society. 28 So far, no systematic study on the impacts of foreign donors  26  A few examples are Odonchimed, President of Red Cross, Bolormaa, former President of the Mongolia Pioneer Organization (Bolormaa), and several leaders (Khurelsukh, Zandanshatar, Bold) of the Mongolian Youth Organizations who were elected to the parliament. 27 For discussion about Tocquevillian civil society, see (Whittington, 2001, pp. 21-32; Alagappa, 2004, pp. 40-43; Warren, 2001, pp. 31-37). 28 The Open Society Forum is run by Mongolians and organizes seminars and training (e.g., state budget monitoring, election monitoring, civic participation in law-making) and sponsors various studies on civil society 24  on civil society development has been conducted. Overall, foreign donors play important roles (e.g., providing expertise and resources and serving as a `watch dog` against violence and exploitation in civil society space), but their presence, assistance, and outreach in Mongolia are modest in comparison with their role in other postcommunist societies. Civil society is populated with diverse actors with different goals. Because it is not fully institutionalized and protected, civil society organizations seek protection and resources from political parties, businesses, and foreign donors. At the same time, some of these actors exploit the civil society space for their specific political and business interests. 3.5 Internalization of Democratic Values Democratic values and a sense of democratic citizenship are important for generating citizens’ interest in public engagement. In the Mongolian case, democratic values and norms are not fully internalized and trust in democratic institutions remains low. The civic education programs receive little attention and the widespread use of informal networks, especially those serving exclusive and insular objectives, undermines trust in democratic institutions. Following the political transition, communist values and norms were replaced by democratic ones that uphold civil liberties, human rights, separation of government powers, and the rule of law. These values and norms are reflected in the 1992 Constitution, the National Security Concept, the National Development Strategy, Governments’ Action Plans, and political campaign documents of parties and individuals. According to the last five years’ political barometer studies, participants continuously highlight legal justice, property rights, the free market, and equal opportunities (i.e., gender, education, profession) as important democratic values. Interestingly, a third of the respondents consider Mongolian democracy at a crossroads (Appendix). But political rhetoric and opinion polls do not mean that Mongolians have internalized democratic values and norms because this is something that takes generations. Educational institutions play a critical role for the internalization process through civic educational programs. In the Mongolian case, civic educational programs have received little attention for two main reasons. First, the entire educational system has suffered from the economic transition in that the state could not provide enough resources (Weidman, 2001; Altantsetseg, 2002; SteinerKhamsi & Stolpe, 2006). Second, the state began to focus on educational institutions only in 2002, after a decade from democratic transition (Steiner‐Khamsi & Stolpe, 2004). The laws on topics, including education (Enkhtuya, 2008). See Open Society Forum (http://www.forum.mn/). The Press Institute (est., in 1995) organizes similar activities in promotion of a free press. 25  education and primary education were passed in 2002, educational standards were approved in 2004, and other substantial changes (e.g., adoption of Cambridge standards) began in 2010. It is important to highlight that educational institutions were also impacted by frequent government changes as each government attempted to introduce new reform initiatives (Steiner‐Khamsi & Stolpe, 2004; 2006). Only since 2005 has the civic education program gained some acknowledgement. Until 2005, the subject called legal studies (Erkh zui) was the main subject that dealt with democracy and rule of law, but its focus was mainly to introduce the constitution and other laws. In 2005, the Ministry of Education introduced new subjects: “Human and Environment” for students in grades 1-3, “Human and Society” for grade 4-5, “Citizenship” for grades 6-9, and “Knowledge about Society” for grades 10-11. Each subject is required and taught one hour per week. Also, the “Civic Education” subject was included in the program as an extracurricular subject for all grades. All subjects were included in a two-volume textbook, “Citizenship” (Irgenshil). But, according to recent research on civic education programs, there are numerous gaps in the delivery of civic education programs at public schools (Tuya & Altangerel, 2011). First, democratic values and norms – which are stressed in the government documents – are not fully reflected in the strategy and policy documents of the Education Ministry and not even in the regulations of secondary schools. Second, the standards and methodology for civic education programs have not been formulated in comparison with other courses, many of which have been revised several times. Third, there is no training for teachers in the methodology of civic education. Fourth, courses are taught in an authoritarian environment which offers no opportunity for pupils to debate. Mongolia certainly missed two decades of opportunity to build civic educational programs that could have played a critical role in internalizing democratic values and norms. Another important aspect for the internalization of democratic values and norms is the role of informal networks and institutions. In line with the expectations of Ledeneva, Rose, and Sik and Wellman (Rose, 1998; Ledeneva, 2008; Sik & Wellman, 1999), informal networks and institutions became widespread in postcommunist Mongolia (Sneath, 2006; Byambajav, 2010). Obviously, many informal rules may have shaped formal institutional outcomes as Helmke and Levitsky predicted. However, unlike in Central Asian states (Collins, 2002; 2006), clan politics and religion have played no significant roles. In the postcommunist period, Byambajav argues, informal networks based on familial kinships, friendship and other social ties “constitute a  26  primary mechanism through which people gain access to valuable resources, such as information, money, social support and political influence” (Byambajav, 2012). Four main categories of informal networks prevail in Mongolia (Gankhuyag, 1995; 2002). They are familial kinship, classmates or alumni, co-workers, and neg nutgiinhan (people from the same homeland). The immediate and extended familial kinship usually includes up to 300-400 people, according to Gankhuyag (1995). Although some scholars argue that there is a strong sense of bonds and toward one’s kinship members (Gankhuyag, 1995; Sneath, 2006; Byambajav, 2012), these are still extremely loose and informal networks. This type of familial kinship in Mongolia is different from the clans of Central Asia because it is not a subethnic tie, is not institutionalized under the clan-based hierarchy, and does not constitute any type of ethnic or political representation. Classmates of secondary, vocational schools, and university classmates as well as colleagues of military services (e.g., 1-3 yrs of national service), constitute another type of important informal network. Co-workers (hamt olon – a workplace collective) are a “still important source of social inclusion and support” (Byambajav, 2012). Neg nutgiinhan refers to the network of people whose local ties facilitate interactions to support each other (Gankhuyag, 1995). The most common shared ties for people from the same homeland includes birth place, the native lands of one’s parents, and school or work-related past experience (e.g., military, party, or professional postings). These networks act in a similar manner as Russian blat (or in Mongolian ‘ariin haalga’ – ‘back door’) “to manipulate or exploit formal rules by enforcing informal norms and personal obligations in formal contexts” (Ledeneva, 2006; 2008, p. 119). The 2005 AsiaBarometer survey shows that Mongolians value these four networks more than others (Table 2). The value of workplace networks among residents in the capital city is higher than for people in the countryside. Understandably, countryside residents give more importance to these networks than do city residents. Table 2. Which of the Following Social Circles or Groups Are Important to You? Types of Networks\ Percent of Yes Family Relatives Native homeland Workplace School/University Ties Neighborhood Language/Dialect Political Party Labor Union Cooperatives Leisure/Hobby Religion  Ulaanbaatar (Capital City) 95.0 58.7 57.7 44.3 25.7 12.0 9.3 15.3 7.7 3.7 8.0 6.3  Provinces (Aimags) 97.4 74.8 80.2 36.6 29.0 22.8 19.8 9.8 8.8 10.0 6.0 4.0  Source: AsiaBarometer 2005 29  29  The 2005 AsiaBarometer survey included Mongolia. Survey data are available at www.asiabarometer.org 27  Of course, informal networks and institutions, as Helmke and Levitsky contend, play positive roles as complementary and accommodating of formal institutions. However, if informal networks and institutions operate in line with clientelism, patriomonialism, and corruption, they definitely undermine efforts to promote democratic values and norms and trust in democratic institutions. Corruption perception studies in Mongolia often acknowledge the widespread reliance on informal networks over formal institutions. 30 One reason could be along the lines of Granovetter’s argument that weak ties provide easy access to new information, resources, and services (Granovetter, 1973). 3.6 Cases of New Civil Society Institutions: The Citizens’ Halls and Homeland Councils The citizens’ halls and the homeland councils provide interesting insights. The citizens’ halls demonstrate how a new democracy localizes ideas found in other democracies, while the homeland councils are examples of how informal networks of previous regimes have been transformed into the most influential formal network between urban and rural societies. The former plays a constructive role in civil society development, but the latter plays both positive and negative roles. The first citizens’ hall (irgenii tanhim) was established in 2009 at the Government House. 31 Its main purpose is to provide citizens and civil society organizations an opportunity to participate in the law-making process. It was initiated by current President Elbegdorj and his advisors based on examples from developed democracies. The German Embassy, TAF and OSI provided technical assistance. 32 In the past three years, the citizens’ hall at the Government House was used to discuss draft legislation, amendments and the state budget, to debate over policies (e.g., city development, taxation, food security), to conduct hearings, and to hold an annual ‘town hall’ meeting with the president. The citizens’ hall at the Government House is administrated by the Presidential Office. The Presidential Office sets agendas, receives public recommendations, administers the debates and hearings, and reports outcomes to the public. The citizens’ hall uses all types of social media (website, Facebook, twitter) and broadcasts major debates. Events are usually attended by parliament members, government officials and experts. By January 2012, 15 out of 21 provinces, 5 out of 9 districts of the capital city, and the capital 30  For example, see (USAID, 2005). “Erokhiilogchiin dergedeh irgenii tanhim uudee neelee” [The Citizens’ Hall at the President’s Office Opens], available: http://www.vip76.mn/medee/uil-yavdlyn-medee/8299-eronxiilogchiin-dergedex-irgenii-tanxim-uudeeneelee.html (accessed 20 May 2012). 32 Opening Ceremony Addresses of the German Ambassador, TAF Country Representative, and CEO of the Open Society Forum, 15 December 2009, available at: http://www.irgen.org/index.php/irgenii-tanhim?start=28 (accessed 27 May 2012). 28 31  city itself established the citizens’ halls. 33 The citizens’ halls are mostly run by the secretariat of the local legislative chambers. The majority of these halls follow the handbook, Local SelfGovernance based on Citizens’ Participation (2010). 34 The idea of the citizens’ halls is localized in the Mongolian context. It shows the existence and impacts of civil society space because politicians are reacting, and trying to establish channels with civil society actors and organizations. But, the citizens’ hall reaches a limited number of citizens (ARD, 2010, p. 7), and could be used to strengthen the legitimacy of the presidential office, or to advance specific interests by claiming wider public support. It is even a bit early to distinguish the impacts of the citizens’ halls from similar efforts occurring among Mongolia’s neighbors: Chinese deliberative mechanisms (He & Warren, 2011) or Russian Public Chambers (Evans A. B., 2008; Richter, 2009). However, it has begun to serve as a channel for civil society actors to advance public interests. The homeland councils (nutagyn zuvlul) differ significantly as an institution from the citizens’ halls. The councils are self-initiated, self-funded, and self-governed, while the citizens’ halls are dependent on government initiatives, resources, and governance. To gain parliamentary seats, and provincial governance positions (i.e., governors and local legislative chambers of province and counties), politicians are increasingly dependent on the support of the homeland councils. The homeland councils play an important role in politicians getting elected, artists getting state awards, and even wrestlers getting the national wrestling ranks. For example, in last parliamentary elections, 56 out of 76 members of the Mongolian parliament represented ridings outside of the capital city, although over half the population resides in the capital. The revised Election Law (15 December, 2011) reduced the number of majoritarian seats from 76 to 48 by introducing 28 proportional seats. However, 34 out of 48 seats will still belong to provinces. Moreover, the homeland councils are a locally developed innovation. Their main goal is to facilitate communication between people in the rural provinces and counties with their natives who are presently residing in urban centres. The most common shared ties with rural provinces and counties include place of birth, parents’ native lands, home schools (e.g., secondary, vocational schools, and university), and work-related experiences.  33  “Update of the Establishment of the Local Citizens’ Halls,” the Citizen Hall Press Release, 10 January 2012, available at: irgen.org/index.php/irgenii-tanhim/135-3534546547 (accessed 27 May 2012). 34 The handbook was written by the Presidential Office experts who were in charge of the initial study, establishment, and management of the citizens’ halls. The handbook is available at: www.president.mn/mongolian/sites/default/files/it_nom.pdf. 29  The number of the homeland councils started to surge starting in the early 1990s because of the increased migration to the urban centres and the deterioration of public services in rural areas. Today each of the 21 provinces has its own homeland council. 35 Although the goals of the homeland councils have changed over time, there are several generalizable features. First, the homeland councils are registered as non-governmental organizations (Sneath, 2010, p. 258). The homeland councils of counties usually operate as part of the homeland council of the respective provinces. 36 Second, the management committee (udirdakh zuvlul) of the homeland council includes notable individuals (e.g., statesmen, politicians, athletes, artists, scholars, high-ranking military and security service personnel, and monks) who have ties with the province. According to Sneath, the management committee has 10 to 25 members and the councils have a membership of 30-60 members help to organize events and campaigns (Sneath, 2010, p. 258). Third, homeland councils organize similar events. Two annual events are worth mentioning. The Lunar New Year’s celebration is organized in major urban centres. Interestingly, governors and members of the legislative chambers of the province and its counties attend this celebration. The other event is the anniversary of the province. All members who reside outside of the province participate in this celebration which takes place in the home province. Fourth, some councils have veterans and student associations. The student associations are in charge of mobilizing students, alumni and organizing youth events (e.g., New Year’s celebration, parties, and sporting events). Although all councils operate in the capital city (Byambajav, 2012; Sneath, 2010), some have branches in other major urban centres, such as Erdenet, Darkhan, and Choibalsan cities. Fifth, councils organize fundraising or disaster relief assistance. Finally, all councils have their own regulations, and have begun to use social media (e.g., web sites, facebook), publish local histories, and reach out natives abroad. Undoubtedly, homeland councils are important civil society organizations, but some of their activities and their lack of transparency tend to work against the development of democratic institutions. For example, councils actively lobby for their natives to be posted in higher government positions and university graduates for employment in various organizations, including government services. As a result, this contributes to the growth of unofficial local networks within the public services and undermines the principles of meritocracy and professionalism. To secure ones’ political and business interests, politicians (esp., 35  Administratively, Mongolia is divided into 21 provinces and the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. The 21 provinces are subdivided into 331 counties (sum). 36 On some occasions, some provinces also operate on a regional basis, such as the homeland council for provinces of the Western Regions, in which several provides come together for certain events. 30  parliamentarians) engage in ‘logrolling’ and compete to distribute government funds and to obtain foreign assistance for their provinces. In addition, business entrepreneurs and entities provide financial assistance to gain the support of homeland councils. However, the financial aspects of the homeland councils remain nontransparent. Apparently, larger funds are devoted to organizing expensive anniversary celebrations. 37 Examples of the citizens’ halls and the homeland councils demonstrate the existence of civil society space in Mongolia. Two different types of institutionalization are occurring. The citizen’s halls are initiated and promoted by the Presidential Office. It is totally dependent on the will and resources of the government and politicians. In contrast, the homeland councils are selfinitiated, funded, and governed by citizens to promote local interests in national politics. Both venues are open to any politicians, citizens, and state and business actors to advance their public, collective, or even personal interests. These venues are promoting democratic values and a sense of democratic citizenship through encouragement of civic activities. However, the homeland councils, apparently, lack transparency and often promote clientelistic types of engagements with actors of the state and political and economic societies. This is harmful to healthy civil society development.  37  The homeland councils often present the most expensive awards (the most popular one – jeep – e.g., Toyota) for winners of the wrestling and horseracing competitions. 31  Section 4: Conclusion The analytical framework, which consists of civil society space, its institutionalization, actors, and democratic values and norms, provides an opportunity to examine the dynamics of civil society in connection with the state and economic, political and uncivil societies. Due to its inclusiveness and pluralism, civil society space often remains vulnerable and attractive to the state, political, business, and other actors who want to use civil society to advance their specific political and business interests. Civil society’s strength and health will depend on proper institutionalization. Repressive regimes control and manipulate civil society space; therefore, only democratic regimes provide adequate space for civic activities and respect for civil society actors and organizations. However, new democracies face a different set of challenges. First, state capacity is often weak and deteriorated by competition among different factions. Second, winners -- those who benefitted from political and economic liberalization -- often attempt to restore their bases of power not only in society but also in state institutions. Third, although the orientation of values and norms has changed, citizens have not fully internalized these new values and norms because of transitional political and socio-economic challenges. Similarly, trust in democratic institutions often remains low because of its limited capacity to deliver public goods and the lingering impacts of previous regimes. This undermines democratization efforts and increases the vulnerability of civil society. The Mongolian case demonstrates some interesting dynamics. The totalitarian type of regime institutionalized the most horrific methods of controlling its citizens and eliminated critical intellectuals along with their families and friends. The authoritarian regime, especially towards its last years in the 1980s, eased its control over civil society; but it still maintained ideological surveillance over its citizens and disseminated communist values and norms through educational institutions. Autonomous civil society has grown since 1990, but still remains weak and vulnerable to exploitation by various actors. Democratic values and norms have not been internalized by Mongolian citizens, despite their enshrinement in the political rhetoric. Civic education programs, as a valuable contributor to the internalization of new values and norms, have gained some importance only since 2005, but they require significant resources for their effective delivery. At the same time, the reliance on informal networks that encourage clientelism, patriomonialism, and corruption appears to undermine democratization efforts and the strength 32  of civil society. Mongolian civil society may look strong from the outside, but it is vulnerable from the inside.  33  References Alagappa, M. (2004). Civil Society and Political Change in Asia. Stanford, CA: Standford University Press. Altantsetseg, S. (2002). Financing state higher education in Mongolia: constraints and opportunities. Ulaanbaatar: Open Society Institute. Anheier, H. K. (2004). Civil Society: Measurement, Evaluation, Policy . London : Earthscan . ARD. (2010). Mongolia Democracy and Governance Assessment. Washington, DC: The United States Agency for International Development. Baker, G. (2002). Civil Society and Democratic Theory. New York, NY: Routledge. Batbayar, B. (1999). Twentieth Century Mongolia. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. Batbayar, T. (1993). 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(by percentage) 2008 2009 2010 Satisfied 28.5 24.0 22.7 Rather satisfied 40.8 45.6 41.5 Rather not satisfied 17.3 16.6 23.7 Not satisfied 8.7 8.3 8.6 No answer 2.7 1.7 1.0 Do not know 2.0 3.9 2.0 Source: Sant Maral Foundation (http://www.santmaral.mn/en/publications)  2011 19.1 40.2 20.7 15.0 1.3 3.7  2012 18.0 36.7 21.8 18.2 0.9 4.4  Table 4. Question on the Level of Democracy Some people think that there is too much democracy in Mongolia and that a dictatorship would make things better. Other think that we have a kind of dictatorship with no real democratic values. In your opinion, where does Mongolia belong on the spectrum? (by percentage) 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 We have too much democracy 12.4 13.3 11.8 8.8 11.0 We have a moderate level of 26.8 26.6 28.5 24.8 24.3 democracy We are at a crossroads 28.4 28.1 30.6 35.8 27.2 We have a moderate level of 16.1 16.5 16.4 15.1 19.9 dictatorship We are too dictatorial 4.9 3.3 4.4 5.2 7.9 No answer 9.1 2.3 1.3 2.7 1.3 Do not know 2.3 9.9 7.0 7.6 8.4 Source: Sant Maral Foundation (http://www.santmaral.mn/en/publications)  45  


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