Lately ads on a new film “Autumn symptoms” began to circulate around. The ads are pretty attractive and as such catches public attention. It’s been quite some time since more or less a political term “Spring symptoms” had emerged. But, probably, we’ve not yet heard about the “Autumn” symptoms.
We translate Symptoms as the complex symptoms or signs. Such as complex symptoms of acquired immunodeficiency. Complex symptoms means relapse of certain chronic diseases provoked by other maladies. It is not necessarily has to be an illness. As early as in 1962 Mr. Genden, chairman of the central committee commission on political repression observed and reported that social unrests tend to erupt in Mongolia during spring season. He wrote manifestations of social unrest and frustration, mostly, take place during spring.
But, indeed, there is the symptoms of autumn. This syndrome which had been observed repeatedly, in autumn, during last decade is a subject worth of study and analysis. The third quarter or autumn season in Mongolia, generally, is season of vacationing and rest. After annual national holiday in July people together with their friends and families take out-door vacationing and visit their relatives living in countryside. It coincides with numerous local festivals and worshiping of local deities of mountains and water. Worshipping of mountains and water comes from traditional shamanic belief and seek to please or invoke bliss of masters and deities of the area by offerings and consecrations. However, it will be more appropriate to view it more as an occasion for the local community to assemble for celebration rather than worshipping or protecting the nature. Mongols all love the Naadam celebration.
August: It is a period when the country’s political life reawakens. It is a month to prepare for a new academic year. People are concerned with preparations with their children’s school year. Commercials also turn to this subject. Concerns of households are centered on collecting the money necessary for annual tuition fee. It is a time of seasoning of wild berries and pine tree nuts, many pick berries and nuts to make money to meet school related expenses of their children. Though land farming has been privatized, as a relic from the old socialist system a wave of propaganda work to the effect that reaping bumper harvest is public cause is launched, the call we should immediate measures, before “crop is ruined by hailstorms”, “vegetable field is affected by cold spell”, still echo unabated.
Education authorities, in particular, those in charge of education loan, state scholarship work under pressure, disputes and complaints around the issue are widespread. Housing or hostels for new students arriving from the countryside becomes a burning issue.
Useful Statistics: About 160 thousand students attend colleges and universities in our country. Annual tuition fee, on average, is 0.8-1.5 million tugrug.
August Politics: For the very simple reason that protests or campaigns can’t attract many. Mass political rallies are rare. However, lately disturbances around mining began to occur during August which could be explained by the desire of local people to draw attention of parliament and cabinet members vacationing and working in the countryside to their concern.
September: New academic year begins, officials return from vacation, state services start running normally. In some areas first snow falls, cold season arrives. But in the countryside the celebrations and festivities swing even on a more grand scale. Because it is a season when the airag (fermented mare milk) which Mongols love to drink becomes most savoury and superb in quality, also herders by this time, generally, finish the arduous work of removing wools and hairs of livestock, storing milk and butter and have more free time. During this period country folks themselves began to feast, a lot of wedding ceremonies take place during this period.
Propaganda originating from olden days when livestock was owned by the state such as “To overcome winter successfully let’s fatten livestock on distant pastures”, “If (Zud)severe cold and snowy winter comes forage and hay will be the salvation” is launched by inertia. Herders, virtually, do not pay any attention to these propaganda calls carried out by public media free of charge. Because if zud (severe winter) strikes city dwellers will provide them the necessary help, if someone loses his entire herd, they can be confident that under the project to revitalize livestock breeding they will be given livestock and without any fear herders are immersed in their feasts and celebrations.
Severe winter and spring as well as heavy snow and dzud offer exceptional opportunity to forge an image of true patriot and good guy. Politicians organize humanitarian aid columns, give livestock to those who lost their herd, by airing and publishing in public media these activities they organize grand PR campaigns. Heating of apartment houses begins. Energy and heating tariff become a public issue. Energy sector is entirely state owned, therefore tariff and pricing have not been liberalized.
Useful statistics: Mongolia has over 40 million heads of livestock. 18 percent of population is engaged in nomadic animal husbandry. Annually during winter and spring on average 3-8 million animals perish. 12-14 million young animals are received annually.
September politics: During this period most of the households experience shortage of money in connection with payment of tuition fee of children. Because of this many review their income and salary and feel that they are being paid less, this a general mental attitude. Exactly during this period, it happens that parliament members visit their constituencies and meet their electors. Usually it is difficult to organize a meeting with electors in July or August and when people are back to their work places in September parliamentarians start meeting their electors actively. Due to (faulty) election system after meeting their electors in their constituencies parliamentarians (and candidates) end up with commitments which would have been responsibility of the government. Their promises and commitments start from distribution of cash to every households and include countless number of issues such as improvement of boarding school hostel heating, providing dental care instruments to soum policlinic, cutting heating tariff and fire wood prices etc. Electors demand from those statesmen not to respond challenges of national issues but resolution of local problems and everyday issues.
Well, one may assume that since parliament members adopt the state budget they could possibly decide issues related to increasing salary, but their demands include such incredible things, something like, as sending children of electors to Korea, providing ultra-sound medical appliances for soum policlinic, enrolling their children in institutes… waving US visa application requirements, disclosing spies among the Chinese workers etc. This means parliament members return with heap of issues on their heads which will, otherwise, be responsibility of Ministry education, Labor and social care, Aimag governor, Ministry of Foreign relations, possibly that of counterintelligence authorities. The honorable parliament member in order to find a solution to those problems heaped on him has to resort to some ways and means to make the concerned Ministries to work for their own constitutions. To do so he raises the scary issue of “reshuffling the cabinet entirely or firing a certain minister”. In the process he resorts to threat “If you can solve this issue for my constituency, I’ll not insist on your retirement”, thus manages to find resolution to some of the above issues.
Around this time a new business season of “civic” societies begin. And meetings and gatherings to demand pay increases, relieving from the post certain heads of state owned companies start. It becomes a prelude to events to unfold in the month of October.
October: Celebrations and feasts, at last, come to end and people start working normally. Preparations for the winter begins. Those living in ger districts start buying and stockpiling coal. These activities continue in November.
October politics: Sessions of Great state Hural begins on the first day of this month. People watch with interests developments of political events. What the president and opposition leader say at opening session catches people’s attention. In other words ordinary people who were more interested in celebrations and festivals during summer now begin to breath air of political developments. Various civil movements view this as favorable period for their struggle which could bring result in certain areas. Parliament members frequently engage in group and individual play. Because of seasonal nature of economic situation of the country measures to increase pensions and benefits, salaries of state servants are usually implemented during this period. It is also a time when state budget is discussed in parliament and its members are unusually active. According to law state budget is adopted after 3 hearings in parliament and it takes a lot of time. Members resort to various means to allocate in state budget financial resources required for building bridges, repair and maintenance of medical facilities and schools, a promise given by them to their respective constituencies. At the same time demonstrations are organized with to pressurize State Great Hural and demanding resignation of the government.
Useful statistics: Share state budget in GDP is about 40 percent. About two billion US dollars . Minimum monthly wage is 108 000 tugrug, an equivalent of 85 US dollars.
November: With approaching cold season slaughter of animals for winter provision begins. Herders stock for winter provision slaughtering a bod (a cow or other large animal) and several bog (sheep and goats) in most cases. A significant part of city dwellers also stock meat for whole winter consumption. Low price of meat during this period enables people to stock the supply. Criticism and articles addressed to power stations, companies in charge of heat supply network posing questions “whether they were prepared fully for winter” appear in increasing numbers.
November politics: Lively political climate continue to prevail. Hearing on state budget continues, according to law it should be adopted before December 1. By the end of this month climate of new year celebrations is in the air. Some enterprises starts observing celebrations of the new year. This is a tradition from the socialist days when organization or enterprise that has fulfilled the annual plan wraps up the its activities of the passing year and from that very moment was considered embarking on its activities of the coming year and celebrated the new year tree ceremony. At present “Offices and enterprises” usually hold their new year celebrations, depending on avalibility of space in restaurants and their workload, sometime in the second half of December.
Need for cash and “civil movements”
Season of social protests: During the last few years in our country civil protest movements shed off its political content and acquired a business meaning. The meaning of this is not to seek solution of problems confronted by certain social groups, but taking advantage of the problem to receive monetary payment. That is why in light of emerging seasonal needs for cash in households, activities of civil movements began to adopt seasonal nature as well.
Need for tuition fee: In August and September with beginning of new school year every households experiences acute need for cash to cover expenses related to purchase of text-books, new clothes, travel expenses to reach cities, tuition fees and cash for making living in cities for their children. But this coincides with the season of feasts and celebrations and it is almost impossible to take any political actions. Recently one leader of civil movement gave an interview and told “During summer it is impossible to wage political struggle instead of making money, it turns out loss of money”.
Need for cash to overcome winter: This quest for cash begins by the end of September and first decade of October. It includes cash to buy firewood and fuel for winter, price for heating of apartments and purchage of warm clothes and the like. Many families as tradition requires stock winter provisions. We speak about storing significant amount meat at a time to consume for the whole winter months.
Need for cash during new year: It starts by the end of November. Cash is required to celebrate the new year at Offices, among friends, attends shows, visiting bars, buying party dresses for the occasion. However, people usually spend much less here in comparison with Lunar new year celebration.
Cash for celebration of white month or Lunar new year: Mongolian traditional new year or Lunar new celebration occur from the end of January to the end of February. During this celebration everyone dresses up in new trendy clothes and visits relatives and greet them. During this celebration people like to talk about economic and political life of the country and hear the views of senior and influential citizens on this account.
Peculiar features of last part of 2010
Congresses of both main political parties will be convened during this autumn. Struggle will, apparently, unfold along the following four directions: a/ dissolution of joint government and let the MPRP form the cabinet alone; b/ make ruling MPRP lonely and weaken its power base; c/ as a result create before elections among the party ranks sentiments that “a leader to save the MPRP was needed”; d/ receive from people more favorable evaluation either by dissolution of joint government or by keeping it intact before the coming elections;
Actually, this process has started rolling. That was why during summer, on one hand, efforts were made in mutual interests to strengthen position of the joint government. On the other hand, significant amount of talks how to topple joint government were pursued.
The first course: If the MPRP alone forms new government, number of those in the party who hold the view in that case it is possible that the Prime Minister becomes a cabinet member will rapidly increase for they wait impatiently and in frustration for the “second serving” of the pie. At the same time those who want to hand the power to MPRP as soon as possible and make it to face repeated failures until it is completely paralyzed and its reputation is tarnished. They believe that this will bring defeat to MPRP in 2012 elections and enable Democratic party to emerge as the ruling party. Adherents to this course are gaining strength, their number among members of Democratic party is increasing rapidly. They are the forward looking guys who are now lining up to receive “the first serving” of next election pie.
The second course: In both political parties there are those who want to maintain joint government until next election they are interested in clinging to power as long as possible. For that they’d argue that joint government has not finished its job, delay signing of Tavan Tolgoi agreement and adoption of new election law as far as possible. Along with interest to keep joint government in place, interests to topple it is rising in the parties.
That’s why during the October session of State Great Hural it is possible that no-confidence motion to the government could be put before the parliament. It is possible that activities and demands of various groups interested in taking part in implementation of Tavan Tolgoi projects may give an additional push toward this end. To dissolve joint government opponents should have serious reasons to do that. They have to look for these reasons from the big projects it has implemented. It unavoidable that the most successful of these projects “Oyu Tolgoi” will be the first one to be affected. By painting in black this project the opponents will increase their rating and prove before people that they are indeed patriots, their views are based on science and economically sound, and that they love their people. At least it will be a good training exercise to prepare themselves for the coming elections.