Mongolia’s Political Ads, Part 4

The Lighter Side

This is a pretty self-explanatory ad produced by the Mongolian Peole’s Party. Set to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ (just like the Newt Gingrich team used this year), a boxer representing the People’s Party is training for his match. His opponent is a lazy and slothful representation of everyone else. Guess who wins.

Here’s another music video aimed at the younger generation. Several young musicians teamed up to record this song about uniting the country they love to reach it’s bright future. The song is called ‘We Believe’. A rough translation of the lyrics is below.

I believe, I believe our country has a future
I am loving and I am young and I believe in my future
Your life may be comfortable, but you shouldn’t be complacent
Our future is improving, let’s create a good future together
We believe we are one
Mongolians are equal to people in other countries
We have a goal and we are close
We have to be strong and we have to be united


An Introduction to Mongolia’s Political Ads

When Music Videos and Campaign Commercials Combine

Campaign Monologues

Mongolia’s Political Ads, Part 3

Campaign Monologues

The first ad to catch my eye was a video of a dramatic reading. A man stood alone on a stage with a microphone in front and a large movie screen behind him. He recited a monologue as quintessential Mongolian images flashed on the screen behind him. Not understanding what he was saying at the time, I let my attention shift to the images. Some of the shots were from archival footage, but many were from international productions like ‘Babies’, ‘The Story of the Weeping Camel’, and ‘Mongol’, which I thought was interesting, and not terribly surprising.

After seeing this initial commercial, I soon saw a second that mimicked the style of the first, but was for the competing party. According to a staffer for the Democratic Party, theirs was first. However, I have not contacted the Mongolian People’s Party to confirm this.

Here are the two ads along with rough translations:

Jujigchin Amaraa Olyylaa Yalna Shuu – Together We Will Win (Democratic Party)

I am the eighth child in my family
I have 5 sisters and 2 brothers, we are many
From childhood we would share everything
If we shared what we ate it would taste better
I can still remember the taste
I believe in my ability
First there were the words, ‘I have a dream’
These words represented many people’s dream
Because of Martin Luther King, the African Americans were free
One example is Barack Obama
I believe in the Mongolian mind – what we are all thinking
There were many good people that changed our future during the revolution
My words are important
We don’t want to repeat what happened on July 1st and so we chose Pres. Elbegdorj
We don’t want to see more fighting
Everyone wants to protect themselves so we must create the law together
Pay attention to what I’m saying
Many Mongolians live in other countries
But although they are gone, we are still here
Mongolia is still here
Mongolians who are abroad feel lonely – it’s hard for them
They want to come back and live happily
We are many but we feel like we are few
It’s now time to say, ‘Enough’
Remember what you did in the revolution
We will win together
My words are important, pay attention to them
The Democratic Party will win – You make the right choice
We must have a lot of support

Minii Khen Baikh Khamaagui Bid Bugd Neg Mongol – Who I Am Is Not Important, We Are All Mongolian (Mongolian People’s Party)

My name is Amara and my name is not important
But for me, the most important thing is the Mongolian destiny
I don’t want to say bad things about my friends from university after four years together
But my blood is Mongolian Blood and it’s very loyal
Every Mongolian’s blood is like this
I am a part of them
Mongolians have a treasure – we have power and we must be united
I don’t like using words like ‘election’ and ‘voter’ because during election time politicians will always lie
Democracy and freedom – these words are allowed
In a free country we can talk about democracy and freedom
Before you say, ‘I love Mongolia’, you have to be responsible for Mongolia
Passing judgement is easy, but taking action is difficult
I haven’t forgotten the first time I saw a cell phone in a movie
I haven’t forgotten when I was a child and we would try to make our own candy
I haven’t forgotten our parent’s generation, when everything was scarce
How long will we be fighting each other?
How long will the political parties fight?
Countryside people are fighting with each other
Towns are fighting each other
Friends are fighting each other
How long will we be divided?
We do not have as many people as Russia
We do not have as many people as China
We are just 2.8 million
We live our own lives, but our future, our air, our roads, our sidewalks are all shared
We are one Mongolia
Under the blue sky we used to play as children
Our history has been very hard, but our history has made us strong
We have learned from our history
I believe our bright future is very close
I am the new generation of Chingis Khan’s Mongolia
I have never bowed my head, I have never kneeled
I am Mongolian
We are Mongolians
Mongolia is equal to other countries – everyone is equal

SLOGAN AT THE END: Let’s create a nice life here in our country


An Introduction to Mongolia’s Political Ads

When Music Videos and Campaign Commercials Combine

The Lighter Side

Mongolia’s Political Ads, Part 2

When Music Videos and Campaign Commercials Combine

What could be better than a campaign commercial? One that is also an epic music video! I just discovered these today, and I’m so happy I did.

Music is an integral part of campaigns in America. Each candidate has their theme song, that familiar tune that gets cued up at the end of a fervent stump speech that the poor underpaid aids must be so sick of hearing by November.

In 2008, the Obama campaign used Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’. Then there was the celebrity-laden, ‘Yes We Can’ music video that went viral. Hillary Clinton used Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’. John McCain’s choices were troublesome, picking a series of songs written by democratic musicians who either publicly chastised or even sued him for unauthorized use including ‘Baracuda’ by Heart, ‘Johnny B. Goode’ by Chuck Berry, ‘Right Now’ by Van Halen, and ‘Running on Empty’ by Jackson Browne. He eventually settled on ‘Raising McCain’, an original by country music star John Rich. This year, Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been going with Kid Rock’s ‘Born Free’.

Mongolian campaigns go one step further with their music by producing several epic music videos with national celebrities and high production values. Below are a few choice videos from the Mongolian People’s Party and the Democratic Party, along with rough translations of the lyrics.

Bid Bigd Neg Mongol – We Are One Mongolia (Mongolia People’s Party)

Featuring several very famous musicians from three generations.

Our Mongolia comes from us, we are one because we are all born with the same blue spot
When we go to the countryside with the blue skies and yellow fields, our minds are cleared
The sky and earth meet at one point and if there is heaven on earth it would be in Mongolia
I am dedicated to my country
Through our destiny, our hearts we are like the blue sky and the sun, We are one Mongolia
Through our wishes, dreams and beliefs, we are one Mongolia

Haluun Elgen Nutag – I Feel Warmly For My Country (Democratic Party)

This is one in a series of videos produced in provinces around Mongolia. The song is a famous one here, one that everyone would recognize. The individual video is not particularly impressive, but the overall effect of having the same song sung in each province is meaningful.

When the flowers grow, it is becoming spring
The river is singing a song
The mountains look like they are smiling
I feel warmly for my country


An Introduction to Mongolia’s Political Ads

Campaign Monologues

The Lighter Side

Mongolia’s Political Ads, Part 1

An Introduction to Mongolia’s Political Ads

The Mongolian Parliamentary elections are taking place on June 28, just two days away. While the election cycle is considerably less lengthy than I’m used to back in the States (candidates campaign for a maximum of two months here compared to the year and a half I’m used to), the parties are now out in full force.

Everyday I see vans drive past adorned with party flags and faces of candidates plastered to the windows, blasting music and party slogans. When I’m home during the day, someone will inevitably knock on my door with party propaganda, look a bit confused when I open the door, and then just turn around and leave so as not to waste their time on a non-voter.

But the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about the campaign season is the advertising. Campaign commercials have always been my favorite part of the run-up to elections. I still remember my favorite spots from the U.S. presidential election in 2008: some post-modern videos produced by the Mike Gravel election team.

As I’ve been in Mongolia for most of the 2012 campaign and Republican contest, I have missed a lot of the gems being broadcast back home. And so when I started seeing what the Mongolian campaigns were producing, I was instantly intrigued.

I think the thing I enjoy most about campaign commercials is the insight they provide into the larger trends in a nation. Each party is trying to succinctly express the values that they represent while inciting the populace to adopt and support those values. They have to both broadcast their intentions and respond to the cultural and philosophical trends of the day.

Watching the videos put out by the two main parties in Mongolia, Mongol Ardiin Nam (The Mongolian People’s Party, formerly the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party) and Ardchilsan Nam (The Democratic Party) has been an incredibly valuable way for me to better understand the goals, passions, dreams, and frustrations of Mongolia in 2012. It’s a succinct window into the national identity.

Largely, the commercials have been reaffirming some of the ideas I’ve developed about Mongolian national identity in my time here. However, it’s much more difficult to get an average, non-political, citizen to articulate their own nationhood. And so many of my theories about what it means to be Mongolian today have, until now, remained tentative.

The themes that emerge from the campaigns (on both sides) are very in line with my own observations as an outsider. The desire to unite as Mongolians, the feeling that a bright future is within reach, the notion that it is only a matter of time until Mongolia is on par with the developed world, the connection to ancient Mongolia and harnessing the strength of Chinggis Khan, and the notion that although we are small, we are mighty. These ideas have all come out, much more subtly, in interviews and interactions I’ve had throughout the past eight months.

I hope that by sharing a few of these commercials, I can help shed some light on the Mongolian understanding of nationhood to you, my foreign audience.


When Music Videos and Campaign Commercials Combine

Campaign Monologues

The Lighter Side

Protest in Ulaanbaatar After Former President’s Arrest

Early this morning former Mongolian President N.Enkhbayar was arrested at his home in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The arrest was prompted yesterday when he released classified transcripts from official meetings that took place after the election riots of July 1st, 2008, when four civilians were shot and hundreds of people were injured. The bloody stain on Mongolia’s young democracy is known as the ‘July 1st Incident’.

Former President Enkhbayar being arrested

Current Mongolian President, Ts. Elbegdorj is one of many current government officials who are named in the transcripts.

According to the UB Post, Enkhbayar released a statement saying:

“I think the following documents will clarify what really happened. The 2008 Parliamentary Election was corrupt. The people have the right to know who is responsible. People lost their lives. I want to tell the truth about the incident. The discussion of the meeting of the National Security Council is classified information. This should be changed. Parliament and the National Security Council can change this. Because it is classified, the public is unable to receive correct information. I have met with the administrations of the party two times to discus this. I would like to turn over 300 pages of material.”

This afternoon, Enkhbayar’s supporters gathered in Sukhbaatar Square in front of the government building. They waved flags and listened to party leaders speak, mandating Enkhbayar’s release. Many foreigners were weary to venture outside, but what I witnessed was a largely peaceful demonstration. There were a few extra police on hand, but not many more than are normally patrolling the square. There were Mongolians from all ages and walks of life present – some observing from afar, others yelling and waving their hands in the air. After gathering in the square, the group marched around the government house.

However, there are rumors that Enkhbayar’s supporters from around Mongolia will be traveling to Ulaanbaatar in the next couple of days. Protests may escalate and a curfew may be implemented, but as of now nothing is official.

The July 1st Incident

Mongolia’s last legislative elections were held on June 29, 2008. Out of the 76 Parliamentary seats up for grabs, 43 were alledgedly for the Mongolian People’s Revolution Party (the ruling party of Mongolia from 1920 – 1996, just after the Democratic Revolution, and also the party of former President Enkhbayar). The Democratic Party, led by current President Elbegdorj, came in second winning 25 of the Parliamentary seats.

On July 1st, the Democrats led by Elbegdorj declared that the election results were fraudulent. At the time, Elbegdorj was quoted saying, ‘If most people voted for us why did we lose? We lost because… corrupt people changed the results.’

That evening anti-MPRP protesters gathered in front of the party headquarters in downtown Ulaanbaatar and set the building on fire. You can still see the charred remnants of the Cultural Palace just to the north which also caught on fire. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets against the angry protesters. Protests continued well into the night, past the police mandated 10:00 pm curfew prompting then President Enkhbayar to declare a state of emergency for the next four days. The army sent tanks into the streets of Ulaanbaatar and the government issued a media blackout.

In the end five people, all civilians, lost their lives in the protests. Four were shot by police and one died of carbon monoxide inhalation.

Upcoming Elections

The first legislative elections since the July 1st Incident will be held this June. The election process is much shorter than the drawn out marathon we have in the United States, and so many of the candidates have just now started running in their home provinces.

Some Mongolians I have casually spoken to about the events in the past 24 hours have said it’s a media stunt by Enkhbayar. Others are not quite sure what to make of it.

But almost everyone I’ve spoken with since I arrived in Mongolia has casually mentioned government corruption. Some of the musicians I’ve met with will blatantly call the government out through their lyrics. Others have grown more complacent, quietly acknowledging that they don’t know how it could ever change.

More Reading

Mongolia Calls State of Emergency – BBC, 7/1/08

Mongolian President Issues State of Emergency After Protesters Storm Party?s Headquarters – Fox News, 7/1/08

The UN Warned to Urgently Solve the Case of July 1, 2008 – InfoMongolia

July 1st Incident – Wikipedia

A man watches a press conference held by the police hours after the arrest of former Pres. Enkhbayar

Protesters wave a flag

Kids look on as protesters deliver speeches

An old woman looks on as a protester adds his name to a banner