In the Spring and Summer for 4 months in 2000 I travelled to Outer Mongolia. It is a country 3 times the size of France, with 1 million people in Ulan Bataar and 2 million people sparsely spread through the rest of the mixed forest, mountain and desert lands. In winter it can reach minus 50 Centigrade and in summer Plus 50 Centigrade in the Gobi desert. On the way there, by train through the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus & Russia, and over frozen rivers by Jeep, & while there and back, I made images for commissions, for a charity and for stories. Many were published in Trouw newspaper in the Netherlands and many were used by Stock libraries. These images here are my personal work, shot in Black and white film using a Rolleicord. I also took a FUJI Instax camera and made sure that everyone I photographed had an instant photo of themselves as I knew that many had no fixed address and it would have been impossible to post images to them.
These images were made in a time of intense social change. Mongolia was one of the first communist countries to be part of the Soviet Union. It was the third time since the collapse of communism in 1990 that Mongolian voters were electing a new parliament.
These images are intended as a document of my wandering nomadic journey through Mongolia, and of the occasional tension I saw, witnessed and experienced there of and by a very youthful populace country, on the eve of their third democratic elections. There were 1.25 million registered voters. 1 million people voted.
In 1996, a coalition of pro-democracy parties, the Democratic Union Coalition, had supplanted the former communists, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), winning 50 of the 76 seats at stake.
More than 600 candidates representing 13 parties, three coalitions and independent platforms took part in the July 2000 elections. Economic problems, especially slow economic growth, were the main focus in the electoral campaign. Despite an aggressive policy (reduction of the inflation, introduction of a five-day working week, abolition of State control of the country's media and a major privatisation scheme) conducted by the Democratic Union Coalition, trends in the previous four years seem to have worked against the coalition. Indeed, four administrations had come and gone, three deputies had been jailed in a corruption scandal and a cabinet minister had been murdered. Attempts to turn the economy around had raised unemployment to 50% in some towns, and a third of the country is now estimated to live below the poverty line. Moreover, thousands of nomadic families had lost their livelihoods owing to the worst winter in over 30 years.
The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, (MPRP), was overwhelmingly elected in with 72 seats .
The National Democratic party won 1 seat. Independants won 3.
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