Sunday 16 June 2024 | 18:43

Belarus in focus: Belarusian authorities forced to accept superficial changes to election rules

31.05.2016  |  Politics
Belarus in focus: Belarusian authorities forced to accept superficial changes to election rules

The Central Election Commission has kept the most criticized by human rights activists and the opposition voting procedures, which enable to guarantee the needed voting results.

However, the Belarusian government was forced to make formal and minor concessions to the key demands for changes in the electoral rules. The authorities are likely to refrain from tough actions against the opposition and may somewhat increase the campaigning opportunities for the opposition.

The Central Election Commission has approved the practical guide for the members of precinct election commissions in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The core requirements of the Belarusian human rights activists and the opposition to the election organizers include: ensuring that the opposition is included in the election commissions, restricting early voting and ensuring the transparency of the vote counting. The Belarusian authorities were forced to find a compromise to almost each of these requirements without compromising the overall control over the electoral process.

The new guide envisages the introduction of advisors from representatives of the candidates in the territorial election commissions. The main opposition claim, however, concerns the activities of the election commissions, where the opposition’s representation is likely to be minimal. For instance, the CEC recommended a more transparent procedure for the selection of the electoral committees’ members, which does not mean increasing the representation of the opposition. Earlier, the president emphasised the importance of forming the election commissions from the ‘decent people’, i.e. according to the Belarusian authorities, not from opposition activists. The local election organizers may rightly reject the majority of opposition candidates in the election commissions based on the lack of experience, employment, or administrative offenses resulting from the persecution by the security forces.

The new CEC recommendations include vote counting on the same side of the table, which, however, is unlikely to increase the chances of independent observers to monitor the process. The CEC has not changed the 3 metres rule, i.e. the distance between observers and the table, which does not allow seeing the real results of the vox populi.

The European institutions have supported the opposition and human rights activists’ claims regarding the clarification of criteria for early voting. Independent and party election observers emphasised the likelihood of results falsifications during the early voting, which conventionally provides a disproportionately large percentage of support for the current authorities. That said, with each election campaign the number of early voters has only increased, reaching 36.05% in the latest presidential elections. Amid the overall low turnout (50-60%), especially in large cities, high numbers of support in the early voting have determined the elections’ winner.

The CEC recommendation to use transparent ballot boxes is unlikely to affect the vote rigging during the early voting in the regions.

However, by introducing the regional-level election commissions the CEC’s workload with considering election complaints from the regions will reduce. This novelty may also create a better picture of the elections to the international observers.

That said, the authorities might register non-conflict opposition candidates to increase the turnout in the elections. CEC head Lidzia Jarmoshyna attempted to boost the interest of the opposition and the electorate in the upcoming parliamentary campaign. In an interview with Belarusian ONT TV Channel she pointedly noted the importance of the alternative opinion in the Parliament, “Enhancing political activity still suggests a mandatory presence of the discussion”.

Overall, the Belarusian authorities are likely to somewhat liberalise the environment for the opposition during the parliamentary election campaign. However, they will continue to block the possibilities for the opposition to have some control over the organisation of the elections and the counting of votes.

Solidarity with Belarus Information Office

Other news section «Politics»

Andrei Yahorau — Al Jazeera: “Lukashenko is irresponsible”
Andrei Yahorau — Al Jazeera: “Lukashenko is irresponsible”
He said Belarus would likely face economic tightening not only as a result of the coronavirus pandemic but also a Russian trade oil crisis that worsened this past winter.
Shhh! Belarus Wants You to Think It’s Turning Over a New Leaf
Shhh! Belarus Wants You to Think It’s Turning Over a New Leaf
Minsk’s muddled media clampdown could jeopardize warming of relations with the West.
Statement of the BNP in connection with the wave of searches in the editorial offices of the Belarus
Statement of the BNP in connection with the wave of searches in the editorial offices of the Belarus
The Belarusan National Platform of the EaP CSF issued a statement in connection with the wave of searches in the editorial offices of the Belarusan media and the detention of journalists.
Statement of the Belarusan EaP CSF National Platform on solidarity with the civil society of Armenia
Statement of the Belarusan EaP CSF National Platform on solidarity with the civil society of Armenia
The Belarusan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum issued a statement on solidarity with the civil society of Armenia.
"Vilnius Consultations": Key points and recommendations on the future of EU Eastern Partnership
"Vilnius Consultations": Key points and recommendations on the future of EU Eastern Partnership
On September 11, the inaugural „Vilnius Consultations“ conference was organized by Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis and Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From farewell to a new Eastern policy and towards a new development
From farewell to a new Eastern policy and towards a new development
Poland and Germany were both initiators and drivers of a New Eastern policy linked to the Eastern neighborhood and Russia/Soviet Union.
Uladzimir Matskevich: The sooner the "Union State" is denounced, the better for Belarus
Uladzimir Matskevich: The sooner the "Union State" is denounced, the better for Belarus
Not only does the "Union State" undermine the establishment of civilized relations with Europe, but it hinders the possibility of normal relations between Belarus and Russia.
Uladzimir Matskevich: The regime can no longer control the situation in the country
Uladzimir Matskevich: The regime can no longer control the situation in the country
The authorities are unable to prolong the social contract with the people: there is no way out of the social crisis.
Press release in connection with the dialogue in the format of the EU-Belarus Coordination Group
Press release in connection with the dialogue in the format of the EU-Belarus Coordination Group
Belarusan National Platform of the EaP CSF welcomes the dialogue process in the format of the EU-Belarus Coordination Group, the third round of which was held in Minsk on 3-4 April 2017.
Statement of the BNP in connection with the events of March 25-26, 2017 in Minsk and other Belarusan
Statement of the BNP in connection with the events of March 25-26, 2017 in Minsk and other Belarusan
Belarusan National Platform of the EaP CSF issued a statement in connection with the events of March 25-26, 2017 in Minsk and other Belarusan cities.
Statement by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum on mass repressions in Belarus
Statement by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum on mass repressions in Belarus
The EaP CSF Steering Committee issued a statement on repressions against civil society activists and journalists in Belarus, in view of the demonstrations planned on 25 March 2017.
Uladzimir Matskevich: Belarus-Ukraine relations need to be re-established
Uladzimir Matskevich: Belarus-Ukraine relations need to be re-established
"Case of Zhadan" demonstrated that Belarus does not actually have a clear policy - neither domestic nor foreign.
Belarus
Belarus's Lukashenko alleges “fifth column” plot as unrest continues
Belarusan President Lukashenko said on Tuesday a “fifth column” was plotting to overthrow him with the help of foreign-backed fighters, days before a planned street protest in Minsk against a new tax.
In Belarus, a rising fear: Will we be the next Ukraine?
In Belarus, a rising fear: Will we be the next Ukraine?
The relationship between Russia and Belarus has never been an easy one.
Andrei Yahorau: European window of opportunity is slowly closing, relations take form of fatigue
Andrei Yahorau: European window of opportunity is slowly closing, relations take form of fatigue
The Belarusian regime is not able to pursue a truly multi-vector policy, and the EU cannot decide what it needs in the region on the whole and from Belarus in particular.
Uladzimir Matskevich: Today Belarus is in a very difficult situation
Uladzimir Matskevich: Today Belarus is in a very difficult situation
But even under the circumstances the authorities have various ways out.
Uladzimir Matskevich: Lukashenka does not disrupt Russian plans to annex Belarus
Uladzimir Matskevich: Lukashenka does not disrupt Russian plans to annex Belarus
But Lukashenka is afraid for his fate and position - he needs Belarus to be sovereign to fully exercise his power.
Andrei Yeliseyeu: Russia is taking drastic unconstructive steps  
Andrei Yeliseyeu: Russia is taking drastic unconstructive steps  
There should be no actual passport control for the Belarusians arriving in Russia within the framework of the existing Belarusian-Russian agreements.
Uladzimir Matskevich: Visa-free regime is not a political concession to the West
Uladzimir Matskevich: Visa-free regime is not a political concession to the West
It is a process of normalization of Belarus-EU relations. Belarus just fulfils its international commitments.
Andrei Yahorau: Belarusian regime is self-improving, the only threat so far is the economy crisis
Andrei Yahorau: Belarusian regime is self-improving, the only threat so far is the economy crisis
Political analyst emphasizes that Belarus is the first modern authoritarianism in the European space, a phenomenon not yet studied by anyone.
Gintautas Mažeikis: The relation of political field and arena in the framework of information war

In his report, philosopher Gintautas Mažeikis discusses several concepts that have been a part of the European social and philosophical thought for quite a time.

“It is our big joint work”

It is impossible to change life in cities just in three years (the timeline of the “Agenda 50” campaign implementation). But changing the structure of relationships in local communities is possible.

Shhh! Belarus Wants You to Think It’s Turning Over a New Leaf

Minsk’s muddled media clampdown could jeopardize warming of relations with the West.

Mikhail Matskevich: How to create a local agenda and make it a problem solving tool

To achieve changes, you need to be interested in them and stop pinning all hopes on the state.