Opposition candidates have won seats in parliamentary elections in Belarus for the first time since 2000, though critics of the ruling regime said they had been “appointed” to appease the west, and independent observers reported widespread vote-rigging. Anna Konopatskaya, of the United Civic party, won a district in Minsk, and Yelena Anisim, of the Belarusian Language Society, also won a seat. Anisim’s opponent, Yelena Zhuravlyova, a regime loyalist, unexpectedly withdrew from the race last month. Leading critics of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 22 years, were unimpressed.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Belarus.
At least one opposition candidate has won a seat in parliamentary elections in Belarus, their first representation in the chamber for 20 years. The Electoral Commission said Anna Konopatskaya of the United Civil Party won one of the 110 seats being contested in the lower house. Lawmakers loyal to hard-line President Alexander Lukashenko are expected to occupy most remaining seats. Opposition candidates were able to enter more easily than earlier votes. The opposition’s participation in the election is a concession to Western calls for more transparency in Belarus, correspondents say. External monitors were also given access to the vote count.
Lawmakers loyal to hardline Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko look set to retain power in an election on Sunday, but the easing of restrictions on opposition candidates could help the ex-Soviet nation further improve ties with the West. The opposition, which has not been represented in the 110-seat parliament since 1996, is not expected to win any seats, but in a concession to Western calls for greater transparency its contenders have been able to register more easily. External monitors will also be given access to the vote count. Relations between Minsk and the West have warmed since recession-hit Belarus held a peaceful presidential election last October.
Belarus’ Central Election Commission approved the lists of documents on the basis of which voters will be issued ballot papers at polling stations, BelTA has learned. CEC Secretary Nikolai Lozovik noted that in accordance with the established rules a ballot paper is issued by election commission staff on the basis of the two documents. The first one is a list of citizens eligible to vote. The second one is a passport or any other document substituting it which voters should produce. The draft resolution, which was passed at a meeting on 23 August, lists such passport replacement documents as a military ID for conscripts, an official ID for public servants, a driver’s license, a photographic pension certificate, a student card, and also a paper from the interior agencies for citizens who have lost their passport.
A proposal was voiced at the meeting to allow an ID of a person with a disability. The CEC promised to revisit this issue after it establishes the exact title of this document.
The elections to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus will be held on 11 September.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, today said that while the Presidential polls conducted in the country this past Sunday were not met with violence as in previous cases, no progress was made in serving the Belarusians’ right to free and fair election. “The election process was orchestrated, and the result was pre-ordained. It could not be otherwise, given the 20 years of continuous suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, which are the preconditions for any credible competition,” Mr. Haraszti said in a press statement. The Special Rapporteur noted that none of the international and local independent election monitors could verify the official claims of 86 per cent voter turnout or 84 per cent endorsement of the incumbent. “Such high scores have never been claimed in elections in Europe since the end of the Soviet Union,” Mr. Haraszti stressed. “The observers’ documentations highlighted that not even the four days of coerced participation of prison inmates, army conscripts, and public servants under the label of ‘early voting,’ can give up the stated numbers,” he added.
Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the authoritarian president of Belarus, who suffered the indignity last week of seeing one of his sharpest critics win the Nobel Prize in Literature, won a prize of his own on Sunday: the presidency of Belarus, though that outcome had never been in doubt. Mr. Lukashenko, a former collective farm director who has led Belarus for 21 years, got nearly 83.5 percent of the vote, the Central Election Commission reported late Sunday, trouncing three token competitors and winning a fifth term.
The crisis in Ukraine has been painful for nearly everyone involved. Russia finds itself under sanctions and at loggerheads abroad. NATO faces as grave a challenge as any since the cold war ended. And Ukraine itself, dismembered and drained by war, struggles to recover even as the fighting in the east of the country grinds to a halt. Yet one clear winner has emerged from the mess: Alexander Lukashenko, the mustachioed strongman of Belarus, to Ukraine’s north. Mr Lukashenko is a former collective- farm boss who has ruled Belarus for 21 years. He stands for his fifth consecutive presidential term on October 11th. To no one’s surprise, he will win. Known as “Europe’s last dictator”, he travels everywhere with his 11-year-old son, who packs a golden pistol and expects to be saluted by Belarusian generals. Elections in 2010 ended with a violent crackdown on protesters and the jailing of Mr Lukashenko’s rivals. The European Union imposed sanctions and travel bans for top officials, including Mr Lukashenko. Yet he approaches the vote feeling secure at home and enjoying a renaissance abroad. He has Ukraine to thank.
On 11 October, Belarus will hold presidential elections. The Belarusian authorities try to create an image of democratic elections at a time when Alexander Lukashenka looks weak due to the economic recession. Realistically no one expects a fair vote count. The official results will be produced to bring victory to Alexander Lukashenka. But there are three things that can significantly change the perception of the campaign: access to the vote count, the number of votes against Lukashenka and the post-election period. These elections differ from the 2006 and 2010 presidential elections. Although the nature of the political regime remains the same: a small amount of opposition in election commissions, forcing students and civil servants to vote in advance or lack of system liberalisation, many minor improvements have actually taken place.
Belarus: Presidential Elections in Belarus: Why the West Should Not Hold Its Breath | Belarus Digest
On 1 September the Central Elections Committee of Belarus announced that four presidential candidates had submitted enough signatures to run in elections scheduled for 11 October this year. Although few question the outcome of this elections and the official victory of the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenka, the elections take place in a very different geopolitical context. In the 2010 presidential elections, the authorities saw the Belarusian opposition as the main threat and crushed protests, putting several presidential candidates in jail. After the recent events in Ukraine the authorities seem to view Russia as a more serious threat although they would not publicly admit it. Belarus only had real elections during a brief period of competitive politics in the early 1990s, prior to the election of current President Alexander Lukashenka in 1994. This is why for many Belarusians, particularly older generations, elections are not an opportunity to change their leadership but something of an old ritual.
The parliament of Belarus decided Tuesday to set the next presidential election for Oct. 11, about a month earlier than originally planned. The decision intensified a debate among opposition parties on whether to put forward candidates for an election all but certain to be won by Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet republic with an iron grip since 1994.