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Belarus - Parliamentary Election - 07 November 2019

The Palata Predstaviteley / House of Representatives consists of 110 single-member constituencies elected by simple majority vote. The Soviet Respubliki / Council of the Republic has 64 members, of whom 56 are indirectly elected and 8 appointed by the Head of State. The Council of the Republic is the chamber of territorial representation. From each oblast and the city of Minsk by secret ballot, eight members of the Council of the Republic are elected at meetings of deputies of local Councils of deputies of the base level of each oblast and the city of Minsk.

The parliament remains an affiliation of the Government and merely approves the laws presented to it. The selection of two token opponents to enter parliament following the parliamentary elections of September 2016 does not modify the overwhelming presence of pro-Government representatives (97 percent). The absence of a system of checks and balances, the non-effectiveness of the parliament and the full control of the President over the judiciary illustrate the absence of the rule of law in Belarus.

The parliamentary election in Belarus will be held in 2019, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said 19 April 2019 as he delivered the State of the Nation Address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly. "Some policy analysts offer to hold presidential elections this year. Because, they say, a favorable atmosphere. It is not necessary for them "padladkovvatstsa": the presidential election will take place, as it should be, in 2020. We will not play with the people. The election campaign has to go quietly and orderly. This year will be held parliamentary elections - if that is possible, I would like to see them held on November 7 for the October Revolution."

Chairman of the Central Election Commission Lidia Yermoshina said 10 January 2019 that the presidential elections in Belarus must be held no later than August 30, 2020, and the election of the House of Representatives - no later than 6 September 2020. The difference is only one week. "Only the term exists in the Belarusian legislation" not later than ". That is, to hold elections later this impossible choice. A soon as possible. But as before, the law is not spelled out, "- explains the chairman of the CEC.

Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting 10 January 2019 on socio-economic development in 2019 called this year "election". "A lot is said about it, and that it is an election year - it really is. We have enough issues that need to be addressed better than they are solved now, "-

If Lukashenka calls the 2019 election, is it possible that both the electoral campaign will be held in 2020? To this question Lidia Yermoshina said: "Maybe yes, maybe not. I admit that some elections could be held later this year, and others in 2020. I continue to believe that the two election campaigns have to be separated to different years. But as the Central Election Commission does not appoint an election, will solve all the head of state and parliament. I think that everything will be known in April, when the president will deliver the traditional address to the nation and the parliament. "

According to Yarmoshyna, the CEC staff are now preparing the package of documents on the two election campaigns, whether that will be the first. Previous presidential elections in Belarus were held October 11, 2015, the last Parliament - September 11, 2016. The President is elected for 5 years, the deputies - 4 years.

The Constitution and the Electoral Code requires that regular elections took place not later than three months before the end of the mandate of the current composition of the House of Representatives. Formal parliamentary elections can be announced at any time. For it is written that they are carried out "within three months", which means they can be formally and hold for 10 months before the end of the term of the deputies, and for the year, and for two. The main thing is to not hold it later than three months.

The September 2016 parliamentary elections failed to meet international standards. For the first time in 12 years, however, alternative voices were seated in parliament. The elections were marred by a number of long-standing systemic shortcomings, according to the OSCE/ODIHR, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe international election observation mission intermediate report. While the observer missions and the international community welcomed visible efforts by authorities to make some procedural improvements, a number of key long-standing recommendations by the OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe Venice Commission remained unaddressed.

The 2016 OSCE report found that the legal framework restricts political rights and fundamental freedoms and was interpreted in an overly restrictive manner. While there was an overall increase in the number of candidates, including from the opposition, media coverage did not enable voters to make an informed choice, and the campaign lacked visibility. As in past years, only a negligible number of election commission members were appointed from opposition nominees, which undermined confidence in the commissions independence. The early voting, counting, and tabulation procedures continued to be marred by a significant number of procedural irregularities and a lack of transparency.

Local human rights groups Vyasna and the BHC stated at a postelection press conference that based on their observation the election fell short of international standards and did not fully abide by the countrys legislation. They especially noted their concern regarding early voting procedures, the lack of transparency in the vote-count process, and the domination of election commissions by pro-government organizations.

Human rights issues include torture; arbitrary arrest and detention; life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; undue restrictions on free expression, the press and the internet, including censorship, site blocking, and criminal libel and defamation of government officials; violence against and detention of journalists; severe restrictions on freedoms of assembly and association, including by imposing criminal penalties for calling for a peaceful demonstration and laws criminalizing the activities and funding of groups not approved by the authorities; restrictions on freedom of movement, in particular of former political prisoners whose civil rights remained largely restricted; failure to account for longstanding cases of politically motivated disappearances; restrictions on political participation; corruption in all branches of government; allegations of pressuring women to have abortions; and trafficking in persons.

Authorities detained opposition and civil society activists for reasons widely considered politically motivated. In isolated cases authorities used administrative measures to detain political activists before, during, and after planned demonstrations and protests, as well as other public events.

Authorities routinely harassed and impeded the activities of opposition political parties and activists. Some opposition parties lacked legal status because authorities refused to register them, and the government routinely interfered with the right to organize, run for election, seek votes, and publicize views. The government allowed approximately half a dozen largely inactive but officially registered pro-Lukashenka political parties to operate freely.

During 2018 authorities fined and arrested opposition political parties leaders for violating the Law on Mass Events and participating in numerous unauthorized demonstrations. The law allows authorities to suspend parties for six months after one warning and close them after two. Members of parties that authorities refused to register, such as the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party, continued to be subjected to harassment and arbitrary checks. The law also prohibits political parties from receiving support from abroad and requires all political groups and coalitions to register with the Ministry of Justice.

All 110 seats in the country's rubber-stamp National Assembly were up for grabs on November 17, contested by a total of 558 candidates. More than 150 would-be candidates many of them from opposition groups -- were rejected by election officials, who deemed some of the signatures they submitted invalid. Current parliament deputies Anna Kanapatskaya and Alena Anisim were among those whose election bids were shot down. Kanapatskaya, a member of the opposition United Civil Party, and Anisim, an independent with links to the opposition, were elected in 2016, becoming the first oppositionists elected to parliament in Belarus since 1996.

After their surprise election in 2016, neither of the two sitting opposition candidates were allowed to stand this time. Strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko plans to stand again in presidential elections next year. Critics have denounced the election as fraudulent rife with violations and the parliament has been described as being such in name only: a "rubber stamp parliament." Officials allegedly inflated voter numbers and threw out observers of the vote. All 110 Members of Parliament elected represent parties loyal to the president. The turnout was 77%, according to official data. Members of political parties comprised 19.1% of the new parliament (21 people). The previous parliament had 16 representatives of political parties. The Agrarian Party will be represented by one MP. The Liberal Democratic Party will also have one representative. The Belarus Patriotic Party won two seats. The Republican Party of Labor and Justice will be represented by six MPs. The Communist Party of Belarus will have 11 party members in the new parliament. "These elections have demonstrated an overall lack of respect for democratic commitments," said Margareta Cederfelt, leader of an observer mission from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). "Parliamentary elections are in danger of becoming a formality," she added.

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Page last modified: 27-11-2019 18:53:40 ZULU