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Belarus - Presidential Election - 2020

The presidential election in Belarus will be held in 2020 as planned, 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.

The president noted that politically active part of the society is concerned about the upcoming election campaigns: I have no idea why this has suddenly become some sort of theme for disputes. We have the law, the Constitution. You know perfectly well that I will not shift things around seeking opportunities to cling on to power. Some so-called politicians suggest holding the presidential election this year citing the stable economic situation, more or less favorable conditions.

I would like to repeat again: we will not be looking for some favorable factors or some opportune moment. The presidential election should be held in 2020. So it will take place whatever happens in our country. We do not play with people or organize political games to promote one politician's interests. The presidential election will be held in strict accordance with the terms stipulated in the Constitution, the head of state noted.

The explicit nature of the pre-election message was manifested in everything. It was clearly evident very strong public relations component. Lukashenko spoke quite emotionally, using all the tricks pramovnaga art. Every now and then she showed through charisma that so effectively worked in the 1990s. It was a thoroughly polemical, he constantly argued with some anonymous opponents. More than usual joking. Lukashenko directly appealed to the social groups that it considers its reliable electorate. That is, people with low incomes: kindergarten teachers, pensioners, the disabled, large families, residents of the regions, the rural population. Public relations component is most manifest in the form of populism, and, what is worth paying attention to, very cheap. Mostly it was a direct return to the old, uncomplicated populist rhetoric of the 1990s.

Lukashenko is going to go to the 2020 elections with the political program of the 1990s, at least at the rhetorical level. This is a definite retreat from electoral campaigns and 2010, and 2015, during which the reformist rhetoric, the appeal to new social groups was noticeable. Abandoning market reforms, Lukashenko seeks to preserve the old social structure of society, in order to artificially maintain its electorate. He believes that public-sector workers - is his fans. Pros, smart people, but all the same in any technological development will give the milk from a cow. For young people who want to go in search of a better life: if you want to wash dishes in the West?

Yet society has changed. Opinion polls show that the majority of Belarusians positively related to market relations. There are serious doubts that Lukashenka continues to feel the nerve of society, talking with him in the same language. For example, a relatively much attention he paid to the sport. It is unlikely that his electorate so interesting trivia and details of performances of Belarusian athletes.

His announcement came amid calls from some politicians to keep the dates of the presidential and parliamentary elections separate so that the election campaign periods do not overlap. Current legislation stipulates that the next presidential election must be held no later than August 30, 2020 and that the next general election must be no later than September 6, 2020. In the Belarusian legislation there is only the term no later than. That is, it is impossible to hold elections later than these dates. But you can do it before this date, but there was nothing in the legislation stating how much earlier the elections can be held.

Political commentator Valere Karbalevich explains why many predictions about what will be the first presidential elections and that they will be held this year did not come true. "Lukashenko actually explained: I do not want to" twist "to the elections. I translate into plain language. Appoint presidential elections in 2019, ie one year ahead of the constitutional term - that is, to show that he is afraid of something that he is a weak, uncertain. So it's best "twist" to the parliamentary elections, assign them a year ahead of a constitutional deadline. This is a violation of the Constitution, because it is clearly stated the grounds on which it is possible to terminate the powers of the House of Representatives. But who is interested in the provisions of the Constitution, "- said the analyst.

Belarus is an authoritarian state. The constitution provides for a directly elected president who is head of state, and a bicameral parliament, the National Assembly. A prime minister appointed by the president is the nominal head of government, but power is concentrated in the presidency, both in fact and in law. Citizens were unable to choose their government through free and fair elections. Since his election as president in 1994, Aliaksandr Lukashenka has consolidated his rule over all institutions and undermined the rule of law through authoritarian means, including manipulated elections and arbitrary decrees. All subsequent presidential elections fell well short of international standards.

Since his election in 1994 to a four-year term as the countrys first president, Lukashenka has steadily consolidated power in the executive branch to dominate all branches of government, effectively ending any separation of powers among the branches. Flawed referendums in 1996 and 2004 amended the constitution to broaden his powers, extend his term in office, and remove presidential term limits. Subsequent elections, including the presidential elections held in 2015 and parliamentary elections held in 2016, continued to deny citizens the right to express their will in an honest and transparent process including fair access to media and to resources.

Individuals could not criticize the president and the government publicly or discuss matters of general public interest without fear of reprisal. Authorities videotaped political meetings, conducted frequent identity checks, and used other forms of intimidation. Authorities also prohibited wearing facemasks, displaying certain historical flags and symbols, and displaying placards bearing messages deemed threatening to the government or public order.

Government restrictions limit access to information and often result in media self-censorship. State-controlled media did not provide balanced coverage and overwhelmingly presented the official version of events. Appearances by opposition politicians on state media were rare and limited primarily to those required by law during election campaigns. Authorities warned, fined, detained, and interrogated members of independent media.

On 27 March 2018, President Lukashenka told Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich that the Ministry should be ready to immediately suppress any unauthorized events which impede peoples lives because chaos stems from them [unauthorized protests]. Shunevich responded that not a single event, which is not sanctioned by authorities, will take place, and even if it starts it will be immediately stopped in an effective manner and in compliance with the law.

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