Human Rights House Foundation

Belarus

Image: Петр Саруханов 
Copyright: novayagazeta.ru

"Pro-government public associations are in fact organisers of election in Belarus"

Five pro-government public associations are in fact organisers of election in Belarus. Such opinion was expressed by Valyantsin Stefanovich, the expert of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections", when he was commenting on the difference between number of nominees to precinct election commissions from political parties and public associations.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016, by Belarusian HRH based on spring96.org

On 11 September parliamentary election will take place in Belarus. 73 278 people are officially registered by district commissions as potential members of precinct election commissions during upcoming election to the sixth House of Representatives. Such numbers were announced by Mikalai Lazovik, Secretary of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC). The Electoral Code allows to create commission consisting of 5 to 19 people.

"We recommend not to create commissions with too many members. We offer to appoint commissions of 11-13 people at precincts with maximum number of voters (about three thousands people). Five people will be enough at small precinct election commissions like in a hospital. Abroad, in countries with small number of Belarusians we have reduced the number of commissions' members up to 3 people," Mikalai Lazovik said.

According to CEC statistics, the greatest number of nominees to precinct commissions is from public associations - 49.9%. 37.5% nominees applied through collection of signatures, 12.6% are representatives of labour organizations.

Political analysts pay attention to extremely low activity of political parties when nominating candidates to the election commissions. Firstly, a third part of the 15 officially registered in the Ministry of Justice parties did not take this opportunity at all. Secondly, 10 parties "scraped together" only 5.8% of the total number of nominees for the ballot counting. At least, the United Civil Party has 0.3%, Fair World - 0.2%, BPF Party and the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) - 0.1% each. And all this is despite the fact that party leaders have repeatedly promised to nominate candidates to precinct election commissions, where ballot counting is performed.

Image: Stefanovich, Valiantsin
Copyright: SVABODA.ORG"Perhaps, the situation aggravated due to the fact that the governing bodies of parties could not nominate their representatives to election commissions, if these parties did not have registered branches in the regions," explains Valyantsin Stefanovich, the expert of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" and lawyer of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" (in the photo). "If to mention the role of political parties, it does not change in principle. Public associations take the leading position among nominees to election commissions. And this is surprising, because according to the Electoral Code, non-governmental organizations are not entitled to nominate candidates to Parliament. But they have the largest number of representatives in election commissions.

I personally consider this the peculiarity of the political system of Belarus, with not political parties, as it is practiced in the civilized world, but public associations brought to the forefront. You know, we have five public associations which actually become the organisers of the election. These are the Federation of Trade Unions, "White Russia", the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, women's and veterans' organizations".

The words of Valyantsin Stefanovich are confirmed by current numbers of this year's campaign. If 10 political parties jointly put up 4272 people for ballot counting, 5 public associations mentioned above have 25 646 people.

Belarusian HRH based on spring96.org

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