Competition promises very bright campaign

Pre-election campaign acquires clearer contours, with 630 people nominated as candidates

Pre-election campaign acquires clearer contours, with 630 people nominated as candidates

Mikhail Myasnikovich, the Chairman of the Council of the Republic, notes that there is great competition for a seat in the House of Representatives. This is favourable, since voters are offered an interesting, dynamic campaign. However, he asserts that seats cannot be won by ‘populism’, stating, “The Belarusian people won’t give their votes to such candidates. It’s necessary to show a definite plan of action and to have a history of professional achievements and life experience.”

Pre-election atmosphere on Minsk streets

The Chair of the Central Election Commission of Belarus (CEC), Lidia Yermoshina, notes that the party political system is developing, for which she is pleased. She tells us, “All parties have increased the number of representatives proposed as candidates to the House of Representatives. This means that parties aren’t dead; they’re functioning.”

Meanwhile, recently, a representative of the BNF Party (Belarusian People’s Front) left Minsk’s city electoral commission, being proposed by his party as a candidate.

Public associations are becoming more active, with the First Pro-rector of the Academy of Public Administration (under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus), Prof. Alexander Ivanovsky, noting, “Previously, parties used to be class-oriented; now it’s more appropriate to speak about target audiences. New technologies of mobilisation have appeared and our public associations are more active than parties at election time. I can name as examples Belaya Rus, BRSM (the Belarusian Republican Youth Union), the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus, and the Belarusian Union of Women.”

International observers have also contributed to our parliamentary elections, voicing suggestions of co-operation. Sergei Lebedev, who heads the CIS observation mission, has proposed that his delegation work with that of the ODIHR/OSCE to create a common approach to assessing elections. “We hope very much that, finally, these approaches will be elaborated, presenting a common approach towards the assessment of election processes, in Western countries and in the CIS,” he stresses. The campaign continues and district election commissions have now verified documents submitted by candidates. The number of registered candidates is due to be announced after August 11th, and campaigning may then commence.

By Maxim Osipov

To know each other better

International observation of elections in full swing; July 31st saw arrival of observation mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR)

On August 9th and 10th, the observation mission of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), comprising five people, arrived in Belarus for a familiarisation visit. The delegation is headed by Australian parliamentarian Gisela Wurm, while the delegation also includes a Special Rapporteur on Belarus, Andrea Rigoni.

Parliamentarians are assessing the process of the election campaign and the political climate on the eve of the parliamentary elections. In September, the mission, comprising twelve people, will return to Belarus to monitor the actual election day.

It must be said that those who fulfil observation functions tend to retain an interest in Belarus. For example, Professor Peter Bachmaier, from Austria, who is an expert on Eastern Europe, has fascinating memories of his observation experience. Speaking of how this influenced his perception of Belarus, he notes, “I was on official observer for the OSCE during the parliamentary elections in September 2008, and an independent observer during the presidential elections in October 2015. In both cases, I worked alongside official members of electoral commissions, as are common in Austria. Independent observers from opposition parties and non-government organisations attended the elections, as did international observers from the OSCE and the CIS. They boasted wide powers and could attend during the paper count.”

Meanwhile, the International World Values Survey Association, which operates in Vienna under the guidance of Professor Christian Haerpfer, conducted an exit poll on October 11th, 2015, which showed approximately the same result as official data from the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus.

“Pondering the elections, I’d like to change the focus. It’s most important that the elections are conducted correctly and that the result meets the will of the nation. We should speak about the importance of nationwide support. Moreover, this should be of interest to the OSCE, which sees itself as a stabilising factor in Europe. This organisation is headquartered in Vienna, and Austria is taking presidency of the OSCE in 2017. In February 2016, the Austrian Republic opened its embassy in Minsk and was one of the first to support the abolition of sanctions. Accordingly, Austria has good opportunities to better study your Belarusian political system and inform the Austrian public about the construction of a social state in Belarus. Meanwhile, the Austrian-Belarusian Society, under my initiative, has been involved in this activity for many years. It has provided Austrians with positive views of your country. However, it would be nice if governments and large European institutes made their own contribution, having greater opportunities,” explains Prof. Haerpfer.

By Nina Vasilieva

Transparency in everything

The international presence during our elections is expanding day by day, nearing 300 observers.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) has accredited representatives of the Council of Europe (seven people) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (two people). Fifty representatives from the ODIHR/OSCE have received accreditation, as have around 200 from the CIS observation mission. Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister, Yelena Kupchina, assures us that all necessary conditions will be created, saying, “We’re keen to conduct the forthcoming elections in an atmosphere of maximum transparency and in full compliance with national legislation and the international obligations of our country.”

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