Foreign observers share their views
Georg Schirmbeck, a Bundestag member and OSCE Parliamentary Assembly observer, told journalists at polling station number 1, in Minsk’s Tsentralny (Central) district that Belarus’ elections were proceeding very well. He has been visiting Belarus since 2002. “Much has changed for the better since then,” he added.
According to BelTA, a representative of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term observers’ group in the Brest region, David Bern Heisel, stated during a visit to Brodnitsa village polling station number 7 (in the Ivanovo district, Brest region) that the presidential elections in Belarus were well organised.
The Honorary Consul of Belarus to Zurich (Switzerland), Athanasios Akratos, worked in Mogilev as a foreign observer. He noted that the presidential campaign in Belarus has been well organised. The diplomat visited polling stations in Mogilev, talking to members of the election commissions, registered observers and voters. “I have the impression that the elections in Belarus are organised at a high level, under conditions of transparency and openness,” he said. Speaking of the advantages of Belarusian legislation, he mentioned that elderly and disabled people can vote from home. Additionally, people can vote outside of their usual region, having notified their election commission. This positive experience could have been used in Switzerland.
The former Prime Minister of Lithuania and Chair of the Lithuanian Peasants and New Democratic Party Union — Kazimira Prunskiene — also observed the election campaign in Belarus. She praised its organisation, saying that Lithuania has similar rules of voters’ registration, getting ballot papers and polling. “The secret ballot was achieved, being an essential principle of democratic elections,” she noted. “It is very important for people that Belarus’ economic performance is stable, despite the economic crisis. Belarus has preserved and multiplied its achievements. This makes people choose stability,” Ms. Prunskiene added. She liked that people came to polling stations in high-spirits; many of them even brought children.
An independent observer from France, Bernard Se, has previously visited Belarus. He sees great changes in the country’s development and in the democratisation of society. After visiting several polling stations during the presidential elections, he witnessed no pressure on voters. “I’ve noticed nothing negative. My impressions are shaped by the festive mood of people coming to vote and the possibility of freely voting for a favourite candidate,” he stressed.
The 2010 presidential elections in Belarus could become a great step forward; this has been announced by the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission, Geert Ahrens, after meeting the Head of the CIS observation mission, Sergei Lebedev.
Mr. Lebedev, in turn, stressed that many assessments by the two missions largely coincided — i.e. regarding early voting and voting on December 19th. In his words, the elections proceeded in a calm atmosphere, without any serious violations at polling stations.