Proposals for the optimum date for voting
The contours of this year’s forthcoming parliamentary elections determined
During the President’s session dedicated to issues of the improvement of the country’s election process, the Chair of the Central Election Commission, Lidia Yermoshina, suggested September 11th as an optimum date for voting. Mr. Lukashenko agreed and officially the campaign will be launched by the Head of State signing a corresponding decree. In line with legislation, the campaign should begin not later than June 10th. Meanwhile, the President didn’t oppose the CEC’s initiative to sign the decree 2-3 days ahead of time.
This tackles the calendar issue of the campaign while the approach towards its organisation remains traditional. In this respect the President asks that, “According to the established practice, people will express their will in a democratic and calm atmosphere. The main thing is that we should ensure the highest organisational level as we have always done.”
Special attention should be paid to the formation of election commissions. They should comprise decent representatives of labour collectives, political parties and public associations. International observers — both national and international — are also welcomed. Mr. Lukashenko believes there’s no need to restrict their number. In conversation with journalists Ms. Yermoshina proposed that the number of guests will be similar to that seen during the previous parliamentary campaign: about 600-700 people. As is traditional, the CEC will send invitations to the CIS and OSCE ODIHR missions immediately after the official announcement of the date of the parliamentary elections.
Nevertheless, some innovations will be introduced into the organisation of the election process. Some time ago, the President instructed an inter-departmental expert group which, after studying the OSCE ODIHR recommendations, has new proposals. Mr. Lukashenko considered that some of them can be introduced now while others will be implemented later, with relevant adjustments to the Election Code.
The Head of State reminded us, “We must remember that during the election campaign we must be guided, first of all, by our legislation. We must not dance to someone else’s tune.”
The country’s election legislation corresponds to international principles and is no worse than that of other states whose elections are recognised by the world community without any issue. After the government session, held by the President, the Chair of the Central Commission for Elections and National Referenda of Belarus, Lidia Yermoshina, announced that some of the recommendations made by the OSCE ODIHR will be taken into account during the organisation of the parliamentary elections in Belarus.
In total, over 30 OSCE ODIHR recommendations have been received. Ms. Yermoshina accepted that the Belarusian election laws need to be seriously amended if all of them are to be implemented the way the OSCE has formulated them. It is impractical for now. It refers to improvement of the aspects which can be done under current conditions and these primarily refer to law enforcement practice.
The OSCE ODIHR has drawn attention to the improvement of three major procedures they believe to be important: the formation of election commissions, the enhancement of transparency of election disputes and of the vote count procedure. All these recommendations will be taken into account to a certain degree for this election campaign.
By Vladimir Khromov