Common position of the democratic forces on the conditions of the parliamentary campaign 2016 in Belarus

25 мая 2016 12:36  |  News

Common position of the democratic forces on the conditions of the parliamentary campaign 2016 in Belarus

The Belarusian authorities are forced to demonstrate the desire to take into account OSCE / ODIHR recommendations. They have changed the tactics of behavior – from making statements about the perfect and democratic electoral process in Belarus and complete denial of the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations to demonstrating alleged goodwill and talking of possible changes; this is a definite step forward.

However, the actual steps taken by the Central Election Commission and promised changes are contrary to the letter and spirit of the recommendations of the international community and the democratic community of Belarus.

The main and most obvious shortcoming of the electoral process in Belarus – is a non-transparent vote count. Under the Belarusian conditions the transparency of the counting is only guaranteed by:
• prioritized inclusion of representatives of political parties and of all candidates first and foremost to the District Election Commissions, as well as to higher commissions with equal rights for all;
• separate public announcing of the vote for each ballot;
• real opportunity for the observers, national and international alike, to watch all aspects of the electoral process throughout its duration, the voting, counting and tabulation of results.

The promised alleged “openness” of one side of the table, at which votes are conducted, is not a solution.

Second universally recognized drawback of the Belarusian elections is manipulations of the authorities with electoral registers. Nothing prevents to establish a national public register of voters with the division into districts, to make it available on the internet and also to put up the lists of voters at each polling station until the voting is competed. Observers should have the right to consult the lists of voters and get a certified copy of the protocol on the voting results.

The third obvious defect of the electoral process in Belarus is the abuse of procedure of early voting, which should be limited and be applied by way of exception at an appropriate written request.

These steps are just the most urgent and immediate measures to ensure transparency, fairness and democratic elections in Belarus. Their adoption is possible with the help of appropriate instructions from the Central Election Commission in the coming days. Bringing the whole of electoral legislation of Belarus in line with the international democratic standards should be made with the wide and public participation of the OSCE / ODIHR, Council of Europe Venice Commission, and above all democratic political parties and NGOs in Belarus in the next 12 months.

There is a risk that the authorities, having rejected the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations and having refused to make any real steps for democratization and transparency of the electoral process, will appoint a number of members of the House of Representatives and will try to present them as the opposition representatives. We see this approach as totally unacceptable, as it will block positive developments in the absence of real elections in Belarus.

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