Human rights activists for free elections: there are no changes in forming of electoral commissions this year

2008 2008-07-15T16:03:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

14 July 2008

The forming of district commissions on election to the Chamber of Representatives of the Republic of Belarus is over. According to the elections’ schedule which was adopted by a ruling of the Central Commission of the Republic of Belarus on elections and republican referenda, the nomination of representatives to district electoral commissions was to start 26 June and end not later than 11 July.

Taking into consideration the exceptional role of the district electoral commissions in the organization and holding of the elections to the Chamber of Representatives, the question of forming of these organs caused many disputes even before the beginning of the electoral campaign.

The political parties who belong to the coalition of the United Democratic Forces have prepared a single list of candidates to district electoral commission, which was approved by the UDF Political Council on 8 June 2008. The choice of candidates was made according to the following criteria: the experience of work in state agencies, political and public status, place of work and education. The list consisted of 110 candidates, including such well-known activists as Stanislau Shushkevich, Mechyslau Hryb, Alexander Sasnou, Pavel Kazlouski, Leu Marholin, etc.

The political council of the United Democratic Forces stated that inclusion or non-inclusion of the candidates from the single list would be one of the conditions for recognition or non-recognition of the parliamentary elections by the international community. The leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Liabedzka expressed the opinion that in the case of non-inclusion of members of parties which belong to the UDF in the electoral commissions they could revoke candidates to deputies as well and start boycott of the elections.

Lidziya Yarmoshyna, chair of the Central commission of the Republic of Belarus, stated that the wishes of the United Democratic Forces could be taken into consideration. According to her, Lukashenka was positive about inclusion of members of oppositional parties in the district electoral commission, but with regard to their ‘working experience and political maturity’.

On 14 July the joint sittings of the presidium of Minsk oblast soviet of deputies and Minsk oblast executive committee and of the presidium of Minsk city soviet of deputies and Minsk city executive committee took place.

At these sittings the question of forming the district electoral commissions was considered. 110 district electoral commissions were formed on decision of the aforementioned state organs. All in all, 1 853 candidates had been nominated to these commissions by all parties who had the legal right to it. According to the law, the maximal number of members of a district electoral commission is 13. That’s why only 1 430 candidates could be included in the commissions.

According to the preliminary information from the secretary of the Central commission of the Republic of Belarus on elections and holding of republican referenda, the greatest part of members (738 persons, 38,9%) were nominated to the commissions by collection of signatures from citizens and 472 (25,5%) were nominated by NGOs. Eight of the officially registered political parties nominated 371 (20%) candidates. Most of them were nominated by the pro-governmental ones: the Communist Party of Belarus (91 persons) and the Agrarian Party (62 persons). Among the oppositional parties the largest number of candidates (50) was nominated by the United Civil Party. 272 candidates (14,7%) were nominated by working collectives.

It’s worth mentioning, that like during the previous electoral campaigns, the nominated candidates were not invited to the joint sittings of the executive committees and presidiums of the soviets of deputies. Neither were they informed about the decisions of these state agencies concerning their candidacies.

In a number of Belarus’ oblasts representatives of mass media and public circles were not admitted to the joint sittings of executive committees and presidiums of soviets of deputies on forming of the electoral commissions. In particulars, the representative of the republican human rights NGO Belarusian Helsinki Committee Leanid Markhotka was banned presence at the joint sitting of Minsk oblast executive committee and Minsk city soviet of deputies, and the BHC member Uladzimir Osipchyk – at the joint sitting of Minsk city executive committee and Minsk city soviet of deputies, in both cases without any explanations. The same happened in Vitsebsk oblast, where the BHC representatives Vadzim Barshcheuski and Vasil Berasneu weren’t admitted to the joint sitting of Vitsebsk oblast executive committee and the presidium of Vitsebsk oblast soviet of deputies.

Besides, the state officials refused to present to members of the United Civil Party, the Belarusian Popular Front Party and the Party of Communists Belarusian information on forming of district electoral commissions, though these parties had nominated candidates to the electoral commissions in Minsk and Minsk oblast.

In Hrodna oblast the officials gave no information on formation of the electoral commissions to representatives of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and other persons.

By refusing to admit of delegates of public organizations to the sittings of oblast executive committees and presidiums of oblast soviets of deputies the authorities violated the principle of publicity during elections. In particular, Article 13 of the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus provides that the preparation and holding of the elections to the Chamber of Representatives is conducted publicly and openly. The appropriate commissions, local representative, executive and regulatory authorities inform citizens about their activities on preparing and holding of elections and about time, place, location and work of electoral commissions.

According to preliminary information, the political parties have the following number of representatives at district electoral commissions:

Table of representation of political parties at district electoral commissions during the elections to the Chamber of Representatives in 2008

 

The Belarusian
Popular Front
‘Adradzhenne’ Party

The United
Civil Party

The Party of Communists
Belarusian

The Belarusian
Social Democratic
Party ‘Hramada’

The Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada

The total number o f nominated candidates

 

51

 

50

 

18

 

15

 

2

The city of Minsk

2

1

4

1

-

Minsk oblast

2

3

2

2

0

Vitsebsk oblast

1

1

2

2

0

Homel oblast

0

9

3

0

0

Hrodna oblast

-

1

-

-

-

Brest oblast

2

2

1

1

0

Mahiliou oblast

1

0

1

0

0

The information in this table can be updated after the official publication of the lists of members of district electoral commissions

Compare with:

Table of representation of political parties at district electoral commissions during the elections to the Chamber of Representatives in 2004

 

The Belarusian
Popular Front
‘Adradzhenne’ Party

The United
Civil Party

The Party of Communists
Belarusian

The Belarusian
Social Democratic
Party ‘Narodnaya
Hramada’

The Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada

The Belarusian Labor Party

The total number o f nominated candidates

 

50

 

61

 

78

 

80

 

23

 

26

The city of Minsk

1

0

4

0

0

0

Minsk oblast

0

0

0

0

0

0

Vitsebsk oblast

0

0

6

0

0

0

Homel oblast

0

0

5

0

0

0

Hrodna oblast

0

0

0

0

0

0

Brest oblast

1

0

4

1

0

0

Mahiliou oblast

0

0

0

0

0

0


Commentaries:
If we compare the representation of political parties at district electoral committees during the parliamentary elections in 2004 and 2004, it becomes evident that the differences are insignificant. The changes mostly concern the number of candidates from different political parties. In particular, in 2004 more candidates from the Party of Communists Belarusian were included, whereas now there are more candidates from the United Civil Party. Homel oblast stands out: 13 out of 18 oppositional candidates were included in district electoral commissions.

Preliminary conclusions:
According to the received information, the practice of forming of district electoral commissions remains the same. The local state agencies which possess the legal right to form the electoral commissions ignored the proposals of the oppositional parties. In the majority cases the order of forming of the electoral commissions was not transparent. This leads to the conclusions that the formed electoral commissions do not meet the principle of wide representation of all parties of electoral process.

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