Weekly analytical report on monitoring results 2: June 25th – July 1st
ELECTIONS OF MEMBERS OF THE CHAMBER OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS OF THE FIFTH CONVOCATION
Weekly analytical report on monitoring results 2: June 25th – July 1st
- Currently the society does not notice the beginning of the election process: despite certain activation of the political parties, observers do not see animation of the public life in the country;
- During the period in consideration the authorities introduced administrative responsibility for conducting opinion polls and publication of their results without special permit from the authorities;
- Opinion polls show, currently half of the respondents are ready to participate in the elections and another third is still undecided about participation. At the same time, the society demonstrates high level of interest towards independent observation of the election process and is ready to step in the process;
- The parties in opposition began nominating their representatives to district election commissions: as of today, they claim they have nominated more than 300 members altogether (which is almost 3 times more than during the parliamentary elections in 2008);
- We observe intensification of targeted repression against the opposition structures and the civic society. At the same time, the recently detained journalist Andrzej Poczobut was released on bail.
- Decision not to hold live election debates has become a significant change in comparison with the last presidential election.
Coverage of the election campaign
On this stage the beginning of the election process is almost imperceptible: despite certain revitalization of the political parties and stronger repressive measures by the state agencies, observers do not register animation of the public life in the country. On the same note, observers see neither significant manifestations of protest activity, nor beginning of early campaigning by candidates or boycott supporters. State-owned mass media on both national and regional level practically do not raise the topic (the only exception is information from BelTA news feed). Observers register appearance of sporadic articles criticizing the opposition forces in the state-run press.
Opinion polls confirm, the society remains skeptical about the election process. On the one hand, only a small part of the population supports the boycott idea (10%, according to IISEPS). However, at the same time the majority of citizens do not expect change of the situation in the country as a result of the elections. In the meantime, already half of the respondents are ready to take part in the elections, while another third is still undecided about their participation. Simultaneously, the society demonstrates high level of interest towards independent observation of the parliamentary elections. Thus, 63.7% of the respondents think independent observation promotes fairness and objectivity of the election, and 22.7% expressed the wish to become observers. 37.7% said they would like to receive information about the correctness of election procedures from independent observers.
As expected, administrative responsibility (a fine) was introduced for conducting opinion polls and publishing their results without special permit from the authorities. We think it will become a serious obstacle for objective assessment of the election results, published by the election commissions.
Nomination of representatives to district election commissions
Political parties in opposition began to actively nominate their representatives to district election commissions: as of today, they claim they have nominated more than 300 representatives altogether (which is similar to figures of 2004 and almost three times higher than during the last parliamentary election of 2008). The nomination process will continue until July 6th. BPF Party says it has nominated 62 representatives, the “Fair World” Party nominated 86 representatives, while the United Civic Party is preparing to nominate about 30 people. Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) also nominated some of its members to the district election commissions. The pro-governmental Federation of the Trade Unions claims nomination of over 300 members to the district commissions through its local structures. Simultaneously, its chairman Leanid Kozik stated FTU representatives in district commissions would fight against the opposition candidates.
The next week’s (until July 9th) nomination results will become an important criterion for assessment if the election is free and fair for both the opposition forces and the international community.
Observers also registered nomination of representatives to election commissions by work collectives of state-run companies. This process is at large steered and controlled by the state administration.
We observe intensification of targeted repression against activists and structures of the opposition forces and civic society. Hrodna is to be especially mentioned in this respect: having arrested Hrodna journalist Andrzej Poczobut the authorities searched the Hrodna office of the unregistered Union of Poles. Also, Hrodna justice bodies suspended registration of the local organization of the BPF Party making illegitimate requirements that it should bring the full list of its members indicating their employers.
In Hlybokaye the authorities began an extra-ordinary tax inspection of the publishing company Perfect-Info, headed by the local BPF Party member and activist of Tell the Truth campaign Yaraslau Bernikovich, who planned to run for office.
On June 30th Minsk police detained Vital Vasilkou, activist of Zmena, the youth wing of the Tell the Truth campaign. The police also visited the relatives of Alexander Atsybashau, who had been sentenced earlier to 15 days of administrative arrest and Ales Krot, activist of the student trade union “Student Rada”. We have also learned about several attempts of the police to get into the apartments of activists of the Belarusian National-Bolsheviks. This intensification of repression can be explained as preventive measures taken by the authorities on the eve of the celebration of the state holiday of the Day of the Republic on July 3rd.
At the same time, on June 30th the recently detained Andrzej Poczobut was suddenly released on bail; criminal charges are pressed against him under article 367 “libel against the president”.
In comparison with the last presidential election, a significant change in regulation of the election process was the decision not to conduct live election debates. This decision was made by the Central Commission on June 27th, 2012, at a meeting with representatives of the state-owned mass media. This way, the participants of the election television debates will be restricted in delivering their platforms by virtual censorship on the state-run TV.
On the districts where students make up a significant part of the constituency, one can observe their mass absence in the dormitories due to vacation period. Most likely, this group of voters will be least impacted by the campaigning.