Changes in the Electoral Code do not reflect essential criticism by independent observers
The first press conference of a campaign of monitoring the local elections of the 27th convocation was held today in Minsk.
Human rights defenders Valiantsin Stefanovich (HRC "Viasna") and Aleh Hulak (BHC) spoke about the socio-political background, against which the elections will be held, as well as about changes to the Electoral Code, which, incidentally, do not reflect the fundamental observations and recommendations made by both Belarusian and foreign independent observers.
According to Valiantsin Stefanovich, the current situation in the country is not politicallyfavorable. “Elections are no longer a mechanism of changing the governemnt, we do nothave any public competition in politics at all, and civil and political rights are only simulated by the state.The consequences of the 2010 presidential election can still be observed –political opponents of the government are still behind bars and those who were released are subjected to restrictive measures,” says the human rights defender.
A landmark for the current election campaign will be the new changes to the Electoral Code. Aleh Hulak stresses that the bill was available for public inspection only after its final adoption. “Even ODIHR representatives invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not receive the full document, and there was no information for the public.” According to the human rights defender, it is not permissible and emphasizes once again that the authorities are not interested in the fact that the electoral process was transparent and widely discussed by the public.
The experts stress that the adopted amendments to the legislation do not reflect the major problems of the electoral process, namely, the vote count, early voting, and the formation of election commissions.
As for the adopted amendments,the experts criticized the election campaigning innovations– candidates will not receive budget funds on printed products. “The candidate should manage during just one month to form a fund, to raise money, to print flyers and to distribute them,” said Stefanovich.
In addition, thebill outlawed calls for a boycott, and administrativeliability wasintroduced for violation of this rule.
In general, the experts point out that the people’s interest in local elections is unlikely to be high, and the innovations of campaign financing will make the campaign even more discreet.