2019 parliamentary elections: Report on election campaigning
Observation of the elections to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus is carried out by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in the framework of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”.
- local executive committees created favorable conditions for election campaigning: the number of places for holding public events increased in comparison with the elections of 2016; in the majority of electoral districts, campaigning events were allowed in any place suitable for this purpose, with the exception of certain restrictions; the sites for campaign advertising were convenient, and the number of premises for meetings with voters also increased compared to the elections in 2016;
- despite the large number of registered candidates, their activity in election campaigning was low key: only 47.7% of the total number of registered candidates participated in televised debates, 58.9% — had their electoral platforms published; 73.9% — appeared on television, and 68.4% — on the radio; compared to the previous elections, the candidates announced fewer public events;
- administrative resources were widely used to promote the pro-government candidates, while a number of non-affiliated and opposition candidates reported obstacles in concealing or providing false information about their campaigning activities, as well as censorship of their political advertising;
- there were documented cases of bans on broadcasting the campaign speeches of opposition candidates; the DECs and the managers of government-controlled media made an extensive use of restrictions provided by Article 47 of the Electoral Code, which, in most cases, constituted unacceptable censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression; in some cases, the DECs ordered to cancel the registration of candidates, citing violations of Article 47 of the Code;
- independent media outlets provided most active coverage of the election campaign, offering publications about campaigning pickets, revocation of registration of opposition candidates, reported on the bans to air TV appearances of candidates; meanwhile, government-owned media mostly reported official information, and actively advertised the idea of the need to take part in the early voting.