Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт

Party members still minority on election commissions

Government officials vote to approve members of district election commissions in Mahiliou. September 2, 2019. Photo:
Government officials vote to approve members of district election commissions in Mahiliou. September 2, 2019. Photo:

Members of political parties constitute as few as 14% of the total number of district election commissioners formed to administer the parliamentary elections scheduled for November 17, the Central Election Commission said in a milestone report.

The Communists and the Party of Labor and Justice are the two pro-government parties that won most seats, 68 and 52 respectively. These parties show little activity between elections and are only visible when the government needs loyal executives on election commissions.

The opposition parties are still heavily underrepresented in election management bodies. The only exception is the Spravedlivyi Mir (“Just World”) left-wing party, which secured 23 mandates. The remaining three — Belarusian Popular Front, United Civil Party, and Belarusian Social Democratic Party Hramada — have been allowed to occupy a total of 8 seats across the country.

Similarly, pro-government NGOs have managed to fill the bulk of the vacancies of the 58.8% eventually occupied by civil society organizations. Their representation is measured in hundreds, for example, the Federation of Trade Unions with 270 members and the Belaya Rus NGO with 108 representatives.

Truly independent NGOs were generally denied membership. The few people that were allowed to join the commissions (e.g. only 4 out of 117 nominations in the Brest and Viciebsk regions taken together) passed as “miscellaneous commissioners”, together with the GONGOs of the War Veterans’ Union and the Red Cross Society.

Yury Hubarevich, leader of the Za Svabodu (“For Freedom”) NGO, says this was done on purpose in order to hide the shameful truth.

“By hiding the number of Za Svabodu nominations, the CEC hopes to avoid explaining to the international observers why 100% of nominees from pro-government organizations were elected to the commissions, while the figure for the independent ones is close to zero,” he said.

The situation is even worse for the Havary Praudu (“Tell the Truth”) movement. None of their 36 nominees was elected to the district election commissions, the CEC statistics say.

“Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”