BAJ releases second monitoring of presidential elections’ media coverage
The monitoring summarises the findings of the second stage of the monitoring, i.e. between 1 September and 20 September, 2015. According to the schedule of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus, it was during this time span that the CEC finished checking the voters’ signatures endorsing potential presidential hopefuls; the candidates were formally registered and launched their campaigns.
As we have already pointed out, this time the monitored state-owned online media gave more prominence to the upcoming election than they had in the previous 2010 presidential campaign.
As the campaigning began, some positive changes could be traced in the representation of the incumbents’ opponents and the coverage of their activities. For example, the state-owned media came up with some neutral reports of the candidates’ televised addresses to the voters and their campaigning. The state-owned media also presented an overview of the presidential hopefuls’ agendas. At the same time, they stuck to the old model of election coverage, which is characterised by focussing on the incumbent and giving him positive assessment. They also featured the CEC and regional election commissions, local authorities and their work, as well as some technical aspects of getting the polling stations ready for the voting day, compiling the lists of voters, etc.
Like in the previous monitored time span, the key actors of the campaign were the incumbent and the CEC. The other candidates stood no chance of competing with them in terms of the air time and space they received.
Despite raised hopes, a full turn toward Europe seems unlikely.
Do recent events indicate that Belarus could fully turn towards Europe and pull away from Russia politically? In the last few months, a number of developments have excited observers in international media and revitalised old debates about the former Soviet country’s future. But despite positive indications, a broader view suggests that this prediction may be overly optimistic.
In the judgment of most media freedom or democracy indexes, the Eastern European country is labelled as one of the worst in Europe and in recent years Belarus has shown no tangible progress towards establishing a free media atmosphere.