Election campaign in the regions
Election results at the local level can be regarded as the de-facto ignorance by people in several regions of electoral procedures. The election campaign has not helped the authorities gain a more positive image and, as a consequence, the authorities’ legitimacy in the eyes of the population continues to fall.
Elections to the National Assembly were almost ignored by several regions, above all, Minsk. In some districts, according to observers, the turnout was 35-39%. In particular in Minsk district no. 101, where a demonstrative boycott campaign was organized, the voter turnout was 35% and elections did not take place. Similar moods could be noted in the Grodno region, where there was a general lack of desire among voters to go to the polls.
Officially, elections to the Palace of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Fifth Convocation were held. Around the country the official turnout of voters was 74.2%. 109 of 110 deputies were elected. The elections did not take place in Gomel-Novobelitskii voting district no. 36 where Igor Prokopenko, Assistant to the President, Chief Inspector for the Gomel region, removed his candidature due to a corruption scandal. No representative of the opposition won a seat.
In general, the 2012 election showed a trend that the government’s national institutions are gradually weakening. Parliamentary elections resembled elections to local councils, which are characterized by low interest in the candidates, low voter turnout, and totally predictable results. What is more, this is the first national election campaign did not serve as a reason for mass street protests by the opposition - which also, in principle, fits the local elections analogy. Development of this trend is dangerous for the further delegitimization of official Minsk both on the level of regional elite, as well as regarding the population’s perception.
The 2012 election campaign also demonstrated the fact that an election boycott is not directly connected with agitation, but reflects a general socio-political mood within society. In other words, the boycott of the elections on a daily-life level seems to be an appropriate response by the population to the non-transparent politics of official Minsk.
Despite the fact that elections took place formally, the way in which the pre-election campaign and voting took place gives reason for not accepting them as democratic and fair due to generally accepted procedures not being respected on a large-scale.