Belarusian opposition is set to participate in parliamentary elections
Most political parties have started compiling lists of candidates for the Belarusian parliamentary elections, which are likely to take place in early autumn of 2016. Previously, most democratic forces representatives required amendments to the electoral law as a condition of their participation in the elections. Despite the fact that the electoral law is unlikely to change, Belarusian political parties seem to have changed their position in a constructive manner – most likely due to the failure of the boycott / neglect strategy, which was extremely popular in the democratic camp during the presidential campaign, and the relative success of the only opposition candidate, Tatsiana Karatkevich. According to preliminary estimates, democratic organisations collectively may nominate about 240 candidates. They do not plan to divide constituencies among them. In addition, the loyal to the authorities Liberal Democratic Party may nominate about 110 candidates (one for each constituency). All in all, if the authorities are not too harsh with cutting off bidders, in some districts, especially in big cities, up to seven candidates may compete for a deputy seat.
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.