Belarusian opposition sidesteps post-election apathy and starts preparing for new election cycle

October 03, 2016 11:16

Putting aside the post-election apathy typical of the opposition, opposition parties started preparations for the next election campaign immediately after the parliamentary campaign The Central Election Commission, however, is reluctant to amend the Electoral Code in the near future. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities regard two representatives from the opposition in the supreme legislative body as sufficient concession to Western capitals until the next elections.

The Belarusian Central Election Commission has rejected as groundless two appeals to invalidate the parliamentary elections results.

The opposition has demonstrated good organisational skills, and immediately after the parliamentary elections has begun preparations for a new political campaign. The "Tell the Truth" campaign has submitted to the CEC proposals to improve the Electoral Code. The United Civic Party representative in the Parliament, Anna Konopatskaya, has already held two roundtables on electoral and economic issues and is planning to submit the amendments to the electoral law at the coming sessions.

Earlier, the CEC promised to consider changes to the electoral legislation immediately after the parliamentary elections. That said, the CEC head has given no encouragement to the initiative of the opposition parties regarding the improvements of the electoral code, and emphasised that the CEC played the main role in changing the legislation. In addition, she said that the amendments to the Code could be considered, if it was a joint initiative by all (or many) parties.

Apparently, the authorities are unlikely to consider amendments to the electoral legislation at the next session of the new parliament. The CEC head noted that the changes could be considered only after studying the OSCE/ODIHR final report on the results of the parliamentary elections in Belarus, which should be published in November.

On the one hand, Minsk would like to see the reaction of the West to novelties in the Belarusian political life and to the emergence of the opposition in the parliament, and on the other - to see the opposition’s commitment to work together in order to strengthen their positions.

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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.