Parliamentary campaign kicks off in Belarus
Parliamentary campaign will, traditionally, take place in isolation: elections to electoral commissions and to the Parliament per se are closely controlled by the authorities. External political actors’ access will be minimal.
On June 18th, President Lukashenko signed a decree setting the Parliamentary elections date to the lower chamber, the House of Representatives for September 23rd. The upper chamber (Council of the Republic) will be formed between June 30 and September 30. On June 20th, the process of nomination of district election commission representatives kicked off.
The first campaign intrigue will be the nomination of 110 district election commissions’ members, which need to be set up before July 6th. Political parties and public organizations have already started nominating their representatives to the commissions. Within the current foreign policy context and taking into account previous experiences, the representation of the opposition in the election commissions will be either minimal or none at all.
In turn, at this stage of the campaign it is anticipated that there might be a competition between the Trade Unions Federation of Belarus and the National Association “Belaya Rus” for the right to participate in the district commissions. Both organizations are vying for the right to represent Belarusian civil society and for the benevolence of President Lukashenko in particular.
Finally, the KGB has also talked about its plans to monitor the campaign progress more actively. The role of the KGB is not yet clear, but it is expected that the KGB will use its capacity at least to prevent unwanted participants and observers from voting and counting procedures. Authorities’ main task during this election campaign is to ensure formation of manageable and predictable Parliament.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.