Local elections in Belarus: Report on monitoring the phase of election campaigning
In comparison with the previous elections of local councils of deputies, this year’s elections are marked by a greater number of locations for campaigning events, meetings with voters and posting campaign materials. These venues are also more convenient. When making decisions about campaigning locations, local government s were increasingly guided by the principle “everything which is not forbidden is allowed.”
Much more candidates, as compared to the previous elections, filed notices of events under a simplified procedure. Accordingly, the number of announced election pickets increased. Traditionally, election campaigning events were more active in Minsk: one candidate announced an average of about 70 events.
In comparison with the previous elections of deputies of local councils, candidates made an extensive use of their right to open election funds for financing election campaign expenses. Nevertheless, the percentage of candidates who established electoral funds remains low (10.4%).
Only 35% of the observers deployed in the region s reported that local government - owned and private media published the program s of all the candidates. Most state - owned media were dominated by publications about the pro - government candidates (acting deputies, officials or CEOs at state - owned businesses ) , with virtually no information about the candidates from the opposition. Observers reported a lack of party flyers or other alternative materials. There were documented cases of censorship of campaign materials of candidates from the opposition, as well as dissemination of false or incomplete information.
Election commissions in the regions mainly failed to inform the public about the time and place of the meeting s with voters.
30% of the campaign ’s observers in the regions reported that candidates were deprived of equal opportunities and could not meet with voters in the premises provided by the authorities.
As during previous election campaigns, administrative resources were extensively used in favor of pro - government candidates . The y mainly campaign ed at meetings with voters in the assembly halls of government - owned businesses . Voter participation in these meetings was secured by the administration s of these businesses.
Administrative resources were actively used by current deputies taking part in official events. This created unequal conditions for other candidates. The district election commissions justified the practice by arguing that the deputies were engaged in their direct activities .
There were no significant barriers to elect oral pickets; however, there were elements of pressure at the pickets of opposition figures.