Persistence of discriminatory approaches in the formation of territorial election commissions
Observation of the presidential election is carried out by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in the framework of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”.
- territorial election commissions (hereinafter TECs) are one of the key instruments in the administration of elections in accordance with the international principles of free and democratic elections and national electoral legislation;
- according to the current election legislation, the formation of TECs falls within the competence of local authorities and their executive committees;
- a peculiarity of this year’s election is the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which affected the process of nominating representatives of parties and public associations and the procedure for holding meetings of the bodies that formed the TECs;
- CEC Resolution No. 13 (as amended) provided for the possibility of either livestreaming the meetings convened to establish TECs (without inviting representatives of entities that nominated their representatives to commissions or the media) or publishing the full video recording of the meeting later; alternatively, the meetings could be attended physically and no livestream was organized;
- unlike in previous elections, CEC Resolution No. 13 did not provide for the possibility of attending meetings that formed election commissions by representatives of public associations whose observers were accredited with the CEC;
- most representatives of “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” had the opportunity to observe the meetings that formed TECs: through livestreams of meetings (40%), video records of meetings (13.6%), or in person (13.6%). There were difficulties in monitoring this phase of the election either due to the inability to attend meetings directly or due to the poor quality of livestreams (20%);
- in some cases, the lack of the right of representatives of public associations to attend the meetings that formed the election commissions, as well as absence of a uniform approach to holding these meetings, enshrined in the CEC Resolution, led to the observers’ failure to monitor this important phase of the election;
- as in previous elections, the bulk of the TEC nominees were representatives of six pro-government organizations: Belaya Rus, Belarusian Republican Youth Union, member organizations of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus, Belarusian Women’s Union, Belarusian Public Association of Veterans and the Belarusian Peace Foundation, which nominated 989 representatives, which is 86.7% of the representatives of public associations and 45.6% of all candidates for seats on the commissions. The role of nominees from political parties remained low — 179 people or 8.25% of all the nominees;
- the majority of TEC members are representatives of public associations — 1,095 people, or 55%. 97.7% of the six pro-government NGOs nominated by these entities were included in the TECs;
- of the 25 candidates from opposition parties, only two representatives became TEC members — activists of the BPF Party and the BSDP Hramada, which is 8% of the nominees. At the same time, 97.4% of the total number of nominated members of pro-government political parties were included in TECs. Compared to the previous presidential election, the number of representatives of opposition parties in TECs has decreased by 15 times, and the “success rate” has halved. This testifies to the persistence of discriminatory approaches in the formation of election commissions.
Read the full observation report here