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Final report of Right to Choose Campaign 2019

15.12.2019

Campaign on observation of the election of deputies to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus of the 7th Convocation

KEY CONCLUSIONS

  1. No amendments have been introduced into Electoral Code and law enforcement practice since the end of previous election campaign.
  2. Same as before, the absence of guarantees enshrined in electoral law for representation of political parties-electoral subjects at the level of election commissions allows for using arbitrary and discriminatory approach towards opposition parties and movements in the process of formation of election commissions.
  3. A significant number of members of district commissions (22 persons) and precinct commissions (950 persons) represent political parties that are not involved in the election process.
  4. The process of filing appeals against refusals to register MP candidates is a mere formality, since there are no clear criteria for the formation of election commissions.
  5. The election campaign is conducted under conditions of constant pressure against opposition candidates. Any and all political slogans are regarded as a violation of Article 47 of the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus (ECRB). State authorities resort to ongoing censorship of more or less sharp speeches published in the media by interpreting Articles 47 and 75 of the ECRB in an arbitrary way.
  6. Opposition candidates made significantly more extensive use of social media and independent websites which allowed them to communicate key items of their election programs to voters.
  7. The current state government is concerned about the activity of independent observers, especially those representing the “Right to choose” campaign, and is making efforts to neutralize the potential negative effect (from the government perspective) of observers’ activity with the help of “observation spamming”.
  8. The Council of the Republic of Belarus is formed on a non-alternative basis with the inclusion of exclusively high-ranking officials.
  9. A new trend of the election process is the emergence of candidates representing social groups that used to avoid any kind of affiliation with political parties (young people, mothers-328, social protest groups, etc.).
  10. Early voting was used to unequivocally clear the 50% turnout threshold in voting precincts. Two main methods were applied for this purpose: compulsory participation in early voting (coercion of students, people living in dormitories, members of labor collectives residing in the territory of voting precinct) and direct falsification of turnout figures when the official figures reported by precinct election commissions (PECs) and the results of simultaneous vote counting performed by observers differed from each other by several times. In several cases, unauthorized persons were allowed to exercise illegal control over early voting process with the participation or direct assistance of PEC members.
  11. Ballot boxes remain non-transparent and they are stored in improper conditions. Senior members of PECs took advantage of the fact that neither the ECRB, nor the methodology guidelines contain an explicit provision on procedure for storing the ballot boxes during lunch breaks and at night time.
  12. Observers representing the “Right to Choose” campaign recorded a number of cases where non-residents of the territory assigned to voting precinct were allowed to cast ballots.
  13. PECs interfered with the work of independent observers by depriving them of space for conducting election monitoring, refusing to provide information on the number of voters registered in voting precinct and failing to publish vote count protocols on the results of daily voting as well as the final protocol.
  14. Senior members of PECs displayed hostility towards observers representing the “Right to Choose” campaign which manifested itself in denial of accreditation and revocation of accreditation for no good reason.
  15. Vote counting process was unfair and non-transparent. Observers were deprived of the opportunity to monitor the process, the results of split tabulation of votes weren’t made public.
  16. Official data on voter turnout does not correspond to reality.
  17. The new composition of the House of Representatives is even more sterile than before. The experiment with the introduction of opposition MPs was deemed to be unsuccessful.

The “2019 Right to Choose” campaign conducts long-term and short-term observation of all stages of electoral campaign in the elections of deputies to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus (7th convocation).

Long-term observation is conducted through the efforts of campaign secretariat and representatives of member organizations, namely, Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), the Organizing Committee of Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD), Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Gramada) (BSDP), Movement “For Freedom”, United Civic Party (UCP), Belarusian Party “Greens”, the Organizing Committee of the Party of Freedom and Progress (PFP), Trade Union of Radio-Electronic Industry (REI).

Download the final report in PDF here: https://pvby.org/sites/default/files/final_report_eng_2_pdf.pdf

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