Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Only 183 nominees of opposition parties included in precinct election commissions

As many as 183 of the 1,073 nominees of opposition political parties, or 17 percent, have been included in precinct election commissions for the December 19 presidential election, Mikalay Lazavik, secretary of the central election commission, told BelaPAN on Thursday.

Membership in precinct commissions was granted to 78 of the 283 nominees of the "Spravedlivy Mir" (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left, 54 of the 505 nominees of the United Civic Party, 36 of the 201 nominees of the Belarusian Popular Front, 10 of the 48 nominees of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, five of the 29 nominees of the Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada and none of the seven nominees of the Conservative Christian Party, Mr. Lazavik said.

Only two of the more than 1,300 nominees of opposition parties were included in precinct election commissions for the previous, 2006 presidential election.

As many as 1,586 nominees of pro-government parties became members of precinct commissions for the December 2010 election, including 545 of the 705 nominees of the Communist Party of Belarus, 428 of the 468 nominees of the Republican Party of Labor and Justice, 406 of the 420 nominees of the Belarusian Social and Sports Party, 144 of the 147 nominees of the Belarusian Agrarian Party and 63 of the 68 nominees of the Republican Party, according to Mr. Lazavik.
A total of 23,689 representatives of pro-government NGOs were granted membership in precinct commissions, including 9,556 representatives of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus, 4,126 representatives of the Belarusian Women’s Union, 3,925 representatives of Belaya Rus, 3,860 representatives of the Belarusian National Youth Union and 2,222 representatives of the Belarusian Association of War Veterans.

Qualifications and not party affiliation were the key criterion for evaluating candidates for precinct commission membership, Mr. Lazavik commented.
The formation of the commissions was in accordance with the Electoral Code, he stressed.

Under the amended Electoral Code, representatives of political parties and NGOs shall account for at least one-third of the members of a commission. The amended Electoral Code bars representatives of local executive committees from being members of election commissions and limits the share of civil servants on a commission to one-third.

According to Mr. Lazavik, 41.8 percent of the members of the precinct commissions are representatives of parties and NGOs and only 4.5 percent are civil servants.

The country's 6,346 precinct election commissions have 70,815 members, including 3,156 civil servants, 8,407 people under 30 years of age and 48,307 women.
As many as 27,851 of the members were nominated by non-governmental organizations, 27,003 by citizens through the collection of voter signatures, 14,192 by "workers' collectives" and 1,769 by political parties.

Only eight nominees of opposition parties were granted membership in precinct election commissions in the Minsk and Mahilyow regions, Viktar Karnyayenka, a coordinator of the Campaign for Free Elections, recently launched by more than 10 opposition parties and other groups, said in an interview with BelaPAN. "This clearly shows the bias of the election authorities," Mr. Karnyayenka said.

The number of nominees of opposition parties was not very large because they prioritized quality over quantity, he said. "We nominated people who were fully prepared for service on precinct commissions," he said.

It is very unfortunate that the scenario of the current election campaign does not differ that the scenarios of previous elections, Mr. Karnyayenka. "The authorities are not ready for a real liberalization of the election process," he said.

Opposition presidential hopefuls have pointed to broad representation on precinct commissions, which are the ones that count ballots, as a key condition for the election to be democratic and fair.