Electoral Code amendments expected to be submitted to House of Representatives next week
The central election commission's bills of amendments to the Electoral Code will be submitted to the House of Representatives next week, said the presidential press office.
This decision was made during a November 10 government conference with Alyaksandr Lukashenka in attendance, the press office said.
According to it, the bills are expected to be passed during the current session of the National Assembly.
The central election commission proposes, in particular, that representatives of political parties and non-governmental organizations account for at least one-third of the members of the precinct and district election commissions, the press office said.
"I see no problem with this at all," Mr. Lukashenka was quoted as saying. "Decisions are made by executive committees. Go there and you'll be included in election commissions. But there should be no compulsion to ensure that a half or one-third of a commission's members are representatives of political parties."
Secondly, the candidate nomination and registration procedures would be simplified and political parties would be allowed to nominate candidates in electoral districts where they have no chapters.
Thirdly, despite being limited to designated venues, candidates would only be required to notify authorities to hold campaign events. Joint campaigning would also be allowed, the press office said.
"There're no big problems here either," the press office said. "But let's agree once and for all: wherever this is, in Minsk, Mazyr, Byaroza or any village soviet, there is a specially designated place and there should be no other place for any parties. You're welcome to hold [campaign events] there. But you should notify [authorities] in advance so that we can ensure security and order. God forbid that this order be disturbed."
Fourthly, candidates would be allowed to set up funds to support their campaigns. However, fundraising and spending would be under strict government supervision, the press office said. "If someone has money, he is welcome to spend it," Mr. Lukashenka commented.
Fifthly, the voter turnout requirement for local elections would be abolished.
"However, the turnout threshold for presidential elections shouldn't be touched," Mr. Lukashenka stressed. "The minimum of 50 percent plus one vote should remain."
"But you should bear in mind that local authorities will be evaluated in the strictest way to prevent attempts to withdraw from conducting election campaigns," Mr. Lukashenka added.
In addition, observers would be granted broader rights and allowed to monitor the ballot counting process, the press office said.
"But again, I don’t see a problem here," Mr. Lukashenka said. "The election commission chair decides who should and who shouldn't be given access to the ballot counting process. That is why the adoption of a strict procedure is in itself a kind of pressure and the erosion of the approach that we currently have. Nevertheless, let's discuss even this proposal."
As a result of the discussion, nearly all of the amendments were approved as proposed by the central election commission, the press office said.