Authorities can hold elections without any voters, political scientists claim

In the coming weeks, another presidential election campaign will be announced in Belarus. This time the main questions are: how will the campaign be held during the coronavirus pandemic and should we take part in it?

The United Opposition, consisting of four political structures, is now trying to nominate a single candidate. The coronavirus pandemic has prevented politicians from travelling around the planned fifty-six cities. Nevertheless, the leader of the United Civil Party, Mikalai Kazlou, has won the Internet voting.

“We can’t tolerate Lukashenka anymore – all this irrationality he generates during the epidemic. I think the majority of the country’s citizens understand that we can’t tolerate it anymore. So our task is to identify a single candidate and try to unite the opposition community,” said Mikalai Kazlou.

Earlier, two primary campaigners — Deputy Head of the BPF party Aliaksei Yanukevich and BCD party leader Pavel Seviarynets — left the primary campaign. In their opinion, during the voting in the settlements, the local authorities used administrative resources, voting for the leader of the Movement For Freedom Yury Hubarevich. In turn, his movement called the participation of officials in the voting “a hybrid attack on the primaries”. Pavel Seviarynets calls for a boycott of the election.

“Look, Lukashenka organizes sports events, subbotniks, parades. And here’s a performance called elections. We must not participate! This participation can turn into a national strike, and all this can lead to the destruction of the regime. There may be a split of the elites – this monolith that Lukashenka has. After all, there will be no money to pay the law enforcement officials, and it may have a decisive role,” says Pavel Seviarynets.

The leader of the Narodnaya Hramada, Mikalai Statkevich, will actively participate in the election campaign to organize “peaceful, mass and long-term protest”. He, as well as 30 party activists, is planning to register their campaigning groups to use the chance of legal street agitation.

“Now everybody is convinced they should go out and say: Lukashenka is a bigger trouble than the coronavirus. Put on masks, if anyone doesn’t have them, we’ll give them away, it’s safe from the coronavirus, as well as from those who records people, and we’ll go out,” said Statkevich.

Experts are convinced that the current election campaign will not have any significant differences from the campaigns of past years, regardless of the actions of the opposition or other participants in the election race.

“The system of so-called elections has been polished since 1996 and it has been polished to the end. This system can hold elections without any voters. And the coronavirus can only help – this will be the main difference between this election and previous ones. Perhaps those who hold the elections, will have enough intelligence to slightly lower the voter turnout rate,” says political analyst Siarhey Nikaliuk.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka is preparing to run for another presidential term – the seventh in a row. According to the all-time leader, the elections will be held no later than August 2020.

Halina Abakunchyk, Belsat