Belarusian Presidential Election 2020: The Game is On

According to Lidzyia Yarmoshyna, head of the central electoral commission, the presidential election of 2020 in Belarus is to be held on August 30. Although many believed that the authorities will try to conduct the election in 2019 or the early beginning of 2020, the next election is to take place on the last day specified by the electoral law. Interestingly, the election day coincides with the birthday of the incumbent president.

Who are the candidates?

During all the previous presidential elections in Belarus, there were attempts to find a united opposition candidate as a single opponent to Lukashenka. This goal was more or less achieved in 2006 when opposition chose Aliaksandr Milinkevich. Later, however, another candidate – Aliaksandr Kazulin – came to the forefront dividing the votes from the opposition.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka attends the Roundtable Summit Phase One Sessions of Belt and Road Forum at the International Conference Center in Yanqi Lake on May 15, 2017 in Beijing, China. REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool/FORUM

Today, chances for a single opposition candidate are even smaller. As soon as Yarmoshyna named the August 30, 2020 as a potential day for the election, several opposition forces expressed their intention to run as opponents to Lukashenka (who himself already publicly spoke about running for the presidency).

Alena Anisim, who is currently one of the two opposition parliamentarians and the head of the organization Belarusian Language Society, said that she hopes to be able to unite a large part of the population.

Alena Anisim

Yury Hubarevich, the head of the Movement for Freedom, Mikalai Kazlou, the representative of the United Civic Party and Paval Seviarynets, co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy, announced that they will participate in the primaries. This will determine the candidate for the center-right coalition.

Mikalai Statkevich, the head of the People’s Hramada and one of the main opponents of Lukashenka in 2010, was put forward by the Belarusian National Congress. The Liberal Democratic party’s representative, Aleh Haidukevich, has expressed his intention to run for presidency highlighting economy and interests of business. Belarusian People’s Party has put forward the deputy chairman of their party, Aliaksei Yanukevich. There is also former political prisoner Siarhei Skrabets.

Mikola Statkevich, 29 October 2018

‘Tell the Truth’ whose representative Tatsiana Karatkevich became the first female candidate for the presidency in 2015, will also announce its candidate later.

Focus of the campaign

The upcoming presidential campaign is likely to focus on independence and potential Russian invasion. It was widely discussed and speculated upon in the last few years due to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. In the same line, the campaign will concentrate on the issue of cooperation with the EU.

Lidziya Yarmoshyna, phot. by Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

The campaign will touch upon the the economics issues like potential economic models from the opposition candidates, proposals on developing the private sector and improving conditions for smaller businesses. The regime will traditionally stick to its arguments involving stability, continued state ownership of state enterprises and potential increase in salaries and pensions.

Will this election be different?

Many believe that the presidential election 2020 might become the last term of Lukashenka considering his earlier suggestion of strengthening the role of the parliament and government.

‘This way Lukashenka is preparing for the transition of power. He has already stated that he does not want to leave as much authority to the next president as the current Constitution gives him,’ journalist Artsiom Shraibman writes for carnegie.ru.

A Belarussian student walks to cast his ballot during pre-schedule voting at a polling station in Minsk, October 6, 2015. The presidential election in Belarus is scheduled for October 11, 2015. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

For now, there are no expectations that the election will be free and fair, as the routine of election fraud in Belarus was evident at every election.

Opposition politicians in Belarus do not participate in the political struggle. They rather play roles in the production show, whose script is written by the Lukashenka’s regime. There is no politics or elections in the country – although many want to play their simulation. As a result, we all live in the Performance Society,” writes philosopher Uladzimir Matskevich.

One more peculiarity of the election 2020 is the budget that has significantly increased compared to all previous elections. The state budget for 2020 shows that the regime plans to spend $18,1 mln organizing the election, which is $3m more than was spent on the presidential election 2015, notes Officelife.

Early voting is ‘convenient and effective’ Belarus CEC head claims

Timing is important

Lidziya Yarmoshyna said the election date would suit the majority of Belarusians since they would have already come back from holidays.

Yury Hubarevich, the head of the Movement for Freedom, took a different view on the issue. He believes that since the majority of the electoral campaigns are accompanied by the street manifestations, summertime is the most convenient period for campaigning, writes Radio Freedom.

Belarus’ presidential election may be held on Lukashenka ‘former’ birthday

Although the election is expected to be held on August 30, the campaigning period falls on summer when the accessibility of the opposition candidates to the electorate will be even lower than usual. In the conditions of already restricted access of the opposition candidates to the media and registration barriers created by the regime, the season can play a negative role in campaigning of opposition candidates.

Alesia Rudnik Belsat.eu

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