One step to setting Belarus parliamentary election dates

On July 30, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka has met with Lidziya Yarmoshyna, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC), to discuss the preparation for the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Lidziya Yarmoshyna put forward the initiative to hold elections to the Council of the Republic (upper chamber) on November, 7 and elections to the House of Representatives (lower chamber) on November, 17.

“The head of state suggested fine-tuning these proposals taking into account the opinion of local authorities. He also suggested presenting these draft decrees with specific dates by next Monday (I think the election campaign will start on 5 August),” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the top official.

According to her, no limits will be on the number of international observers for the partiamentary elections. At the same time, Alyaksandr Lukashenka stressed that Belarus would not ‘beg anyone to come and observe’.

As the Belarusian leader seems to be undecided about the issue, the exact dates have been wrapped in mystery for long. In February 2019, Ms Yarmoshyna said that it was still unknown whether the parliamentary or presidential campaign would kick off in the autumn of 2019.

The House of Representatives consists of 110 MPs who are elected to four-year terms in single-member constituencies. The Council of the Republic comprises 64 senators; 56 of them are elected by regional councils of deputies, eight senators are appointed directly by the head of state.

The recent elections to the House of Representatives took place in September, 2016. Fore the first time in 20 years two representatives of the Belarusian opposition – Hanna Kanapatskaya (United Civic Party) and Alena Anisim (Belarusian Language Society) — became MPs.

According to the OSCE report, the 11 September parliamentary elections were ‘efficiently organized’, but, despite some first steps by the authorities, a number of long-standing systemic shortcomings remained.

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