Analytical Report on the Formation of Precinct Election Commissions
Observation is carried out by activists of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in the framework of the campaign Human Rights Defenders For Free Elections
I. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
- on July 27, local authorities completed the formation of precinct election commissions, which are an important element of the electoral process, as they are directly involved in the organization of voting and the counting of votes. A total of 5,971 PECs were formed, with 65,856 people selected as election commissioners.
- the formation of the PECs took place against a background of widely announced new approaches to be applied by the authorities in charge of the process: the possibility of observers (including international ones) to attend the meetings of bodies in charge of forming the commissions, discussing business and political qualities of the nominated candidates. In cases where the amount of nominees exceeds the stipulated quota, information on each nominee should be considered and a separate vote should be carried out;
- the Central Election Commission did not support the proposal of the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign to remove the concept of ‘political qualities’ from para. 6 of the CEC’s Decree No. 18 of 8 June 2016 before the beginning of the formation of the PECs, which, according to the campaign’s experts, entrenched the practice of biased and discriminatory approaches to their formation;
- all the entities who nominated their representatives to the PECs were generally provided with the opportunity to submit the necessary documents to the authorities responsible for the formation of commissions;
- representatives of the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign had the opportunity to freely attend meetings of the bodies responsible for the formation of the PECs;
- in most cases, the PECs were formed through voting for a list of candidates, without discussing the nominated candidates, at separate meetings the nominees were not even introduced and no characteristics were announced. At most meetings, the lists of nominees were drafted in advance. About a quarter of the meetings discussed part of the nominees, including their business and political qualities; in some cases, applicants were invited for interviews.
- the formation of the PECs was accompanied by an obvious discriminatory approach of executive committees to representatives of opposition parties: only 53 people (10.3% of the total number of opposition nominees) were included in the PECs out of 514 proposed candidates, while 3,358 people (89%) became commission members out of 3,773 nominees put forward by the pro-government parties. The five largest pro-government public associations (Belarusian Republican Youth Union, Belaya Rus, Women’s Union, Veterans’ Union, and Federation of Trade Unions) nominated 27,080 people, with 25,546 people (94%of nominated candidates) were eventually selected to work as election commissioners.
- the country’s opposition parties will be represented in the PECs by 53 people or 0.08% of the total composition, which is less than in the parliamentary elections of 2012 (61 people or 0.1% of the total composition of the PECs) and approximately equal to the number of members of the opposition on the PECs in the 2008 parliamentary elections (48 or 0.07%).
- the absence of legislatively fixed criteria for candidates to election commissions still results in a highly partial approach to the personal composition of these commissions; the CEC’s Decree No. 18 has failed to contribute to greater political pluralism: as in the earlier elections, the formation of the PECs was based on a bias in favor of representatives of the pro-government political parties and public associations;