No opposition representatives. Who made it to the territorial referendum commissions in Belarus
Territorial referendum commissions have already been formed in Belarus. A total of 1,935 citizens, representatives of parties, public associations, and trade unions were nominated to 153 commissions. Among them were only 20 representatives of opposition parties throughout Belarus– the Belarusian Green Party, Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Hramada”, and Belarusian Left Party "A Just World"–but they were not included in the commissions. Only half of the nominees from Aleh Haidukevich's Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus were admitted to the commissions. Representatives of the “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” campaign analyzed territorial referendum commissions and explain the reasons for the lack of opposition members in election commissions.
Mostly female, the youth and opposition not represented. Who constitutes territorial commissions?
The 153 election commissions include 1,857 people. Of these, 400 are civil servants (more than 20%). Representatives of pro-government public associations, parties, and trade unions accounted for almost 60% of the total number of territorial commissions members (1,099 people). All 18 representatives of the Belarusian Left Party “A Just World” were not allowed into the referendum commissions, and the number of representatives of the Liberal Democratic Party was more than halved (5 out of 12 passed). However, almost all nominated communists passed– 80 out of 82.
Representatives of public associations, such as the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, Belaya Rus, the Belarusian Union of Women, and the Association of Veterans, make up almost the same percentage with each accounting for 105–150 people. Representatives of pro-government trade unions account for 17% of the territorial commissions.
The number of members of territorial commissions under the age of 30 has the lowest percentage–just over 4% (78 people).
Traditionally, the majority of commission members are women–over 65% (1,213 people).
The campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" tells about the nomination to Minsk city, regional, and district commissions.
In Minsk, representatives of traditional political parties were nominated, but none of them passed
Sixteen people were nominated to the Minsk City Election Commission. Only four of them were self-nominated, i.e. collected at least ten signatures from the citizens in their support, 12 were nominated by public associations. There were no nominees from worker’s associations.
Minsk City Commission was the only one where representatives of traditional political parties were nominated, namely those of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) and the Belarusian Green Party. First Deputy Chairman Aliaksei Sihayeu was nominated from the BSDP party, but he was not included in the Minsk City Election Commission. He was the only BSDP representative nominated to the commission of such a level. The commission also did not include representatives of the Belarusian Green Party and the Belarusian Left Party “A Just World”–each party nominated one person.
The communists are in the majority. Who made it to the regional commissions?
There are six regional referendum commissions in Belarus. Eighty-eight people were nominated to them, 12 of them were not selected. In total,13 party members were nominated. They represented the Belarusian Left Party “A Just World”, the Communist Party, and the Liberal Democratic Party (Aleh Haidukevich's party). As a result, representatives of the “A Just World” party were not included in the commissions throughout Belarus at all. Six communists (almost 7%) were nominated to regional commissions, and all of them passed the selection.
Forty-eight people were nominated by public associations and trade unions, namely from “Belaya Rus”, Belarusian Republican Youth Union, and the Union of Women. Only two of them failed to pass the selection. There were also 24 self-nominees and three people nominated by the worker’s associations.
Women make up more than 2/3 of district commissions
As in previous years, 118 district commissions were formed in Belarus. 1443 people were nominated, of whom 24 were not selected. With 872 people (more than 60%) the nominees from public associations, parties, and trade unions constitute the majority. Opposition parties did not nominate their representatives to district election commissions. Most of the nominees were communists (56 people) and five others were from the Liberal Democratic Party and the “A just world”. Unlike members of the Liberal Democratic Party and „A just world” who were rejected, all 56 communists made it to the district commissions.
District commissions have the highest percentage of women–almost 70% (966 people). Of the 476 citizens who were nominated to the commissions by collecting signatures, only eight were not selected. In order to be nominated, one had to collect at least ten signatures.
There were only two days for submission of documents: January 21 and 22 (Friday and Saturday). Despite the tight deadline, the announcements were published on the websites of executive committees at the end of the working day on January 21, or when the working time was over. In fact, potential candidates had only one day, Saturday, January 22, to collect ten signatures and submit documents.
“At the referendum, we will not see opposition representatives in the territorial commissions”
Representatives of the "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" campaign point out that the absence of opposition in the territorial commissions is among other reasons, the deep social and political crisis, which began immediately after the presidential election of 2020, and the fear of repressions against those disloyal to the authorities.
“Few people expected the activity of opposition structures at this stage of the preparation and holding of the referendum, given the ‘scorched’ political field. Nevertheless, 20 representatives of opposition parties were nominated to territorial commissions. An objective indicator of the inclusion of different political forces in the commissions is the ratio of the number of representatives included in the commissions to the number of nominated representatives. For the three opposition political parties, this indicator is zero; the five pro-governmental public associations and trade unions of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus have 99.17% of their nominees selected; the pro-governmental political parties have 74.16%; citizens' groups have 95.78%; workers' associations have 93.85%.
It should be added that traditionally active in election campaigns, the "For Freedom" movement and "Tell the Truth" campaign were deprived of state registration last year and can not nominate their representatives. Thus, we will not see opposition in the territorial commissions at the referendum,” said representatives of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections.”
The main day of the nationwide voting on amendments and additions to the Constitution is February 27. Early voting will be held from February 22 to February 26 inclusive. The only question for the referendum is: "Do you accept the amendments and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus?"