Referendum-2022: Analytical report on the formation of precinct election commissions
The expert mission of observation of the 2022 referendum is carried out by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" within the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections".
- precinct election commissions (hereinafter — PECs) are one of the key mechanisms for holding a referendum in accordance with international principles of free and democratic elections and national electoral law;
- according to the current election legislation, the formation of PECs falls within the competence of local authorities;
- representatives of opposition parties and other public associations did not actively participate in the nomination of their representatives to the PECs, which is due to the atmosphere of general fear and repression created by the authorities, and none of the nominated representatives (42 persons) secured a seat on the commissions.
- the establishment of the PECs from among loyal representatives of pro-government parties, trade unions and public organizations completed preparations for the vote fully controlled by the executive;
- the authorities refused to set up PECs outside Belarus; given the many restrictions and bans on crossing the border of Belarus and other countries formally attributed to anti-epidemic measures, a large number of compatriots will be deprived of the opportunity to participate in the referendum;
- the bulk of nominees to the PECs were representatives of the five largest pro-government organizations – Belaya Rus, Youth Union, Women’s Union, Association of Veterans, Peace Foundation and local branches of the Federation of Trade Unions. All of them nominated 28,811 representatives, which made up 95.7% of the representatives of public associations and 48.7% of all candidates for the seats on the commissions. The role of nominees from political parties remains extremely low – 2,601 people or 4.4% of all nominees;
- the majority of PEC members are representatives of public associations – 29,894 persons, or 51.2%. The PECs provided seats to 98.9% of the representatives of the five pro-government public associations and trade unions out of the total number nominated by these entities;
- of the 42 candidates from the opposition parties, none was selected as a PEC member. Meanwhile, 98.1% of the total number of nominees from the pro-government political parties were selected. This demonstrates the persistence of discriminatory treatment of opposition political parties and independent NGOs in the formation of election commissions; for the first time in the history of independent Belarus, the opposition is not represented in the election commissions at all.