Elections-2019 in the Republic of Belarus: Chronology of Events and Results
On November 17, 2019, Belarus held regular elections of deputies to the parliament as part of the National Assembly of the seventh convocation. One distinctive feature of the campaign was the fact that the previously elected parliament resigned almost a year earlier than the term stipulated by the electoral legislation.
Read why this happened and how events developed in our analytical review.
Facts and Background
The previous election of deputies to the National Assembly was held on September 11, 2016. This implied that the term of office should have expired on September 10, 2020 (according to the legislation of Belarus, the parliament is elected for four years). But presidential elections were already planned for 2020, as the term of office of the incumbent head of state would expire on August 30, 2020.
Initially, the President of the country stated that there were no prerequisites for early elections. A little later, the head of the Central Election Committee, Lidiya Yermoshina, added that it was unlikely that two election campaigns would be held in the same year. It was expected that the priorities would be arranged during the annual address of the head of state to the National Assembly and the people.
This is what happened when Alexander Lukashenko announced that the parliamentary elections would be held early.
On August 5, 2019, the President of the country signed decrees to hold elections for the Council of the Republic (The Upper House of Parliament) and the House of Representatives. November 17, 2019, was chosen as the voting date.
Unique Features of the Electoral System and Legislation
The Parliament of the Republic of Belarus consists of two Chambers - the Council of the Republic (appointed directly by the President) and the House of Representatives (elected under the majoritarian system in single-mandate constituencies). The lower chamber is formed by 110 deputies, of whom 20 represent Minsk and 90 more - the remaining six regions of the country.
According to the electoral legislation, elections for the new lower house of parliament must be scheduled no later than 30 days before the end of the term of office of the incumbent deputies. Any citizen of the country who has reached the age of 21 can be elected to the House of Representatives. There are a few conditions, including the absence of a criminal record and permanent residence on the territory of the Republic of Belarus.
The nomination of candidates for deputies is carried out in several ways:
- Political parties are officially listed in the register of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus. Nomination is carried out by the supreme bodies of the parties.
- Labor collectives are held at meetings at the place of work. The nomination is based on the results of a meeting attended by at least half of the list of employees (the total number of personnel of the organization must exceed 300 people).
- Citizens of the country collect signatures. Nomination is carried out by members of the candidate’s initiative group consisting of 10 or more people. To become a candidate for the House of Representatives, one must collect at least 1,000 signatures in his or her constituency.
Elections are held by secret ballot: the voter fills in the ballot in a special room or booth. The electoral legislation presupposes the participation of candidates’ proxies and observers, media representatives in all types of voting, and the vote-counting process. Candidates for deputies to the House of Representatives may also be present at the polling stations.
A majoritarian system of absolute majority in the first round and relative majority in the second round is used to summarize results and distribute mandates. For elections to be considered valid, at least half of the voters from a pre-formed list in a constituency must participate. The required turnout percentage for the second round is 25%. The results are published by the Central Election Committee a few days after the completion of voting and the counting of ballots.
How Did the Nomination Process Work?
The registration of candidates for the House of Representatives of the Seventh Convocation ended on October 18, 2019. There were 558 candidates for 110 seats in the Lower House of Parliament. Initially, more than 700 people could become candidates, but some of the applicants were denied registration. Among them were incumbent MPs from the opposition parties, Anna Konopatska and Elena Anisim.
The Liberal Democratic Party nominated the maximum number of candidates to the parliament - 98 applicants (17.5% of the total number). The top three also included representatives of the Communist Party of Belarus (50 mandate seekers or 8.9% of the total number) and the United Civil Party (47 candidates, 8.4% of the total number).
Voting and Results
Early voting was held from November 12 to 16, and the main vote was held on November 17, 2019. More than 39,000 observers from Belarus and 1,030 international observers were accredited to monitor compliance with the electoral legislation.
The next day, the Central Election Committee published preliminary results, which determined all elected MPs. The final results were announced on November 22, and sessions of both chambers of the newly elected parliament were scheduled for December 6.
The turnout for the 2019 parliamentary elections was 77.40%, with 5.32 out of 6.87 million registered voters casting their vote in support of a candidate.
According to the voting results, none of the opposition candidates passed to the National Assembly. 89 out of 110 mandates went to non-partisans, 11 seats in the House of Representatives were taken by deputies from the Communist Party of Belarus, 6 - from the Republican Party of Labor and Justice, 2 - from the Belarusian Patriotic Party, one each - from the Liberal Democratic Party and the Belarusian Agrarian Party.
Chairperson of the Central Election Committee of Belarus, Lidiya Yermoshina, said, “In general, the election campaign was held at a decent level, although the organizers of the elections have some work to do. We have shortcomings; we know them better than any observers because we see the process from the inside. Of course, it needs to be improved.”
A few summary statistics:
- Among the elected deputies were 44 women, which is a significant increase compared to the results of the elections to the House of Representatives of the VI convocation (where there were 38).
- There are two persons under 30 years of age in the renewed parliament.
- The average age of members of the newly elected parliament is 50.4 years.
- Thirty people (27.3%) received a parliamentary mandate for the second time.
- All elected deputies have a university degree.