BELARUS
Parliamentary Chamber: Palata Predstaviteley

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2000

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Chamber:
  Palata Predstaviteley


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  15 October 2000
29 October 2000


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Representatives on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.


Background and outcome of elections:

  On 14 July 2000, President Lukashenko set 15 October 2000 as the date for the parliamentary elections. For the first time, the elections were held under the new Electoral Code adopted on 31 January 2000.

The opposition called for a boycott of the vote, alleging a lack of access to state-controlled mass media and insufficient powers for the Parliament. In early September 2000, the Justice Ministry threatened to hand down prison sentences of up to two years to anyone urging a boycott of the poll and several opposition members calling for a boycott were detained. Nevertheless, on 1 October 2000, an opposition demonstration in Minsk, described as "freedom march-3", called for a nationwide boycott.

Some 566 candidates ran for the 110 seats in the lower house of Parliament. Only about 50 of them were from the opposition. Most opponents to the President were barred by technicalities from standing or suffered harassment by the authorities in order to dissuade them from standing.

The elections were condemned by international observers as unfair because of the pressure exerted on opposition candidates and suspicions that the turnout had been artificially inflated. The official turnout was given as 61.08 per cent, although this figure was disputed by the opposition. This apparent high turn-out showed that the opposition failed to keep enough voters away from the polls to invalidate the ballot. According to the law, fifty per cent plus one voter must take part in the poll to make it valid.

Opposition leaders claimed there had been widespread vote tampering, while independent observers reported numerous violations, including falsified and destroyed ballots. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the election failed to meet international standards and the process remained flawed. The OSCE had refused to send a full observer mission to monitor the elections, accusing Minsk of failing to meet jointly agreed fairness standards: it only sent a technical assessment mission. On the other hand, the Russian observers declared the elections fair as no one in the delegation had remarked any serious violations. The Russian delegation was part of a group of 140 foreigners invited by the Belarusian authorities, to whom the Central Electoral Commission gave the status of "international observers", who declared that the vote was free and fair. For President Lukashenko, these declarations were the proof of the "double standards" used by the OSCE and the Western democracies. President Lukashenko has been cold-shouldered by Western governments since a controversial referendum in 1996, after which he increased his powers, extended his own term, dissolved an opposition-led parliament and formed a new hand-picked one. Since then, several of his opponents have been jailed and others have disappeared.

Parties loyal to President Lukashenko won most of the 41 seats where outright victory was achieved. Run-off votes were held on 29 October 2000 in 56 districts. In the remaining 13 districts where turnout fell short of the 50 per cent quorum, a new vote was held again. Several opposition groups boycotted run-off votes, claiming the vote was rigged in favour of backers of the President.

On 21 November 2000, the Chamber of Representatives elected Agriculture Minister Mr Vadzim Papou as its Speaker

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (15 October 2000): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 7 254 752
Voters 4 430 878 (61.08 %)
Round no 1 (29 October 2000): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 3 703 345
Voters 1 991 530 (51.78%)

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Communist Party of Belarus 6
Agrarian Party 5
Republican Party of Labour and Justice 2
Liberal Democratic Party 1
Social Democratic Party of People's Accord 1
Social and Sporting Party 1
No-party basis 81

Comments:
  Elections did not take place in 13 constituencies

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 87
Women: 10
Percent of women: 9.09

Distribution of seats according to age:  
21 to 30 years 1
31 to 40 years 15
41 to 50 years 46
51 to 60 years 29
61 to 70 years 6


Distribution of seats according to profession:

 
Economists 25
Legal professions 21
Business/Trade/Industry 12
Medical professions 8
Teachers 4
Others 27


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Copyright 2000 Inter-Parliamentary Union