The next issue of PISM Policy Papers
by Anna Maria Dyner
The campaign ahead of the elections to the Belarusian parliament, which are scheduled for September 23, shows the specific nature of its political system. The main factors that distinguish Belarus from democratic countries are the marginal importance of the parliament, concentration of power in the institution of the president, the almost invisible role of the opposition and a defective system of counting votes (such as early voting), which encourages fraud and manipulation of the results. At the same time, the authorities do everything possible to maintain the status quo in the country. Not only does that mean that no single oppositional candidate has a chance to get a mandate in parliament but also that Belarusian authorities will try to avoid implementing necessary reforms, such as liberalisation of the political system or privatisation of state-owned enterprises, because they are afraid of losing power.