Since the contested presidential elections last August, Belarus has seen a protest movement that is unprecedented in its history. One central demand of the opposition is to hold new presidential elections that meet basic criteria for electoral integrity.
These elections would likely be held without prior reform of electoral laws, whether they take place following a sudden collapse of the current regime or within a negotiated transition.
This briefing paper argues that competitive elections are possible without reforming the current legal framework, largely coinciding with the approach put forward by opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. However, the following steps would need to take place first:
- The government stops violating existing fundamental rights, like the freedom of assembly.
- The current Central Election Commission is replaced.
- An impartial and objective candidate registration process is put in place.
- The new election commission establishes election day procedures through regulation.
- Unhindered election observation is ensured.
- All contestants are given equal access to the media.
- An impartial resolution of election disputes is assured.
This paper was prepared by DRI in cooperation with the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE). DRI promotes political participation of citizens, accountability of state bodies and the development of democratic institutions worldwide. EPDE supports citizen election observation and contributes to democratic election processes throughout Europe.
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