Presidential Elections underway in Belarus

nsnbc : Presidential elections began on Sunday in Belarus. Some 6.9 million registered voters including some 5,700 abroad can participate in the election. The polling stations opened at 08.00 and will be open until 20.00 local time. The electorate can pick between four contenders; Sergei Gaidukevich, Tatiana Korotkevich, Alexander Lukashenko and Nikolai Ulakhovich. 

Belarus Presidential Elections 2015_BelTAOver 6,100 polling stations opened for the Belarus presidential elections on Sunday at 8.00 local time. The Belarus State news agency BelTa reports that the names of the candidates for the country’s highest office are in alphabetical order on the ballots. Ballots also tell the candidates’ date of birth, profession, position, occupation, employment, residency and party membership.

Voters have also the possibility to put their cross on “non of the above”. Special voting devices enable voters with visual impairments to vote without the presence or help of another person. The final result of the election will be announced by the Central Election Commission, no later than 10 days after the election.

The election is recognized as valid if at least 50% of the eligible voters take part in the polls. Candidates will be recognized as the new Head of State if he/she receives more than half of the votes. Preliminary data reportedly show a high voter turnout. BelTa reports that during the five days of the early voting 36,05% voters enrolled in voting lists came to the polling stations. This is a record high turnout in the early voting during the period the election campaigns are held in Belarus.

As the polling stations close, exit polls results will be published, and the Central Election Commission plans to announce preliminary results of the election at about 1 at night on October 12.

The election is monitored by more than 900 international observers, including about 400 monitors from the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and another 400 from the Commonwealth of Independent States’ (CIS) mission. The heads of both missions are expected to issue preliminary statements or reports on October 12.

The contenders for the country’s highest office are the Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party Sergey Gaidukevich, representative of the Tell the Truth civic campaign Tatiana Korotkevich, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko and Chairman of the Belarusian Patriotic Party Nikolay Ulakhovich.

The incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko won the election in 1994, 2001, 2006 and 2010. Lukashenko noted that he is confident to also win a fifth term in the 2015 elections.

Lukashenko’s confidence is supported by a poll conducted by the National Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies registered in Lithuania. The survey last month showed that 72% of voters are willing to take part in the elections. According to the poll, 45.7% of voters are ready to vote for incumbent head of state Alexander Lukashenko, 17.9% are ready to support Korotkevich, 11.4% – Gaidukevich and 3.6% – Ulakhovich.

Incumbent President Lukashenko has played a pivotal role in brokering the Minsk Accords within the Normandy Group format, that brought about a ceasefire and launched the political dialog aimed at solving the crisis in Ukraine. Belarus is a member of the CIS, the CSTO as well as of the newly-formed Eurasian Economic Union – EEU.

F/AK – nsnbc 11.10.2015

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