Parliamentary elections in Belarus could see a minor compositional change in the lower house of Parliament

Belarus holds parliamentary elections today. All 110 seats of the lower house are up for grabs, whereas the upper house

Belarus

Photo: AP photo/Sergei Grits

Belarus holds parliamentary elections today. All 110 seats of the lower house are up for grabs, whereas the upper house seats are indirectly appointed.

Belarusian elections are characterised by low opposition, candidate censorship and dismissal from the ballot. Indeed, the sole two opposition MPs elected in 2016 were the first since 1996.

For today’s polls, 150 candidates—mostly from the opposition—have been barred from contesting, owing to allegedly invalid signatures. While no party holds majority in the country—93 seats are held by independents—the Communist Party of Belarus is expected to remain in power due to their support for President Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko has held the presidency for 25 years using authoritarian rule. This has created political apathy among the Belarusian populace, which does not believe elections to be carriers of change.

However, today’s polls are likely to be more difficult for the incumbents, as 1,000 pro-democracy protesters turned up in Minsk on November 8.

While the Lukashenko administration has depoliticised elections, today’s polls can be expected to legitimise his governance. The parliament does not carry real authority, but any opposition representation will help him present a more democratic picture of the country.