Illiberalism in Belarus By Alex Cockburn
Government • On paper Belarus is labeled a Republic • In reality it is in fact a Dictatorship, fronted by President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Who has been in power since July of 1994 • Lukashenko seized power by legal means three years after the liberation from the Soviet Union which happened in 1991. • Since then he has maintained power by means of rigged elections and intimidating political opponents
Elections • Presidential elections are held every four years, Belarus has multiple parties but only one can be in power. The party in power votes on a member to become president. • Since Lukashenko started his term in 1994 every election has gone in his favor, receiving more then 70% of the populations votes. • Many groups label the elections as frauds and rigged in Lukashenko’s favor. • Belarus also has universal suffrage, over the age of 18
Constitution • Belarus’s first constitution was written on March 15 of 1994 • It includes laws protecting human rights (although they are not demonstrated by authorities) • The population is predominantly Belarusian, but every race and gender is equal under law. • The constitution was revised in November 1996, greatly expanding presidential powers, revised again in October 2004 to remove presidential term limits
Journalism • Belarus was rated #5 on Freedom House’s “The Worst 10 Countries for Journalists” • There are four State controlled national TV channels • Television is highly censored by the government, no viewpoints that are not supporting the state are aired. • Citizens as well as Journalists suspected of criticising the government are detained or intimidated as punishment. • The Internet is also censored by the government,
Legal System • Follows Rule of Law, to a point. • Laws are constantly bent and modified to keep the people from revolting • Many citizens and internationals have been detained for poor reasons such as speaking out against the President or being associated with someone that did • Constantly being criticied by NGO’s and Human Rights Groups.
Judicial Branch • Belarus, like any other “democracy” has a Supreme Court. • All members are appointed by the President and on paper, have the power to refute his decisions. • But the are impartial, the supreme court answers to the president and have never denied him before
News Article http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/world/europe/belarus-presidents-supporters-win-every-parliament-seat.html?ref=belarus&_r=0 • Voter Turnout Was 75% • All of Lukashenko’s supporters won every seat in Parliament • Compared to former Soviet states with authoritarian governments that’s staged rigged elections. • Two opposition parties called a boycott, nothing materialized.
Summary! • Overall on paper Belarus is a democracy, thanks to President Lukashenko, it turned into a dictatorship • Liberal policies are said to have been put in place but few are followed • Human rights aren't followed, elections are rigged, Journalism is constrained. • Overall, a Very illiberal democracy • I rate this a 3/10 on the level of Liberalism “3”
Sources • http://www.nytimes.com • (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/ • http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=363&year=2009