The authorities received the strongest psychological blow.
It was proposed at a meeting with Lukashenka to ban campaigning for disrupting “elections”. If signed into law, the initiative will ban boycotting of all “election campaigns” carried out by the Lukashenka regime.
Charter97.org asked Zmitser Bandarenka, a coordinator of the civil campaign European Belarus and former political prisoner, to comment on the initiative.
The authorities got the strongest psychological blow in 2012, when most voters in Belarus ignored the so called election to the so called house of representatives. Most democratic parties and movements either called to boycott the election from the very beginning or withdrew their candidates before the voting day. According to independent and party observers, voter turnout was 35-38% even taking into account the enforced early voting. The authorities understand that only 10-15% of voters will participate the performance called 'local election'. So they proposed a great idea to ban boycotts in Belarus and make both early voting and all elections compulsory as it was in the USSR.
I'd like to note that such a decision denies the data from pseudo-independent sociologists, like professor Manaeu, who reported about 70% voter turnout at the parliamentary election. If the election hadn't been boycotted, Lukashenka and Yarmoshyna wouldn't have shown such a nervous reaction.
The authorities are making mistakes again and again in economy, the financial sector and politics. They wish Belarusians, like in the old Soviet times, would march to vote in columns and 99.9% of voters cast their ballots for “the most decent” representatives of the authorities. But it doesn't work today. Lukashenka has no power and resources to make all Belarusians obedient. The decision on baning boycotts will further worsen the image of the Belarusian regime in the world. Some more hundreds of thousands of Belarusians will leave the country to escape total pressure. Tension between people and the authorities will grow.
Will opposition run in Lukashenka's elections in these conditions?
It would be interesting to see the behaviour of certain pretended opposition members, who had earlier promised not to run in elections until the release of political prisoners, but then decided that Belarusian voters are eager to know their election programmes. In today's situation these people are just cogs in the totalitarian system.
Your forecast: How will elections in Belarus be held?
Belarusians will boycott elections and boycott the regime. The dictatorship will fail in its fight against boycotts. Yarmoshyna says those calling to boycott elections will face administrative punishment. Campaigning will move to the internet and social media. The [Belarusian] diaspora will play a great role in opposing the totalitarian elections. Millions of Belarusian citizens live abroad beyond the reach of the authorities. Resistance to the dictatorship will only strengthen.