dissolved the last real Belarusan parliament in November, 1996. Successor bodies are unrecognized by Western governments, as is Lukashenka’s own continued mandate. The opposition boycott of parliamentary elections (see Russia’s Week, October 15) continued into the second round of balloting on October 29. The authorities claimed a 52.5 percent turnout nationwide. Even after two rounds, and even after lowering the minimum turnout to 25 percent for the second round, voting was too still light to produce a valid result in thirteen of 110 districts. Those districts will face a third round within two months.
Belarusans who can’t get enough of sham elections are a happy lot. Lukashenka will stand in a presidential election next year, and legislation is moving through the Russian Duma to establish an elected parliament for the Russia-Belarus Union.
Lithuania: The contrast between dictatorship and democracy could not be clearer. In Lithuania, power shifts back and forth from election to election between highly competitive center-left and center-right coalitions. Parliamentary elections October 8 gave the center-right the edge. The new government, formed last week, wants to secure invitations to join NATO in 2002 and the European Union in 2004. That means more defense spending for NATO and more deficit reduction for the EU. Those goals will be tough to achieve, especially if the government of 44-year-old Prime Minister