Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 136

Belarus’s Constitutional Court has asked the Central Electoral Commission for an opinion as to whether the parliamentary balloting on November 29 can proceed on the basis of two different versions of the election law. (14) The first, requiring a 50 percent minimum turnout for valid district results, was in force during the original round of voting in May that failed to elect a viable working parliament. The second version reduces the minimum to 25 percent, in keeping with an amendment that the incumbent legislature approved last month. President Aleksandr Lukashenko strongly opposes that amendment and insists he will not recognize results based on the lower turnout requirement. At a recent meeting, the president obtained support for his position from a majority of individuals who were elected in May but are still awaiting their investiture. As the electoral commission is likely to conclude that two conflicting versions cannot stand, the choice will then be in the hands of the Constitutional Court. Its decision will have an enormous impact on Belarus’s political future. The lower turnout requirement will ensure that more seats are filled whereas the 50 percent alternative risks another invalid election. But if the court opts for 25 percent it will find itself in another head-on collision with Lukashenko, already angry at seeing five of his decrees overturned. Lukashenko last week threatened to dismiss the justices unilaterally.

Warm Glow of Russian-Armenian Ties.