No Belarus opposition candidates win seats in Parliamentary election

epa08003774 A man leaves a voting booth on his way to cast his ballot at a polling station in Minsk, Belarus, 17 November 2019. Belarussians went to polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

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Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko maintained his hold on power after results published early on Monday (18 November) showed not a single opposition candidate had won a seat in parliamentary elections over the weekend.

Lukashenko has governed the former Soviet country with an iron fist for a quarter of a century and plans to extend his rule beyond next year, announcing on Sunday he would stand in the 2020 presidential election.

The 65-year-old has given more leeway to the opposition and released political prisoners in recent years in a bid to improve ties with the West after rowing with traditional ally Moscow.

But official data on Monday showed, on a 77% turnout, no opposition figure won a seat. At the last election in 2016, two opposition members won seats for the first time in 20 years but neither was allowed to stand again this time around.

Lukashenko said the Belarusian people could vote him out of office next year if they no longer wanted him.

“I have promised that I would not hang on to this seat until my fingers turn blue. Trust me, it’s not really the softest chair,” he told reporters.

Via Euractiv

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