Belarus held their presidential election today, and the country is reeling after allegations of fraud and other election infractions have rocked the former soviet republic. Belarus holds presidential elections every five years and this election is the first with a legitimate challenger to current president Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, and to understand this election you must understand the man characterized as “Europe’s last dictator” Alexander Lukashenko.
Alexander Lukashenko was born in 1954, in the town of Kopys, Belarusian SSR, Soviet Union. He would join the Soviet military in 1975, and would serve for two years as a border guard, and progressed to become the deputy political officer of the 120th Guards Rifle Division in Minsk. His political career began in 1990 when he was elected to the Deputy to the Supreme Council of Belarus, and he was known as a strong anti-corruption candidate. Lukashenko would serve in this position for four years, and would then run for president of Belarus in 1994. He won the election with 45% of the vote and became the first president of Belarus. The anti-corruption label was soon shed as in his first term he took control of the National Bank of Belarus after the Belarusian Ruble collapsed in 1998. His first term also ended with the creation of the Union State between Belarus and Russia, which allowed for Belarusian and Russian citizens to live and work freely across the two nations. Lukashenko has served as the president since and has won every election by large margins and even considered a run for the president of Russia in 2008. Every election since has been scrutinized heavily after allegations of fraud have rocked every cycle since 1994, and none more egregious than in 2020.
Politics in Belarus
The political system of Belarus consists of a house of representatives of 110 members and they vote every two years on members of parliament. Most politicians in Belarus run as independents, however some parties are represented in the Belarusian Parliament, Independents holds 89 seats, The Communist Party of Belarus holds 11 seats, The Republican Party of Labour and Justice holds 6 seats, Belarusian Patriotic Party holds 2 seats, The Liberal Democratic Party holds 1 seat, and The Belarusian Agrarian Party holds one seat. Although different political parties are represented all members of parliament are said to be “loyal” to Lukashenko, and the one opposition member was voted out in 2019, he was a member of the United Civic Party.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is the main opposition candidate to Alexander Lukashenko. Tsikhanouskaya was born in 1982 in Mikashevichy, Belarusian, SSR, Soviet Union. She works as an English teacher and interpreter, and is married to arrested YouTuber and activist Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who was originally running for president before his arrest. Tsikhanouskaya’s platform includes freeing all political prisoners in Belarus, moving away from the Union Pact with Russia, holding a new referendum on the original 1994 Constitution of Belarus, which limits presidential terms to two, and establish fair and democratic elections in Belarus. Tsikhanouskaya declared victory tonight, while the Belarusian Exit Polls (Take with an extreme grain of salt) show Lukashenko with a landslide victory.
Protests have erupted across the country, as the first exit polls were reported. Videos have been shared all over social media, however during the day the Belarusian Government had blocked internet access to most websites.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.