Belarus' Central Election Commission head on local elections 2018

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Belarus' Central Election Commission head on local elections 2018

In Belarus, the local elections campaign has reached its final stage, with the election day scheduled for February 18.

Over the next four weeks, each candidate will have to convince voters to vote for them. The CTV Channel spoke to the head of the Central Election Commission Lidia Yermoshina about the course of the campaign.

Please draw a portrait of a candidate for a seat in a local council. Is this a woman?

Lidia Yermoshina:
I would not say that. The average portrain is really female, but this is because councils at the very bottom level - I mean rural and small district councils - really have more women than men.

If we talk about councils of a higher level, more prestigious, where there is more competition, where there is more choice, which represent far more voters - more than 20,000, for example (Minsk City Council), then, I would say, we see more men than women. Women make up no more than 20%, at the moment 26.7%. That is less than one third.

But their share is growing?

Lidia Yermoshina:
It is growing a little. And it will grow. But I would not be happy about it, honestly.

I remember your comments on the women who, as you said, must cook soup at home rather than get involved in politics.

Lidia Yermoshina:
No, soups have nothing to do with it. If the share of women in representative bodies is growing, then not because it stimulates them. This is happening because fewer men now want to compete.

Do you really think so?

Lidia Yermoshina:
I think yes. I think men are less willing to take responsibility, and responsibility is heavy and not paid.

Perhaps they are saving energy for the upcoming parliamentary campaign?

Lidia Yermoshina:
Everything can be. But the parliament has only 110 deputies, while local councils comprise 18,111 constituencies. So many seats!

Youth is now becoming more active, don't you think? Do you find their flashmobs and other such things rational?

Lidia Yermoshina:
In general, I think that everything that works for the benefit of elections is always rational. I very much want young people to finally turn their faces to the elections. For now youth sees politics as something that is the business of dull old people.

What needs to be done?

Lidia Yermoshina:
I think we need informal work and young candidates. It seems to me that young people do not go to the polls much because they consider candidates old people.

In Minsk, every seventh young man is under the age of 30.

Lidia Yermoshina:
In Minsk there are more.

In capitals, political life is always more interesting. It is not a feature of Belarus, is it?

Lidia Yermoshina:
We have a small town called Baran.  There is also competition there, not just one candidate without an alternative.

I can say that the Mogilev region is always working for competition. The authorities work differently on the ground. The Mogilev authorities consider it a matter of honor, and even if there is no opposition there, it promotes the nomination of two pro-government candidates, not just one. It's normal when people have a choice.

Some local councils work according to the principle: "if there is no competitor, well, we will not do anything." This is a wrong approach.

Are local elections a kind of criterion for assessing regional authorities?

Lidia Yermoshina:
Absolutely.

What would you advice ordinary voters in the coming month?

Lidia Yermoshina:
I advise voters to go and vote in the elections. Do not listen to anyone. Even if it's cold in February, don't be afraid of colds and definitely come to your polling station and vote.