According to the constitution adopted on March 15, 1994 (revised several times), Belarus is a presidential republic. The head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces is the president, who is directly elected for a period of 5 years (one-time re-election possible). If none of the candidates receives an absolute majority in the first ballot, a runoff vote between the two most successful applicants is required in the second. A minimum participation of 50% is planned for both ballots.
Regardless of these regulations, President A. Lukashenka , who has been in office since 1994, had his term of office extended to 2001 on the occasion of the constitution-amending referendum (confirmed in office for a further 5 years in 2001). The controversial plebiscite of 2004 enabled him to run again in 2006 and 2010.
The President, who has extensive powers, determines the guidelines of politics, is the holder of the emergency power and extensive factual and personal decision-making powers, has extensive right to issue ordinances (decrees with the force of law) and the right of initiative and veto in the legislative process. The Council of Ministers chaired by the Prime Minister (since 2018 Sergei Rumas, * 1969), whose members are appointed and dismissed by him. If the Chamber of Representatives refuses to approve the appointment of the Prime Minister and his government program twice, the President can appoint a head of government and dissolve Parliament. The president can only be removed from office for high treason or a serious crime in a very complex parliamentary indictment.
The legislature has been with the bicameral parliament since 1996 (National Assembly; legislative period: 4 years), consisting of a Chamber of Representatives (110 members to be appointed according to the system of absolute majority voting; active voting rights from the age of 18, passive from the age of 21) and the Council of the Republic (64 members, including 56 elected by the regional parliaments and 8 appointed by the president). The laws to be passed by the Chamber of Representatives require the approval of the Council of the Republic. A presidential veto can only be overruled with a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
In the election for the Chamber of Representatives on September 11, 2016, the President’s camp won over 90 of the 110 seats. In August 2018, A. Lukashenka replaced the head of his government and appointed S. Rumas Prime Minister.
In the foreign policy is Russia ‘s most important partner. In 1999 Belarus signed a union treaty with Russia, on which it is dependent for oil and gas supplies. On January 1st, 2015, the Eurasian Economic Union was founded together with Russia and Kazakhstan. Armenia also joined the Union in 2014 and Kyrgyzstan in 2015. By releasing political prisoners in August 2015, Lukashenka tried to establish relations with the European Union to improve and alleviate the one-sided dependence on Russia. The EU then lifted travel and property bans against Belarusian citizens. Belarus is the only European country not represented in the Council of Europe.
According to Topschoolsintheusa, there is an eleven-year general schooling requirement from the age of 6. The education system is based on the general secondary school, which comprises three levels: Grades 5 to 10 of lower secondary level follow the four-year primary education. The successful final examination entitles to attend the two-year upper secondary level of the general secondary school (in addition high schools or lyceums with technical specialization) or to acquire a professional qualification (training in technical schools or colleges).
There are over 40 public and several private colleges and academies, including but not limited to the National University of Belarus (founded in 1921) in Minsk and the universities in Brest, Gomel, Grodno, Polotsk and Vitebsk. Private universities must comply with the state guidelines. The private European Humanistic University in Minsk was closed for political reasons in 2004 and reopened in Vilnius (Lithuania) in 2005.
Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are suppressed in Belarus. Most of the media are state owned or controlled. The internet is also monitored and censored.
Press: By far the largest daily newspaper is »Belarus Sevodnja« in Russian, published by the presidential administration. The regional editions of the Russian newspapers “Komsomolskaya Pravda” and “Argumenty i Fakty” are also widespread. The weekly newspaper »BelGaseta« (Russian) is independent. “Narodnaja Wolja” (Belarusian / Russian) and “Nascha Niwa” (Belarusian) are close to the political opposition; they appear twice or once a week.
News agencies are BelTA (state) and BelaPAN (independent).
Broadcasting: The state broadcasting company BTRK operates five radio stations and six television stations, including a cultural, a sports and a foreign channel (»Belarus 24«). The state is the majority owner of the ONT television station (two channels). The major Russian television stations are also received. The independent »Belsat TV« broadcasts from Poland.