Belarus is a presidential republic. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how BY can stand for Belarus. The 1994 constitution
has been changed by referendums in 1995, 1996 and 2004,
which have extended the powers of attorney to the president.
By the Constitution, Belarus is an independent, unified
state and democratic republic. The supreme executive power
is added to the president, who is also the head of state.
This is elected in the general election for five years.
Parliament, Natsyanalny skhod, has two chambers, a
House of Representatives (Palata pradstaw nikaw)
with 110 members, elected in the general elections for four
years, and a Republican Council (Savjet
respubliki) with 64 members - 56 elected from the
regions and eight appointed by the president. The voting age
is 18 years.
Aljaksandr Lukashenka, who was elected president in 1994,
has ruled the country with increasing powers. Following the
1995 and 1996 referendums, the Constitution was amended to
strengthen the presidential office. In practice, the
legislative and judicial powers were subject to the
executive. The President governs the country by decrees that
have the status of law. The 2004 referendum officially gave
a large majority to repeal the constitutional provision that
limited the president's term of office.
In the 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections, candidates
supporting President Lukashenka occupied all 110 seats in
the House of Representatives. OSCE and EU observers have
criticized the elections as unfair, with widespread
electoral fraud and significant formal obstacles to
The Council of Europe, of which Belarus is not a member,
has also condemned the country for widespread human rights
violations. Belarus is the only country in Europe where the
death penalty is still practiced. This has been criticized
several times by the EU, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and
a number of countries, including Norway.
Administratively, the country is divided into the
metropolitan area and six regions (voblast), and
these are again divided into 118 districts (rajon)
with elected councils.
The judiciary is formally independent, but the judges in
the Supreme Court are appointed by the president. There is a
separate constitutional court, where the president and the
House of Representatives each appoint half of the 12 judges.