Certain to win the right to stay in power: Belarusian president Aleksander Lukashenko has been voting in a referendum which would allow him to stand for a third term. He has been in power since 1994 after he pledged to end corruption and restore communist-era certainties.
Described as Europe’s last hardline leader in the West, Lukashenko already used referendums in 1996 to prolong his stay in power a first time. Those and subsequent elections have been denounced as fraudulent by the opposition and the West, which has sent 300 observers to oversee today’s vote. There seems little doubt over the outcome of the referendum – despite his authoritarian rule, Lukashenko remains broadly popular in his country, especially in rural areas. The opposition, weakened by a series of crackdowns, has modest goals – to expose irregularities, raise public awareness and, perhaps, gain a small slice of power in parliament.