Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as Europe's last dictator, was inaugurated for a fourth term as president in January 2011.
The announcement of the presidential election result in December 2010 was followed by violent confrontations in the capital Minsk between the security forces and thousands of opposition demonstrators protesting about alleged vote-rigging.
A former state farm director, Mr Lukashenko was first elected president in 1994, following his energetic performance as chairman of the parliamentary anti-corruption committee.
A 1996 referendum gave the president greatly increased powers at the expense of parliament and extended his term by two years. He won a further five years in office in 2001 presidential elections condemned as undemocratic by Western observers. Another referendum in October 2004 supported lifting the two-term limit on Mr Lukashenko's rule, allowing him to stand again in 2006 and 2010.
Over the years, several opposition politicians who might have provided leadership have disappeared or been imprisoned. Insulting the president, even in jest, carries a prison sentence.
The president remains defiant in the face of Western pressure for change. He has dismissed all possibility of revolutions such as those which brought an end to old-style regimes in Georgia and neighbouring Ukraine.
The government maintained its stranglehold on politics in the 2008 parliamentary elections, winning all seats.
The release in late 2008 of several opposition activists prompted a slight loosening of EU and US sanctions, and tentative talk of a thaw in relations with the West. However, this process was thrown into reverse after the 2010 presidential elections and has shown no sign of improvement since.
- Administrative divisions: This entry generally gives the numbers, designatory terms, and first-order administrative divisions as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Changes that have been reported but not yet acted on by BGN are noted.
- Capital city > Geographic coordinates: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.
- Capital city > Name: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.
- Constitution: The dates of adoption, revisions, and major amendments to a nation's constitution
- Country name > Conventional long form: This entry is derived from Government > Country name, which includes all forms of the country's name approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (Italy is used as an example): conventional long form (Italian Republic), conventional short form (Italy), local long form (Repubblica Italiana), local short form (Italia), former (Kingdom of Italy), as well as the abbreviation. Also see the Terminology note.
- Diplomatic representation from the US > Mailing address: This entry includes the chief of mission, embassy address, mailing address, telephone number, FAX number, branch office locations, consulate general locations, and consulate locations.
- Executive branch > Cabinet: Cabinet includes the official name for any body of high-ranking advisers roughly comparable to a U.S. Cabinet. Also notes the method for selection of members.
- Executive branch > Head of government: Head of government includes the name and title of the top administrative leader who is designated to manage the day-to-day activities of the government. For example, in the UK, the monarch is the chief of state, and the prime minister is the head of government. In the US, the president is both the chief of state and the head of government.
- Government type: A description of the basic form of government (e.g., republic, constitutional monarchy, federal republic, parliamentary democracy, military dictatorship).
- Judicial branch: The name(s) of the highest court(s) and a brief description of the selection process for members.
- Legal system: A brief description of the legal system's historical roots, role in government, and acceptance of International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.
- Legislative branch: This entry contains information on the structure (unicameral, bicameral, tricameral), formal name, number of seats, and term of office. Elections includes the nature of election process or accession to power, date of the last election, and date of the next election. Election results includes the percent of vote and/or number of seats held by each party in the last election.
- Political parties and leaders: Significant political organizations and their leaders.
- Political pressure groups and leaders: Organizations with leaders involved in politics, but not standing for legislative election.
- Suffrage: The age at enfranchisement and whether the right to vote is universal or restricted
"Belarus Government Stats", NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Belarus/Government
"Belarus Government Stats, NationMaster." 1944-2014. <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Belarus/Government>.
'Belarus Government Stats, NationMaster', <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Belarus/Government> [assessed 1944-2014]
"Belarus Government Stats", NationMaster [Internet]. 1944-2014. Avaliable from: <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Belarus/Government>.
"Belarus Government Stats", NationMaster. Avaliable at: nationmaster.com. Assessed 1944-2014.
"Belarus Government Stats, NationMaster," http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Belarus/Government (assessed 1944-2014)
"Belarus Government Stats", NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Belarus/Government (last visited 1944-2014)
"Belarus Government Stats", NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Belarus/Government (as of 1944-2014)