In what comes as no surprise, incumbent Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko won the presidential election with 80.3 percent of the vote Sunday, Bloomberg reported. Known as Europe’s “last dictator,” Lukashenko, 61, has ruled over the Eastern European state for over two decades.
The government-approved Eurasian Barometer Institute said Sunday that no runoff would be necessary. No independent election surveys are allowed in Belarus. The government said turnout in the election was 81.8 percent.
Speaking about himself ahead of the vote, Lukashenko said it would not bode well if he received fewer votes than in the last election in 2010, when he won with 79.65 percent.
“That would mean that people were beginning to move away and were dissatisfied with some of my policies,” he said when he cast his ballot in the capital of Minsk. “Therefore, for me it is very important: If Lukashenko wins, that I retain what was there in the past election.”
Although it was widely expected that Lukashenko would retain his grip on the nation of over 9 million, for the first time ever a woman ran against him. Tatiana Korotkevich, a pro-democracy candidate, challenged the president but fell short of a possible victory by receiving only 5.6 percent of the vote.
Media reports said approximately 200 people protested the election in Minsk carrying signs that read “dictatorship.” After the 2010 election, there was a violent police crackdown against protesters. Lukashenko’s crackdowns and repressive policies have earned him the nickname “Europe’s last dictator.”
As Belarus borders Russia and Ukraine, Lukashenko campaigned on the promise of bettering ties with the EU and the U.S. While Lukashenko has long been closely aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he expressed his opposition to a Russian plan to build a military base in Belarus last week ahead of the vote.
"We don't need a base at the moment ... I hear shrieks from the opposition about the deployment of a Russian air base. I don't know anything about it," Lukashenko said in a report released by the official state news agency, Belta.
Lukashenko has been in power since 1994, making him the longest-standing leader in all of Europe.