Candidates’ nomination to the Council of the Republic
On September 5th, candidates for the Council of the Republic have been registered during the CEC meeting. Candidates’ lists and the lack of even pro forma competition among them emphasize the closed nature of the Belarusian political system. Elections to the lower house of the Parliament reflect the interest of nomenklatura and security forces to increase their political influence, but two-thirds of senators to become members of the Council of the Republic will have no political dividends.
Elections to the Parliament’s upper house will be held from 6 to 25 September.
Because of its closed nature and little political weight, the Council of the Republic can be considered a Belarusian nomenklature’s elite club. It is a matter of prestige to become a member of this ‘club’. However, only few gain the political capital in the Council of the Republic: in this sense it loses even to the House of Representatives. If HR deputies have at least the minimum of recognition at the grassroots level, the membership in the CR does not imply an active public position. It is rather a platform for lobbying corporate interests. Future CR will consist of directors to at least 50%. Besides, CR membership is usually a one-time by nature. From 56 current senators only 16 will become members of the new CR.
The main feature of these elections is that from all the regional executive committees’ chairmen, the Grodno region head, Semion Shapiro was the only one who has not been nominated to the CR. All Chairmen of Regional Executive Committees are automatic CR members by status. Perhaps Shapiro will be nominated by the President. However the fact that the chairman of the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee fell out, may indicate weakening of his positions. Generally, CR candidates have low recognition in the regions. The only exceptions are university professors and heads of local hospitals: for them CR membership is social work.
For the majority of senators (directors at most part), work for CR is optional. Their usual duties, which they have to fulfill while working in the Parliament, will hardly allow them to concentrate on their functions as legislature. Their duties in the CR are reduced to the formal approval of decisions already taken.
Thus, the nomination campaign for the Council of the Republic illustrates the situation which has developed in the highest echelons of the legislative power: CR reduces to a purely decorative structure, which has no noticeable effect on the development and adoption of important decisions for the country.
Council of the Republic (the upper chamber) is formed on the following principle: local Councils of Deputies nominate 8 candidates from each of the provinces and the city of Minsk. These candidates are approved by secret ballot. Eight remaining deputies are appointed personally by the President.