Belarusian authorities reanimate partisan development discussions and abandon populism
The Belarusian authorities appear to be willing to further strengthen the political parties and civil society organizations, including changes in the legal framework for their operations. However, only loyal political parties and those oppositional organizations ready for a dialogue with the authorities within the existing political system may benefit from a somewhat improved legal framework. The Belarusian leadership shuns the usual pre-election rhetoric and is attempting to distract attention from socio-economic issues.
Apparently, due to somewhat reduced support for the president, the Belarusian leadership has responded to population demand regarding the development of power institutions other than the presidential power and improving the representation of interests of different social groups. The Justice Ministry has put up a bill amending the law on political parties for a public discussion. The bill, inter alia, envisages the simplification of political parties’ registration procedure and operation rules, however, tightens financial operations rules for political and public organizations.
Overall, during the elections of 2019/2020, the Belarusian leadership appears to be more open and interested in feedback from the population to relax tension in society. “Belarus’ Legal Forum” has been designated as a major electronic platform for public discussions of envisaged legislative amendments.
In addition, amid looming elections, the Belarusian leadership is avoiding populist rhetoric. The authorities emphasize the State's intention to further curtail social protection due to languishing public funds. For instance, the head of the upper parliament chamber, Mikhail Myasnikovich announced cuts in public spending on capital repairs in the housing sector and shifting this burden onto citizens.
Furthermore, the Belarusian authorities are attempting to divert attention from socio-economic issues and the lack of improvements in people’s well-being, by focusing on international issues, defense capabilities, sovereignty and independence, Russo-Belarusian disputes and festive events (e.g. the "Slavic Bazaar").
To some extent, the Belarusian leadership is likely to meet public demand and gradually enable the strengthening of loyal political parties in the power system, including greater representation of political parties in the new parliament after the 2019 elections.