2012 Elections: the opposition is as split as ever
On March 6, “Fair World” party announced that it will participate in the Parliamentary elections in the autumn 2012.
Following the statement by the “Fair World” party the opposition forces could be divided into at least four groups with different approaches to the participation in the campaign:
1. Active boycott of the nomination of candidates and their removal from the race right before the voting (UCP).
2. Full participation in the election campaign (“Fair World” party).
3. Boycott of the elections and organization of monitoring of violations (not registered Belarusian Christian Democracy party, not registered movement “Belaruski rukh” and the organizing committee of the People’s Assembly).
4. Unclear position of holding consultations with the “civil society” about the format of participation in the campaign (the remaining part of the so-called “Coalition of the six”: Belarusian Popular Front Party, “Tell the Truth!” civil campaign, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) and the “For Freedom” movement).
The fact that there are so many political actors with different interests 4 months prior to the start of the campaign, implies, most likely, that the opposition will fail to come up with a unified strategy.
Moreover, it is very likely that the split among the political opposition will continue and they will pursue own interests on a wider scale: be it organization of election monitoring or election of a new parliament.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.