Administrative Reform Creates New Opportunities for Opposition
Chairman of the Central Election Commission Ms. Ermoshina said, that village Council of Deputies could be abolished in Belarus.
Administrative reforms will elevate the role of local authorities within the Belarusian power structure. Due to fewer candidates for the 2014 local elections, local elections will carry more weight. Consequently, the structural role of political forces that take part in these elections will also increase.
Administrative filed reform should be regarded as part of the reforms initiated in the Belarus’ state apparatus. The Central Election Commission’s main argument in favor of the abolition of the village Soviets is to save about 30% of the funds allocated for the local elections campaign.
So far, these proposals are under discussion, but the scale of reforms is essential, and has already been called “revolutionary”. In 2010, 1495 local Councils were formed in Belarus, of which 1288 – village Councils. 15 329 Deputies were elected to the village Councils. By scrapping these local authorities, the government hopes to save money allocated for the election campaign, as well as for maintenance of local governments in the period between elections.
In political terms, the administrative reform, if implemented, will have several effects. First, the competition for the seats in the Deputy Councils of higher level (regional, city and district) will increase. Second, the administrative weight of the remaining local Deputies is bound to increase due to the assumption of functions previously performed by village Deputies.
As a result, the government will be forced to tighten control over the electoral process, and in particular, making sure that political opponents do not win seats in the new Councils. In turn, the increased attention by the authorities to all the participants of the upcoming campaign will enable the opposition to become more active in the political arena starting early 2013. It is anticipated, that the campaign will be launched in December 2013.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.