Authorities have full control over electoral process
According to the Central Election Commission, voter turnout during the local elections was 77.27 %, of which more than 32 % voted early.
Despite the reduction in state social guarantees in recent months, the authorities managed to retain full control over the electoral process and demonstrated high voter turnout. Given the declining public trust in local executive institutions, high voter turnout in local elections was supposed to demonstrate the population’s loyalty to the state’s socio-economic policy. Moreover, bearing in mind the upcoming presidential campaign, the authorities wanted to ‘test’ people’s reactions to the new conditions, when government has no funds to secure pay rises, as in previous years.
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.