Bargaining for political reform in Belarus continues
On May 8 while delivering the State of the Nation Address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly, the President said that the draft project for the introduction of the proportional majority electoral system had been prepared long ago. He pointed out that he personally did not approve of the reform but would not object to following the “world’s experience” on the subject.
President Lukashenko is fully aware that the Belarusian governing establishment and Western political counterparts of the Republic of Belarus are very much concerned with the transition to a proportional electoral system in the upcoming parliamentary election. Within the Republic of Belarus, the issue presents interest for the officials and deputies, representing the QUANGO \"Belaya Rus\". They have repeatedly expressed their willingness to be transformed into a political party.
Therefore, in 2011-2012 before elections to the National Assembly, Alexander Lukashenko regularly turns to the subject that allows him to bargain with regional and local elites over the formation of the parliament, as well as issues of regional governing. At the same time, his promise to possibly reform the political system also allows to maintain a standby dialogue with the EU.
However, the electoral reform which is expected to increase the role of political parties in shaping the external and internal policy of Belarus, does not comply with Lukashenko’s personal interests.
Therefore, the head of the state is actively promoting the Investigation Committee established in 2012 as an alternative platform which can be used to balance the interests within the state.
Nominally, the Investigation Committee is a law enforcement agency which is entitled to conduct a preliminary investigation. But it, in fact, must perform a more significant managerial role: to function as an arbiter in disputes arising between the elites. Therefore, in his State of the Nation Address, the president mentioned the positive role of the Investigation Committee in the fight against corruption and \"racketeering\" business by other law enforcement agencies.
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.