Belarusian authorities manage people’s expectations in anticipation of upcoming electoral campaign
The Belarusian authorities are preparing for the autumn-winter electoral campaign through organising political, economic and power headquarters. Amid trending economic recovery, President Lukashenka has reassumed responsibility for the social and economic development. In coming months, the president is likely to resume the populist rhetoric to boost ratings of public institutions.
The president has resumed periodic meetings on topical issues. Amid economic recovery, his likely aim is to boost ratings of public institutions, and his popular rating in particular. During the economic downturn, the president refrained from holding such events and avoided important decisions on the immediate domestic agenda.
Yet the authorities have not finally decided on the central theme of the 2017/2018 electoral campaign; their likely choice is between the economic agenda (as a priority) and security issues. The president has set populist tasks before the government, such as ensuring wage growth, 100% employment, equitable distribution of incomes and minimal property stratification in society, retain housing construction volumes at reduced costs, price regulation and control over inflation.
The authorities are particularly targeting rural areas, where the support for the authorities, electoral mobilisation and turnout are traditionally high. De facto, the president has confirmed additional state funding for the agro-industrial complex (dairy farms, flax production, production of combined harvesters, etc). In addition, the president is attempting to form positive expectations of welfare growth among education and culture workers, who make most members of election commissions.
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.