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Belarusian authorities to reduce competition for parliamentary seats to preserve control over election process

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August 17, 2016 10:56
Image: Yahieni Jerchak, TUT.BY

The Belarusian authorities are content with the high competition for the seats in the parliament so as it bridges the split in the Belarusian society and cuts supporters of radical changes. However, the Belarusian authorities are afraid to lose control over the electoral process in the case there are numerous candidates. The authorities are likely to filter out some oppositional and pro-governmental candidates from political parties and nomenclature.

The Belarusian authorities have sufficient legal instruments not to register most prominent and controversial nominees from the opposition on formal grounds. For instance, the authorities have warned several potential oppositional candidates during the signature collection stage, which could be a valid reason for their non-registration. In addition, late into the candidates’ nomination stage, Central Electoral Commission head Yarmoshina complained about some potential candidates, such as Ales Lahvinets from For Freedom movement and Andrey Dmitriev from Tell the Truth campaign, for being too active. Nevertheless, the brightest potential candidates are unlikely to be tossed out at the registration stage.

As usual, President Lukashenka warned business against interfering with the electoral process and noted that efforts to finance candidates’ campaigns would be futile. It should be noted, however, that unlike in previous years, the president’s rhetoric in respect of business was relatively mild and did not contain any direct threats.

The Belarusian authorities have created a large reserve of loyal candidates from political parties and public institutions, which could be tossed out. In some districts, several nomenclatural candidates or nominees from pro-government parties have applied for the registration as candidates. Apparently, potential candidates have exceeded in number the authorities’ capacity to control the election process.  The election organisers therefore are likely to filter out a lion’s share of applicants to an acceptable level.

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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.

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