Belarusian authorities test society for extending presidential term
Central Election Commission Chairman Lidziya Yarmoshyna said that the electoral system could be changed without a referendum. Extending the term of office of elected bodies in Belarus, including the president, is not yet a mainstream topic in a public debate. Except for the ‘Tell the Truth!’ campaign, opposition groups have ignored the LDPB initiative. Perhaps the proposal by the party leaders loyal to the authorities was an attempt to initiate a public debate about adding powers to the president and to test people’s response. Most likely, the Belarusian authorities are aware of the low support for such an initiative in society, but, nevertheless they would like to measure the degree of polarisation in society and the level of possible politicisation, should such an initiative be implemented.
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.