Belarusian democratic community is disappointed in opposition
Last week, social media users and newspaper readers had a broad discussion of two articles (first, second), which accused opposition politicians of failing to reach an agreement on joint participation in the parliamentary election campaign. People were disappointed in the opposition because they believed that the later could only win if it had united. Apparently, the democratic community in Belarus links the victory of democracy in Belarus only with the democratic opposition.
On May 3rd, democratic organisations held consultations during which they had failed to reach an agreement about forming a single list of opposition candidates for the parliamentary elections scheduled for September 11th, 2016. The following organisations participated in the consultations, which were intended as a tool for regular coordination among democratic organizations: the United Civil Party, the Belarusian Popular Front, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada), Fair World Belarusian Leftist Party, For Freedom, European Belarus, solidarity movement Razam, independent trade union RAP, Belarusian Christian Democracy, the Belarusian Social Democratic party (Narodnaya Hramada), Belaruski Rukh, the Workers’ Party, the Party of Women Nadzeya, and the Party of Freedom and Progress.
Two of the largest independent online media TUT.by and Belarusian News have published sharply critical articles in response to the reluctance of democratic organizations to act jointly in the parliamentary elections. For instance, Alexander Feduta, said the opposition leaders had become professional beggars, who neglected the interests of democratic voters. In Feduta’s view, voters were interested in a single opposition candidate, and the opposition’s only success in the past 20 years was during the 2001 elections, when under the pressure of the OSCE AMG head a single opposition candidate was nominated.
Political analyst Artyom Shrayban took a similar positon in his article for TUT.BY. He marked that the elections would be held under new rules, requiring a simple majority vote, regardless of the turnout. In his view, the fact that the opposition had split, and would not run a single campaign would create the opportunity for the authorities to win without fraud. Shrayban quoted opposition trust rating chart by IISEPS, which showed that the rating had not risen above 20% since 2011.
Both articles have been praised by social media users. Democratically minded electorate, when pondering about why Belarus had failed a democratic transition, has accused the opposition, which was unable to unite. That said, in 2015, people accused the only oppositional presidential candidate Tatsiana Karatkevich and Tell the Truth of splitting the democratic camp.
Yet the democratically minded electorate is not prepared to take at least some responsibility for political processes, i.e. accept the fact that there are too few of them to ensure the victory for a single candidate or to put an ultimatum to the authorities, and that whether united or not, the opposition would be unable to improve the situation.
In the 2015 presidential elections, two political parties - the United Civil Party and Fair World – failed to collect the required number of signatures for their leaders. Political parties in Belarus may marginalise completely and fall out of the legal political process, which is why they have decided to fully participate in the parliamentary elections in 2016 for the first time the last eight years.
Political leaders and opinion leaders have a different view on current political situation in Belarus: political parties are afraid to lose the ability to play within the legal field completely, while opinion leaders have an optimistic view on the opposition capacities.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.