Belarusian leadership strengthens role of parliament in rectifying unpopular government initiatives
The Belarusian leadership has allowed a critical discussion between the parliament and the government on unpopular initiatives. MPs with a critical view and established feedback from the population help to limit and rectify the government's most resonant actions to reduce social guarantees for the population. In all likelihood, the role of the parliament and the public activities of MPs would increase as the president takes a back seat in resolving current issues and identifying strategic priorities for the state.
Belarusian MPs have stood up for drivers and criticized the Government during the presentation of its activity report.
Amid reduced involvement of the president in the activity of the state apparatus, some prominent representatives of the power system have taken the initiative to resolve the most pressing issues in society. Apparently, some representatives of elected bodies, especially the parliament, are feeling an increased pressure from the population and pass people’s concerns to the government in order to cure the most unpopular initiatives, and to boost their popular ratings among the electorate.
Some parliamentarians and local deputies have continued to communicate with their voters after the elections. Most likely, they regard popular support as an additional asset in their career amid languishing state resources, staff cuts and enhanced competition in the public sector. In addition, some of them might have weaker positions and connections in the nomenclatural environment, which they try to offset with their popular ratings and influence on public opinion.
That said, it could not be ruled out that some of them (second and third level managers) count on the attention and support from the president, so as they do not pose a threat to his domination on the national level. In turn, President Lukashenka does not oppose to balancing out the influence of supporters of austerity measures from the government with MPs, who have a consistent feedback from the local population. For example, MP Politiko from Baranovichi (he has been elected twice already), has repeatedly (sometimes quite harshly) criticised the government on various issues; he has also proposed to revise the redistribution of the toll payments in favour of the local budgets.
Overall, the role of the parliament and some MPs in the power system has started to transform to offset the reduced public activity of the president and his non-involvement in resolving ongoing managerial issues and rectifying unpopular government initiatives.
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.