Belarusian opposition sidesteps post-election apathy and starts preparing for new election cycle

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October 03, 2016 11:16
www.minsknews.by

Putting aside the post-election apathy typical of the opposition, opposition parties started preparations for the next election campaign immediately after the parliamentary campaign The Central Election Commission, however, is reluctant to amend the Electoral Code in the near future. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities regard two representatives from the opposition in the supreme legislative body as sufficient concession to Western capitals until the next elections.

The Belarusian Central Election Commission has rejected as groundless two appeals to invalidate the parliamentary elections results.

The opposition has demonstrated good organisational skills, and immediately after the parliamentary elections has begun preparations for a new political campaign. The "Tell the Truth" campaign has submitted to the CEC proposals to improve the Electoral Code. The United Civic Party representative in the Parliament, Anna Konopatskaya, has already held two roundtables on electoral and economic issues and is planning to submit the amendments to the electoral law at the coming sessions.

Earlier, the CEC promised to consider changes to the electoral legislation immediately after the parliamentary elections. That said, the CEC head has given no encouragement to the initiative of the opposition parties regarding the improvements of the electoral code, and emphasised that the CEC played the main role in changing the legislation. In addition, she said that the amendments to the Code could be considered, if it was a joint initiative by all (or many) parties.

Apparently, the authorities are unlikely to consider amendments to the electoral legislation at the next session of the new parliament. The CEC head noted that the changes could be considered only after studying the OSCE/ODIHR final report on the results of the parliamentary elections in Belarus, which should be published in November.

On the one hand, Minsk would like to see the reaction of the West to novelties in the Belarusian political life and to the emergence of the opposition in the parliament, and on the other - to see the opposition’s commitment to work together in order to strengthen their positions.

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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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