Belarusian parties prepare for Parliamentary elections
On 5 June, the 13th Congress of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Gramada) voted for the new leader, replacing A. Lyaukovich with the Head of the Grodno regional organization of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Gramada) Irina Veshtard. Voting results as follows: For - 77 Against - 1 Abstained - 7.
Belarus has made a second major step towards the “constructive opposition” of the parties that were not directly involved in the presidential campaign of 2010 and therefore suffered much less political losses. The probability is high that the BSDP (G) will express desire to participate in the Parliamentary elections and will not boycott them.
The BSDP (G) made a second attempt to change party leadership after failure to do so a year ago. Last year the Congress also voted for the new Chairman, Mr. Sidarevich to replace Mr. Lyaukovich however the Justice Ministry of Belarus found the decision of the Congress illegitimate. While confirmation from the Justice Ministry of the Congress results is pending, the new leadership of the BSDP (G) is refraining from any strategic statements about the party’s future plans.
However, there are grounds to assume that the party plans will be similar to the plans of the left-wing Belarusian Party “Fair World”, whose leader, S. Kalyakin has already announced his intention to participate in the Parliamentary elections at the Congress held on 29 May.
Unlike other Belarusian political parties (e.g. UCP and BPF), which after 19 December must resolve a difficult dilemma whether “to participate in the legitimating election campaigns prior to release of political prisoners or not”, the BSDP (G) does not face this dilemma explicitly.
Therefore, if the BSDP (G) follows the example of “Fair World” one might speak about the formation of a “constructive unit” within the Belarusian opposition, which is prepared for a domestic dialogue with th authorities thereby maintaining their domestic legitimacy.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.