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.
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.