CEC completed initial parliamentary selection
The Central Election Commission tried to limit the competition already at the first stage of the election process. Competitiveness has been reduced at the cost of high percentage of registration denials to the opposition candidates. This means that at a later stage the authorities can be a little softer and the observers will be able to note some progress.
The CEC registered 362 candidates out of 494 nominated for the House of Representatives elections to be held on September 23rd.
The highest number in registration denials was among those who were nominated through the signatures collection, and thus already started campaigning in their regions. In particular, there was a significant screening among nominees from “Tell the Truth!” and “For Freedom” movements, which could be associated with their intention to go to the end of the election campaign. From the authorities’ point of view, this could create some problems, both during the campaign and during the votes counting.
On the contrary, most of the parliamentary elections’ boycott supporters (in one way or another) were successfully registered as candidates. Thus, 35 candidates of 48 runners up have been registered in the United Civil Party and 30 of 33 in the Belarusian Popular Front.
The registration stage finished with the formation of at least 3 uncontested constituencies, where the only candidates were powerful officials. In particular, Vileika, Baranavichy and Zaslavsky districts reported only one candidate registered: Rusakov (KGB Chief Directorate for economic security Head , Yazubets (Baranovichi Executive Committee Chairman) and Myakinnik (Petrishki Rural Executive Committee Chairman) respectively.
Parliament’s recognition by the international observers has never been and is not the goal of the authorities: legitimate Parliament would threaten the existing political system stability and President’s unilateral domination. Parliament should be fully controlled, and Deputy’s chair should be a promotion for loyalty.
Therefore, the election campaign should ensure the following: a) parliaments’ full accountability, b) awarding the ‘loyal’, c) citizens’ mobilization to vote, however without their active involvement in the election process, i.e. to ritualize the election process, d) recognition of the ‘progress’ achieved in the elections’ organization by international observers. Authorities’ actions, such as cutting off the most active candidates, keeping uncontested constituencies for ‘official representatives’, controlled competition, were meant to meet these challenges.
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.