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.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.