The Federation of Trade Unions and the "Belaya Rus" will be the main competitors in the parliamentary campaign
On 9 July, 110 district election commissions which will operate during the Parliamentary election campaign in September were set up.
The formation of district election commissions went according to plan with no sign that the upcoming election campaign will differ significantly from the 2008 campaign. A much greater influence on election outcome is exerted by local election commissions, which will be formed in early August.
According to the estimates of Belarusian human rights activists, minor progress has been observed at this stage of the campaign: in 2012 the proportion of the opposition in district election commissions rose to 3.3% versus 2.2% in 2008. This could be explained by the increased activity of opposition parties which have nominated 199 representatives against 118 in district commissions in 2008.
However, pro-governmental public organizations remain the most active and successful ones in nominating their representatives. Thus, the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus has nominated 279 members, 206 of which were included in the commissions (or 14.4% of the composition of all commissions.) The public association \"Belaya Rus\" has nominated 110 members (106 of them included, or 7.4%), the Belarusian Republican Youth Union has nominated 108 members (86 on, or 6%).
As a result, namely these three organizations are leaders in terms of representation of their members in district election commissions.
It can be concluded from this fact that the main struggle for influence in the campaign will take place between the Federation of Trade Unions and the \"White Russia\", which have repeatedly stated about their desire to play a more important role in the government policy of Belarus (specially on political plans of the \"Belaya Rus\", see the previous issue of monitoring).
In this case, the formation of local election commissions, to be completed by 8 August 8, will become the next step in this confrontation. Traditionally, the outcome of elections in Belarus is determined to not by district, but by local election commissions, which are directly involved in vote count and report the results to the district. Therefore, a more accurate prediction of the likely outcome of the campaign can be made after 8 August.
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.