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 could to step up the opposition representation in local councils, should party members demonstrate potency. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to have the resources to ensure 100 percent pro-government candidates in the local elections. The authorities have exhausted the grassroot support and have no funds to pay for the loyalty.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has proposed to hold the elections to the local Councils of Deputies on February 18th, 2018.
The president has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the local councils in the power system and the state machine always tried to ensure the necessary local election results. Candidates have been decreasing in number with each elections and the authorities dealt with that by reducing the deputy corps. That said, during the rule of President Lukashenka, his electoral base has changed substantially. Over the past decade, most Belarusians have moved to cities and lost their local roots. The rural population is ready to support the president, but rural residents are constantly decreasing in number.
The Belarusian leadership is likely to permit broad participation in the election campaign and an increase in alternative representatives in the local councils. However, the opposition would have to boost its activity, so as so far it has been passive in defending its interests. In addition, the authorities, while determining the date for the local elections, have taken into account the fact that the opposition is usually the least active in the winter time.
Overall, both, the opposition and the local authorities have exhausted their grassroot support, however new local leaders may still come on political stage, although the party opposition has not yet shown sufficient aspirations.