A new development stage in the left forces’ coalition
On April 17th in Minsk, “Green” Party, “Fair World” Belarusian Left Party and the organizing committee of the Belarusian Labour Party leaders held a joint press conference.
So far, the political coalition between the leftist parties is limited to the creation of an informal ideological leftist platform. However, there is some progress in the building up of a coalition, which is evidenced by joint public appearances of the left-wing parties’ leaders.
The leftist platform was created on April 12th, at a joint meeting of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada), Belarusian Left Party “Fair World”, “Green” Party and the organizing committee of the Belarusian Labour Party. This platform is not a formal political bloc, rather a framework for joint actions by ideologically close forces.
The ‘Platform’ declared a joint action to be held on May 1st, as well as the creation of a leftist information web portal. Organizers said the platform would not have a formal leader. However, on April 17th, during the press conference they did not rule out the nomination of a single leftist candidate for the 2015 presidential elections.
Inside the Belarusian opposition, coalitions form due to both, the political momentum (upcoming local and presidential elections) and the lack of human and financial resources which the opposition parties and movements could contribute individually. The most explicit distinctive feature of the Platform is that it is ideologically orienting towards the promotion of social-democratic values and workers’ rights’ protection.
Political capacities of the new leftist platform (as well as the ‘trio’s’ BPF, For Freedom and Tell the Truth and other opposition groups and individual players) will be tested soon – during the local elections in 2014. The 2012 Parliamentary campaign has demonstrated that the opposition is more prone to scattered actions, rather than preserving coalitions before, during and after the elections.
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.