Opposition coalitions form according to core-periphery model
On May 20th, in Minsk, the opposition coalition, so-called “Trio” - the BPF, “For Freedom” Movement and “Tell the Truth!” - announced the launch of a joint ‘Popular Referendum’ campaign.
Important opposition group has launched a long-term strategy for joint action. Inside the Belarusian opposition two coalitions continue shaping up - the “rightist” and “leftist”. Simultaneously, political periphery forms from various parties and groups within Belarus and abroad.
The “Trio” management emphasized the informal nature of their coalition, implying they created a platform for coordination of joint political action, rather than merging parties and programmes. The coalition’s peculiarity is its long-term cooperation. Participants plan to cooperate in the next three political campaigns: 2013-2014 local elections, 2015 presidential elections and 2016 parliamentary elections.
Content wise, the “National Referendum” is still uncertain. During summer, its initiators plan to tour 30 Belarusian cities to meet with the electorate and to formulate the most pressing social and political issues. Then, during the local elections, they will launch a petition campaign for a referendum on issues identified after consultations with citizens and experts. The collected signatures will be used to put pressure on the government to speed up political transformations. Coalition members do not rule out the potential nomination of a coalition’s single candidate for the presidential elections.
Thus, currently, at least two coalitions form within the Belarusian opposition: so-called “rightist” (“Trio”) and so-called “leftist” (Leftist Platform). The “Trio” coalition seems to have better coordination, as it has already presented a coherent approach to foreign and domestic policies (in its recent statement “Greater Europe for Belarus”).
Finally, there is a variety of political parties and organizations outside the coalition process. Firstly, the United Civic Party, which single-handedly promotes its “primaries” project (the principle of defining a single candidate in the presidential elections), and secondly, a number of non-registered organizations in Belarus and in exile, which, with varying degrees of radicalism call for the elections’ and regime’s boycott.
The latter include the Belarusian Christian Democracy Organizing Committee (Mr. Rymashevski), European Belarus campaign (Mr. Sannikov). As anticipated, they negatively reacted to the “Trio’s” initiative. In particular, Sannikov accused the “Trio” members of an attempt to legitimize the dictatorship, Rymashevski called the project ‘hazy’, Belarusian Social Democratic Gromada Chairman Shushkevich called “Trio’s” initiative a nonsense, and CCP BPF Chairman Pozniak – ‘a joke’. Alternatively, the media welcomed the “Trio’s” idea.
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.