Opposition fails to agree on single candidate for 2015 presidential election
Consultations among seven leading democratic organisations about holding the Congress of Democratic Forces (CDF) and electing a single opposition candidate have failed – two participants in the negotiations, the United Civic Party and the leftist "Fair World", have refused to sign a CDF agreement.
These two parties have refused to participate in the CDF process due to the low level of mutual trust between the opposition leaders; scarce resources for the presidential campaign; the lack of an overall strategy; and the lack of hope that democratic transformation will take place in Belarus during the presidential elections in 2015. Amid high support ratings of the incumbent president and the protracted crisis in Ukraine, opposition leaders primarily need to preserve their organisational structures and influence among the opposition. A repeat of the 2010 presidential campaign scenario is likely, with several opposition politicians running for president in an effort to promote and strengthen their organisations.
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.