President Lukashenko is after nomenclature’s support
President Lukashenko will use the local elections to strengthen the nomenclature’s loyalty by giving them hope for greater influence in politics. The issue of creating the ‘Party of Power’ in Belarus has been raised from time to time, most often ahead of the national election campaigns. However, having such a party would be at odds with the current cult-of-personality system, which could only be transformed following a serious systemic crisis.
President Alexander Lukashenko, when appointing local executives, said that he was not against if a leading pro-governmental political party emerged in Belarus.
For a while now, President Lukashenko has been mulling over setting up the ‘Party of Power’, which would allow him to ensure loyalty of mid- and low-ranking officials. It is worth noting that in recent years, mid- and low level executive bodies have suffered from staff shortages and poor management, which, for example, resulted in derailed economic modernization plans.
Leaders of the ‘Belaya Rus’ quango do not hide their ambitions to transform the organization into a political party. As a rule, Lukashenko’s statements about the need to institutionalize the nomenclature’s interests coincide with national political campaigns or with the deepening socio-economic crisis.
President Lukashenko authorized the establishment of ‘Belaya Rus’ in 2004. The aim of its existence was to support him during the referendum to remove quantitative restrictions on presidential terms. Belaya Rus’ first HQs were in the Grodno region, considered as one of the most rebellious regions.
De facto, the issue of ‘Belaya Rus’’ transformation into a political party appears on the agenda each time before election campaigns start. However, as soon as the political cycle completes its round, the President gradually loses his interest in the ‘Party of Power’. In addition, the ‘Belaya Rus’ issue often coincides with Belarus resuming her Western policy.
Nevertheless, despite some signs of crisis in the governance, the ruling elite have full control over the situation in Belarus. President Lukashenko remains the most influential politician and his electoral rating remains at 34.8%.
Meanwhile, ‘Belaya Rus’ is not an institution which has a significant impact on people’s moods. According to IISEPS’ December poll, only 6.6% of the population would vote for Belaya Rus candidates, even fewer than for the ‘Tell the Truth!’ or ‘For Freedom’ movement candidates.
President Lukashenko will continue to delay the creation of the ‘Party of Power’ in Belarus, being careful not to delegate any authority to nomenclature or create any alternative sources of power. In times of crisis, President Lukashenko will rely on the use of force. However, ahead of the presidential campaign, the President will use various means to enhance the nomenclature’s loyalty, including populist rhetoric about the creation of the ‘Party of Power’.
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.