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’.
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.