Prospects for leftist parties’ coalition in Belarus
On February 17th, a meeting of representatives from a number of left-wing parties and movements took place in Minsk.
Centrifugal processes continue developing inside the opposition, reflected in formation of different coalitions. Special feature of the newly forming leftist coalition is its promising ideological core - protection of workers’ rights - and the corresponding target group, which is poorly represented at the political level.
The event was attended by representatives of the Belarusian Green Party, the Belarusian Left Party “Fair World”, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Gramada), independent trade unions and informal media and youth projects. The meeting discussed the possibility of nominating a single candidate from the leftist forces in the 2015 presidential elections.
Despite of its ‘framework’ nature, the meeting of the Belarusian leftists was significant for several reasons. First, it was an attempt by a number of political actors to come together based on an ideological issue, and not based on resources or leaders’ personal connections. Second, participants positioned themselves primarily not against Lukashenko’s regime, but in relation to a particular social group, i.e. wage workers whose social rights should be protected from successive narrowing.
Such an “ideological” principle for coalition building is, at least, non-conventional. Other opposition coalitions today are built primarily on the basis of resources and personnel, as well as through boycotts or dialogue with the authorities. As a result, ideologically close counterparts find themselves on different sides of the political divide. For example, the UCP party and the organizing committee of BCD on the one hand, and the “Tell the Truth!” movement and BPF on the other hand, let alone the “European Belarus” campaign, which is controlled from abroad and is the most radical vis-à-vis the current government, and their colleagues in the opposition.
The potential leftist coalition’ success depends primarily on the resources and personal factors: whether the participants will be able to find the necessary human and financial resources for the local and presidential election campaigns, and whether they will develop loyalty, sufficient for long-term cooperation.
The financial crisis in Belarus in 2011 demonstrated that the left-wing parties and independent trade unions in Belarus were not able to mobilize employees, whose standards of living had fallen sharply. In 2012 they also had not increased their activities after the scandalous Decree No 9 took effect.
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.