Upcoming parliamentary elections
On 21 April the President Lukashenko delivered his annual address to the National Assembly and the Belarusian people. Among other issues, the Head of state said, Belarus would not change the election system to proportional before the Parliamentary elections in 2012.
The explicit statement about the Belarusian electoral system should be interpreted unambiguously: the next parliamentary elections will be held in the traditional majoritarian format.
In the course of the past six months and particularly after the December appointment of Mr. Radzkou as the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, experts and nomenclature had lively discussions about the possibility of creation of a large political party in Belarus for Lukashenko or his likely successor. There were high chances that the Republican Public Association “Belaya Rus”, headed by Mr. Radkov, a former Education Minister and a proxy of Alexander Lukashenko during the presidential election in 2010, would be used as a base for the party.
If this movement was converted into a party, the structure of the “Belaya Rus” (110,000 members as of today), its members (nomenclature, Deputies, businesses closely linked with the government), as well as tangible governmental support would create indisputably favourable conditions for the party to gain the majority in the Parliament, and the monopolized state media would ensure a powerful channel for manipulation of the public opinion.
Transition to the proportional electoral system will require amendments of the Electoral Code, as well as of the Belarusian Constitution. Article 72 of the Constitution provides for the revocation of an individual MP, impossible in case of voting on party lists. The President has the right to initiate constitutional amendments by submitting a proposal to the Parliament. Experts of the portal “Our Opinion” (http://nmnby.eu/) believe, the implementation of the initiative will take 5 to 9 months, i.e. it could still be put into action prior to the election campaign in 2012.
It is obvious that Lukashenko is in no hurry to change the electoral rules and is not ready to share power with his supporters and associates.
The history of the development of the political system in Belarus shows, the political (presidential) power is traditionally distanced from the political parties. The most recent example is the withdrawal of the loyal to the President Liberal Democratic Party and its leader Mr. Gaidukevich from the Parliamentary elections in 2008 and from the presidential race of 2010.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.