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  Byelorussian opposition has no chance to win parliamentary elections

Valentinas Mitë
2008 07 14

Parliamentary elections in Belarus will most probably take place on September 28, but nobody has any doubts that political forces loyal to A Lukashenka will win, since the opposition in the country is weak and polarised.

Presently there are two opposite, disagreeing blocks in the country. The first one is the union of joint democratic forces. It includes Belarus people’s front, Communist party which is in opposition to the authority, Movement for freedom led by A. Milinkevich and other political forces. The second block is the European coalition, separated from the union of the joint democratic forces. The coalition consists of a group of parties and movements in the process of establishment or not registered by the authorities.

Both blocks have already announced their electoral lists. There are no essential ideological differences between the blocks, but there is no lack of tactical disagreements and ambitiousness.

Former candidate to the country presidents position A. Milinkevich announced his non-participation in the elections; he will confine to observation of the elections and registration of violations. There is no lack of logics in such attitude, since it is obvious that A. Lukashenka will not allow A. Milinkevich to the parliament; and for a politician who is, most probably, going to participate in the presidential elections in 2011, it is not necessary to include a defeat in elections in his political biography.

There is a lot of circumstances unfavourable opposition, both created by the government and naturally formed.  Firstly, the majority vote system of elections is unfavourable for political parties, where parties have a secondary role, and theoretically “a man from the commons” may get to the parliament. But discrimination policy against opposition is being carried out in the country.

Representatives of the opposition are not allowed to participate in the election commissions; practically observation is not possible during the vote counting. Besides, in Belarus it is allowed to vote one week before the election date, when no observers are present at all. During this week vote about 30 per cent of the electorate.

Opposition does not have the same possibilities to use mass media as the authorities do. In several years tens of the opposition-friendly newspapers were closed or their distribution is refused. Formally, each candidate gets two or three minutes of radio or television time, but the rest time is for agitation against the opposition. Actually, a couple of weeks ago A.Lukashenka declared that he would not mind that several representatives of the opposition were in the parliament.

As independent sociological polls show, A.Lukashenka remains the most popular politician in the country. Belarus keeps successfully using the oil boom in Russia getting quite significant profits from the world prices increase. Will the number of A. Lukashenka supporting electorate go up after the New Year, after Russia has increased the crude oil prices, is not clear.

Though recently living standards of pensioners and of a part of cities population have improved, the Byelorussians often go for jobs in Russia where the standards are higher and the conditions for business are more favourable. On the other hand, A. Lukashenka, seeking to keep the existing standards of living, borrows a lot – Belarus owes not only to Russia, but to Germany, the Near East, China as well.

Well, and one more remark. Under the conditions of Belarus, A. Lukashenka is a strong politician.  Not every chairman of a kolkhoz would be able to hold the power for 14 years, standing several serious economy crisis, disdain from the West and partial blockade. But how long will that last for?

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