Formally, the presidential campaign in Belarus is in full swing. But in fact, after the refusal of the main favorites of the opposition in the registration of candidates, it lost the intrigue, Vladimir Dorokhov.
Usually just after the registration of presidential candidates, the election campaign becomes really interesting. In the case of Belarus, it after the Central election Commission on July 14 was not registered leading opposition candidates – former banker Victor Babariko and former head of the high technologies Park (HTP), Valery Tsepkalo – lost all intrigue.
Looks like there’s another “elegant victory” of incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko has been ruling the country for over a quarter century. There is little doubt that he will be able to retain power, the question is, how long then Lukashenka will stay in the presidential chair.
Unexpected challengers and pandemic
The Belarusian elections-2020 produces a strange impression. It arises from a combination of the hard power of techniques and approaches that were used by the authorities before, with a lot of innovations from the camp of alternative candidates – there are entirely new faces, a wide use of modern technologies and the overall aspiration for the future.
In the current election campaign a powerful impact was made by the coincidence of three factors, the appearance, at least two of which – pandemic coronavirus and nomination of candidates with a solid background nomenclature (Babariko and Tsepkalo) – hardly anyone could have foreseen.
The authorities ‘ reaction to the nomination of opponents not affiliated with the traditional opposition (it was left out of the game), and is acceptable to the bureaucracy, was the usual – insults, defamation, criminal prosecution and deprivation of the opportunity to become a candidate for President. But the position of President Lukashenko on the issue of competition with the coronavirus – an understatement of the seriousness of the problem, the refusal lockdown and comical tips on dealing with the infection (“vodka, a bath, a tractor”) – angered a significant portion of the population and, it seems, gave rise to a slight fermentation in the government.
Without sociology has come ” Psycho 3% “
The problem was exacerbated – and that’s factor number three – the lack of an independent sociology, which makes it impossible to accurately assess the scale of disturbance and fermentation in the Belarusian society. The authorities were in the position of excitable patient in whom the temperature rose, but he didn’t know how exactly, as he threw on the eve of the thermometer. The symptoms of “disease” – long queues of those wishing to subscribe for the nomination of alternative candidates, actions of solidarity across the country – there. How far has it gone – hard to say.
Hence, the ridiculous ban on online surveys of site visitors, in which Lukashenko gained 3% and Babariko – more than 50%. If anyone has forgotten – the 2010 elections are “voting is” the President’s opponents have already used. And they (social scientists treat such data with the irony) was the leader of opposition candidates. But Lukashenko then they generously did not notice, for he knew that the real figures are quite different.
They are different today, of course, support for the incumbent more than 3%. But the fact that this figure became a meme, many believed in it, and the authorities have to justify it, instead ignore it or ridicule, shows how insecure he feels Lukashenko. And how the Belarusian society.
The electoral base of the President for a quarter century, the Board radically transformed. It is not “humiliated and insulted” the mid-90s, is stronger than all suffered from the radical changes of those years, and the bureaucracy; law enforcement officers; social workers dependent on government, as well as an affiliated business with them. A lot of people, they probably had no illusions about Lukashenko and his policies, but supported him and will continue to do so, because based on the fact that it is in their interests.
Again ” elegant victory “?
No signs of a split in the Belarusian ruling elite, primarily in the power block, suggests that the further, all, alas, will go on no longer time tested scenario. Agitprop on all cylinders join in the glorification of Alexander Lukashenko and his achievements. The election Commission will count votes as well, the CEC will draw Lukashenko more than 80%, the other candidates will generously get within 5%.
And if you predict the outcome of the disagreement of society with the described scenario is hard enough, then the authorities ‘ response to such outrage is easy to imagine – it will be so hard, how will need to suppress the protests. This is evidenced by their behavior during this campaign in the first place, preventive detention and conviction on trumped-up pretexts potential leaders of the street – Pavel Seviarynets, Mikalai Statkevich Sergei Tikhanovski.
It is difficult to imagine that at the moment can be countered in Belarus ruler, every day repeating that “the country we will not give up”, and a position of the repressive apparatus, which still did not allow failure.
Undermined the legitimacy and its consequences
“The elections will be very interesting, and after the election will be even more interesting. I promise you,” said Alexander Lukashenko in a closed-door speech to the asset in Minsk region. The second part of the statement, perhaps, is to agree. Previously the legitimacy of Lukashenko within the country, almost no one questioned that allowed him more confident to deal with external partners.
And in Minsk, and in Moscow, and Brussels understand that although more than 80% Lukashenko actually certainly not gained the election-he won over 50% voted for him – that was confirmed by independent sociologists. Now it is not, this powerful trump card Lukashenko loses, the real rating is memes.
Loss of public support and bet on the force component of exacerbate the country’s economic problems, to solve which hardly someone from the outside willing to help. With high probability we can expect that relations between Minsk and the West will deteriorate again – to this one is enough unregistration of Babariko and Tsepkalo, and if you relapse the 2010 crackdown, then maybe the return of the sanctions.
This rollback will weaken the position of Minsk in the dialogue with Moscow. At the moment nothing suggests that Russia’s policy to steady decline of subsidies to Belarus and creating it a single national economic complex will change. On August 10 in Minsk, will come post-election hangover – of questionable legitimacy, and the growing economic problems at home, the coldness of the West and the 31 integration road map in Moscow.
Of course, we can hardly wait for the imminent collapse of the regime in Minsk, Lukashenko politician-survivor and a recognized master to maneuver and get out of difficult situations. But, at first glance, stable mode will irreversibly melt. And this process to stop is as problematic as global warming. On fundamental issues Lukashenko – he not just proved it is not ready to change his mind, and the preservation of existing approaches inevitably accelerates the movement of the Belarusian economy to bankruptcy, as in his interviews, not once convincingly told of Babariko. The question is, how long Lukashenko, not compromising principles, you can stay in the presidential chair.