July 9 – July 15, 2012

“Belaya Rus” Prepares for Parliamentary Elections and Transformation into a Political Party

The situation has not changed
“Belaya Rus” Prepares for Parliamentary Elections and Transformation into a Political Party

For the last three or four years, “Belaya Rus” – a pro-government organization – has been rumored to transform into a political party. However, after the parliamentary election there is high likelihood that it will become a presidential party.

The quango “Belaya Rus” views the upcoming parliamentary election campaign as a final test before it is transformed into a political party. Although this initiative does not have the support of higher circles or of Alexander Lukashenko himself, its leaders are actively lobbying it. Efforts are being made to transform the association into a presidential party mainly due to numerous local initiatives and persistent requests of regional activists.

SBIO monitoring forecast this scenario half a year ago. The regime cannot endlessly avoid sharing power and property with its supporters. Although “Belaya Rus” has been rumored to change into a political party for the last three or four years, we estimate that after the parliamentary election it is most likely to become a presidential party.

To this end, a symbolic initiative to establish a deputy group to the parliament made up of the members of “Belaya Rus” was announced at the last report and election conference in the Mogilev region. If the initiative is implemented in the new parliament, the transformation of “Belaya Rus” into a party will have moved from words to action.

The motive for transforming a public association into a political party remains the same. The elites, including in the regions, aim to increase their political weight in circumstances when public trust toward authorities is steadily declining. During the ongoing political campaign, “Belaya Rus” will be performing not only its traditional functions such as collecting signatures for official candidates, working in electoral commissions, and with candidates’ authorized representatives, but will also be observers in electoral commissions. A specific feature of the 2012 election campaign is that “Belaya Rus” is planning to put forward at least one candidate for each electoral district.

The quango Belaya Rus remains the largest public association in Belarus. As of July 1, 2012, it has 131,364 members. The issue of its transformation into a party will be considered at the organization’s November congress after the parliamentary elections.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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