February 5 – February 11, 2024
Society and political parties

The Coordination Council: A Dilemma in Democratic Progress?

The situation has not changed
The Coordination Council: A Dilemma in Democratic Progress?
Рисунок: Вячеслав Шилов

Despite being a subject of frequent criticism among advocates of change, the Coordination Council (CRC) continues to be a project under scrutiny. Democratic leaders’ rhetoric towards this organization aligns with the negative sentiments of their audiences. However, despite its flaws, many political and social players are invested in preserving the Coordination Council as a platform for the democratic movement.

In a recent session, delegates of the Coordination Council approved the election procedure and set the date for May 25, 2024. This decision was not without controversy; several significant figures, including Vice-Speaker Alena Zhyvaglod, left the organization, objecting to the extension of the powers of current members until new elections. The resulting global political crisis within the organization did little to foster compromise.

Nevertheless, the CRC remains a potent tool for political organizations to bolster their positions in the democratic movement and amplify their influence on international platforms. The platform also serves as a means to secure human and financial resources for active engagement.

Collaborating with Tsikhanouskaya’s office, representatives of the Coordination Council participate in the strategic dialogue “Belarus – USA.” In 2020, the American Congress, through the updated version of the Act on Democracy in Belarus, recognized the Coordination Council as a legitimate institution for participating in discussions on the peaceful transfer of power.

European institutions and authorities from individual EU countries have closely collaborated with Coordination Council representatives since the platform’s inception. The European Parliament has acknowledged the Coordination Council as a temporary representation of people demanding democratic changes in Belarus.

Despite its importance, critical views on the Coordination Council dominate among supporters of the democratic movement. Several reasons contribute to this:

  • A vague role in the democratic movement and limited influence on the internal democratic agenda.
  • Prolonged decision-making processes, unusual for Belarusians accustomed to living in an authoritarian country.
  • A proportional voting system for delegates with three votes and a gender quota. The electoral habits influenced by the democratic forces’ boycott strategies have led a significant part of regime opponents to be critical of any election.

Political organizations are sensitive to their audience’s negative perceptions of the Coordination Council, distancing themselves from the platform in their rhetoric. For instance, highly regarded democratic politician Pavel Latushka exited the Coordination Council, realizing that he couldn’t consolidate the majority of members around his agenda. Instead, he focused on developing a personal project (National Anti-Crisis Management) and strengthening positions in the Tsikhanouskaya’s Cabinet. However, NAM retained its delegate in the Coordination Council.

In summary, despite its imperfections, the Coordination Council remains a sought-after platform for democratic organizations. These organizations strive to secure representation in the Coordination Council and shape its agenda, despite public criticism.

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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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