Elections-2024: Carrots for Supporters, Crackdown on Opponents
The Belarusian establishment is looking to rebuild trust in the eyes of both the public and the international community regarding the legitimacy of state institutions. The regime’s enforcers are downplaying the risks of protests against election fraud, emphasizing the prevalence of absenteeism among government critics. The upcoming elections are crucial for Lukashenka’s supporters to reaffirm their trust in state institutions, especially with no mandatory turnout threshold.
The single day of voting in 2024 is a pivotal moment in solidifying the renewed agreement between the Belarusian leadership and the populace. This agreement reinforces the monopoly of the current political elites during the power transition, emphasizing collective forms of governance.
The ruling class has created favorable conditions for election organizers. In early 2023, lawmakers eliminated the turnout threshold for parliamentary elections (already done for local councils in 2010), simplifying the vertical organization of elections. The primary task now is to mobilize potential sympathizers to ensure their active participation in the electoral process.
To secure the loyalty of state employees, public sector workers, and pensioners – groups with traditionally higher turnout rates than the youth – supporters are enticed with financial incentives. In late December 2023 and early January 2024, the government refrained from the customary increase in communal service tariffs, and starting February 1, Lukashenka will raise pensions by an average of 10%.
Conversely, the regime has depoliticized its opponents in recent years, driving a significant portion of pro-democracy activists abroad. Security forces persist in brutal repression against government critics to maintain their absenteeism. As a result, the democratic forces, have refrained from mobilization measures, urging sympathizers to disregard the election campaign.
Independent media have relegated the topic of elections to the periphery of their agenda, a stark contrast to state media. The ideological vertical actively engages consumers of state publications, preparing regime supporters for mobilization on the Single Day of Voting.
The ruling class anticipates strong support from Lukashenka’s sympathizers at the polling stations. Systemic political parties have actively participated in the campaign to nominate candidates for parliament and local councils.
In summary, the organizers of the elections aim to restore confidence in public opinion that the majority supports the regime. Simultaneously, they seek an agreement on the ruling class’s monopoly on power, marginalizing Lukashenka’s opponents.
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Situation in Belarus