February 26 – March 3, 2024
The ruling elite

Elections 2024: The Ruling Class Consolidates Its Monopoly on Power

The situation got worse
Elections 2024: The Ruling Class Consolidates Its Monopoly on Power

The ruling class is imposing a mobilization model of electoral behavior on the electorate in non-competitive elections. “Belaya Rus” triumphantly bursts into the political life of the country – 46% of deputies in the House of Representatives and 26% in local councils.

The authorities have created comfortable conditions for the mobilization of loyalists and unopposed agitation among the politically neutral audience. This scenario will most likely be the basis for the conduct of the presidential elections in 2025.

The regime’s defenders have depoliticized and spread absenteeism among opponents through harsh repressions and blocking opposition candidates at the nomination stage. The ruling class has made significant mobilization efforts in the last months of the election campaign, when the approach of the democratic forces to ignore the campaign crystallized.

The regime is imposing a post-Soviet model of electoral behavior on society. Youth, as well as budget sector workers, state sector employees, and other beneficiaries of state support, are forced to participate in the voting in various ways – both through persuasion and threats. At the same time, excessive interest in the electoral campaign, candidates, and programs is not welcomed. Incidentally, deviations from typical behavioral models at polling stations are not welcomed either. The main element of this model is the visit of an apolitical voter to the polling station for voting, preferably during the early voting period.

Unlike the Soviet model, there exists four political parties (reminiscent of the situation in Central and Eastern European countries in the 1950s-1980s).

Party representation in the parliament and local councils has significantly increased. This hardly indicates competition and ideological diversity among the ruling class against the backdrop of the imposition of the cult of personality of Lukashenka by propagandists. Rather, it suggests an attempt by various factions (mainly grouped around “Belaya Rus”) to prepare for the power transition. Simultaneously, additional mechanisms for legitimizing the new regime structure are being created.

The nomenklatura broke the resistance of Lukashenka, who for many years hindered the development of political parties — including pro-government ones. In the parliament and local councils prior to the 2024 elections, the majority were non-partisan deputies. Now, in all representative bodies of the regime, representatives from “Belaya Rus” have taken a significant share of places, but not yet a majority. It should be noted: approximately such proportions of deputies belonged to “Belaya Rus” as a public association (which has been leading the story since 2007, and finally transformed into a party in 2023).

Thus, in the House of Representatives, 64% (70 out of 110) of newly appointed deputies are members of political parties, of which 51 parliamentarians are from “Belaya Rus”. In the previous convocation of the parliament, party members only took 21 out of 110 seats.

In local councils, party members took almost a third of the vacancies – 30.4% (or 3803 out of 12511 seats), again with the absolute leadership of deputies – Belarusians (3234 people). This is despite the fact that in the local elections of 2018, party members only received 457 out of 18110 mandates.

Thus, the ruling class will continue to develop collective governing bodies in anticipation of the power transition.

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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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