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BELARUS The Race of One against All and History

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1 BELARUS 2012+ The Race of One against All and History
Yauheni Preiherman Center for Analytical Initiatives PA Discussion and Analytical Society Liberal Club

2 Core Fragments Parliamentary elections 2012: little to talk about, but… Political system under threat: smth new is knocking on the door The eternal question of the broken opposition What the prospects look like?

3 Election 2012 central issue – BOYCOTT/TURNOUT*
Boycotting opposition + government + pro-government parties and NGOs = quite an effect!!! General perception of the role of parliament General perception of the fairness of the election Transformation of the social contract (?) or End of Lukashenka’s populist politics (?) *And that’s after last year’s financial crisis

4 Parliamentary elections predictive variables in the Belarusian consolidated authoritarianism


6 Unprecedented pressure on Lukashenka to start change
Traditional: West (EU + US) Russia “Third column” ECONOMY Recent: Ruling elites Absolutely recent: Electorate at large

7 Change of the political system!!!
The West wants Democratization (+ macroeconomic stabilization, microeconomic liberalization, privatization) Change of the political system!!!

8 Russia wants Macroeconomic liberalization + privatization Change of the political system!!!

9 “Third column” wants Democratization Change of the political system!!!

10 What the ruling elites want
More rents (privatization) + managed democracy Change of the political system!!!

11 What the electorate at large want
Stable (growing) income It’s the economy, stupid! Change of the political system!!!

12 Change is knocking on the door
“Everyone wants it, except for one person!” But THE ONE’s maneuvering field is shrinking The situation with Belaya Rus is very telling and indicative If Belaya Rus is transformed into a political party it will mean the end of the old politics New politics will bring further unpredictability, but the old politics will stay no less unpredictable

While the regime stays consolidated it does not really matter what strategies the opposition adheres to (boycott/participation or united/disunited) The opposition will never get united sitting around a negotiation table Only a strong political leader/organization can unite the others (who will simply join in an inferior status) A political organization is strong when its leader or platform (or both) enjoy considerable popularity in society The main problem of the internal and external anti-regime policies are exaggerated short-term expectations!

14 What can be a trigger? ECONOMY While the regime remains consolidated:
multiple desire for change is not enough the opposition is incapable of transforming the situation ECONOMY

15 Prospects: Need for Change GDP Growth in Jan-Aug 2012

16 Prospects: Need for Change Foreign Trade in Jan-Aug 2012

17 Prospects: Need for Change Economy
Unstable performance. Uncertainty about economic rents from Russia. Demand for Belarusian goods and services under question. Risky concentration of the exports. Customs Union/CES/WTO Officials on the run

18 Lukashenka’s only available option
Some sort of (“radical”) authoritarian modernization But can it work out?

19 No, it cannot!!! Belarus is not Singapore
Lukashenka factor (“Spartak”, Kommunarka”) Theory of transformations of this kind Belarusian practice (systemic curse)

20 Race until the runner is out
Belarus is doomed to stable instability. The people are doomed to lack of sustainable growth. Unpredictability is enormous . The situation is definitely qualitatively new. If the opposition continue their usual way of behavior, changes will take place without their participation.

21 As of today, the situation looks exactly like this

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