Prospects for leftist parties’ coalition in Belarus
On February 17th, a meeting of representatives from a number of left-wing parties and movements took place in Minsk.
Centrifugal processes continue developing inside the opposition, reflected in formation of different coalitions. Special feature of the newly forming leftist coalition is its promising ideological core - protection of workers’ rights - and the corresponding target group, which is poorly represented at the political level.
The event was attended by representatives of the Belarusian Green Party, the Belarusian Left Party “Fair World”, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Gramada), independent trade unions and informal media and youth projects. The meeting discussed the possibility of nominating a single candidate from the leftist forces in the 2015 presidential elections.
Despite of its ‘framework’ nature, the meeting of the Belarusian leftists was significant for several reasons. First, it was an attempt by a number of political actors to come together based on an ideological issue, and not based on resources or leaders’ personal connections. Second, participants positioned themselves primarily not against Lukashenko’s regime, but in relation to a particular social group, i.e. wage workers whose social rights should be protected from successive narrowing.
Such an “ideological” principle for coalition building is, at least, non-conventional. Other opposition coalitions today are built primarily on the basis of resources and personnel, as well as through boycotts or dialogue with the authorities. As a result, ideologically close counterparts find themselves on different sides of the political divide. For example, the UCP party and the organizing committee of BCD on the one hand, and the “Tell the Truth!” movement and BPF on the other hand, let alone the “European Belarus” campaign, which is controlled from abroad and is the most radical vis-à-vis the current government, and their colleagues in the opposition.
The potential leftist coalition’ success depends primarily on the resources and personal factors: whether the participants will be able to find the necessary human and financial resources for the local and presidential election campaigns, and whether they will develop loyalty, sufficient for long-term cooperation.
The financial crisis in Belarus in 2011 demonstrated that the left-wing parties and independent trade unions in Belarus were not able to mobilize employees, whose standards of living had fallen sharply. In 2012 they also had not increased their activities after the scandalous Decree No 9 took effect.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.