The population is willing to vote but remains politically inactive
The election campaign is following the traditional path with a slight increase in pro-state public institutions’ activities. Regardless of the citizen’s high readiness to vote, the electoral political activity in the country is extremely low.
On August 13th finished the next stage of the election campaign: signatures collection in support of Deputy Candidates. The Candidates’ registration will be completed by August 23rd.
As of August 14, there were 494 applicants for the status of a candidate, including 21 current MPs.
Political parties proposed the largest number of candidates - 264, citizens put forward 223 candidates through the signature’s collection, 111 candidates were put forward from labor groups. Among political parties, the most active is the Liberal Democratic Party (93 nominees), the United Civil Party (48), the Belarusian Popular Front (33) and the Belarusian Left Party “Fair World” (32).
According to the CEC Head Mrs. Yarmoshyna, during the candidates’ registration their number will shrink significantly because the quality of submitted applications (documents, tax forms, signatures) is low. According to the CEC, in 2008, one-fourth of all applications had been rejected.
During this campaign youth organization Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) is very active. The organization has already announced several national information campaigns, inter alia, “The Young Voter Day” and has set up a network of elections HQs in the regions.
Presumably, the purpose of these BRSM actions is to mobilize young people to participate in the election campaign. As noted earlier, two other organizations are responsible for the mobilization of the adult population – Belarusian Federation of Trade Unions and “Belaya Rus” quango.
IISEPS’ June poll said the proportion of citizens willing to vote is quite high - 50.7% respondent said ‘yes’. At the same time, 19.4% were not planning to vote, and 29.9% were undecided. At the same time, opposition parties and social movements note very low citizen’s activity they encountered during the signatures’ collection process.
Political apathy of the population is part of the state policy and the basis of the regime’s stability. Voting is considered a ritual obligation. It is anticipated that in September the authorities will start an active mobilization campaign using state media and quangos, which will increase the turnout at the polling stations.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.