There are parties there, but their influence on the political life of the country is minimal.
Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil
Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy told us that all happy families are equally happy, and every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. As political reality shows, families have a lot to do with politics. In Western democracies, there are several parties of different orientations, which accumulate the interests of certain groups of the population. In less democratic countries, the party political landscape is often unique. Until today's announcement of the creation of a new party in Belarus, only the sophisticated guessed that there are parties in Belarus. As it turned out, there are even a lot of them. But what distinguishes them from each other is only the degree of loyalty to Alexander Lukashenko personally.
Loyal parties are the Communist Party of the Republic of Belarus, the Republican Party of Labor and Justice, the Belarusian Agrarian Party, the Belarusian Social and Sports Party, the Belarusian Patriotic Party and the Social Democratic Party of Popular Accord. Together they had a 15-20% support level prior to the August 9 presidential elections.
Lukashenko’s regime is based on two centrist parties - the Republican Party and the Liberal Democratic Party with similar levels of support.
Oppositional, but still loyal to the regime of the party - the Belarusian Party of the Left "Fair World" (former Party of Communists), the Belarusian Party "Green", the Belarusian Popular Front and the Conservative Christian Party - BPF, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) and the Party "Belarusian social democratic Hramada". During the presidential elections, they all supported Lukashenko or were neutral towards him.
- An interesting fact: Alyaksandr Lukashenko hasn’t created a party of power in 26 years of his rule. The pro-government party "Belarus" was preparing for this role. It was created on the model of the CPSU. But she's insanely weak. And although it was built according to the leader's format, nothing happened. In the elections, it was not heard at all. Lukashenko was a communist, a member of the CPSU. He is afraid of party meetings, party re-election. He is used to the fact that he has absolute power. Therefore, he does not even need a party that he would lead, as was done even in the countries of the Middle East”, - says Andrey Suzdaltsev.
Experts believe that Belarus did not fully transition to democracy in the 90s.
- President Alexander Lukashenko has created a completely unique political regime for a small Eastern European country, which has similar features to "delegative democracy" (according to Guillermo O'Donnell's interpretation). Delegative democracies are based on the premise that winning the presidential election gives the winner the right to govern the country as he sees fit, while he is limited only by the circumstances of existing power relations”, - says Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Center for Regional Policy Development.
There were real opposition parties in Belarus too, although they ended in 2010. After the collapse of the USSR, a "party incubator" appeared in Belarus - the Belarusian Popular Front, headed by Zenon Poznyak.
- The Belarusian Popular Front was built following the example of the nationalist popular fronts of the Baltic states. All the parties that exist today came out of there. They split, shared. Not a single party new under Lukashenko has registered. The old parties were active in the fight against Lukashenko, but they failed the elections in 2001, 2006 and 2010. After 2010, they began to disintegrate and creep apart. The opposition movement began to defragment and lose its structure”, - says Andrey Suzdaltsev , political scientist, expert on the post-Soviet space...
At the beginning of the 2000s, the Belarusian opposition made efforts to consolidate and unite. The unification process resulted in the nomination of a single opposition candidate in the 2001 presidential elections and the creation of an opposition coalition in the 2004 parliamentary elections.
"The 2006 elections became an important stage in the development of the Belarusian opposition. These elections were supposed, according to the calculations of the opposition, to become another "color revolution" in the post-Soviet space. However, the democratic transition in Belarus did not take place. The Belarusian society turned out to be not ready for democratic transformations according to the scenarios proposed by the opposition candidates - Alyaksandr Milinkevich and Alyaksandr Kazulin. After the 2006 presidential elections, the Belarusian opposition turned out to be fragmented again, its support in the society turned out to be rather low”, - Ilya Grashchenkov reminds.
In totalitarian regimes, with the weakening of the dictator, the "official opposition" also leaves the scene, says political analyst Suzdaltsev. After 2010, Lukashenko's regime began to weaken, and with it the parties began to crumble. In 2019, they tried to agree on a single cross-party leader and failed. When protest potential began to form in April of this year, there were no parties. There were no statements by party leaders, no party conferences or congresses, no protest activities.
There are no parties to be seen, but people take to the streets every day across the country. Alexander Lukashenko is not giving up. For his own salvation, he started a constitutional reform. He talks about it not in parliament, but on TV, addressing directly the opposition. The opposition demands a return to the 1994 Constitution, before the changes that Lukashenko introduced to strengthen his own power: to appoint the government and the prime minister without the consent of parliament, to dissolve the parliament, and, as an apotheosis, the ability to be nominated by the president without time limits. Lukashenko disagrees. So Moscow offers help, although amendments are left at the discretion of the Belarusians.
It is still difficult to understand what political models will take root in Belarus for the transition period from the Lukashenko dictatorship to the future structure of the country. Will Belarus become a European country, modeled on Eastern Europe? Or will the authoritarian style of government leave such wounds that the establishment of a European-style democracy will be difficult?
No one has any doubts that the created party "Together" will not be registered in Belarus. It will not receive government funding and will not be able to integrate into party life. Firstly, because there is no party life in Belarus, but only the aging autocrat Lukashenko. And secondly, party life is one of the phenomena of the industrial era. Belarus, a country of advanced IT technologies, chooses network structures.
"Now the most interesting are not parties, but movements. Among those that existed before the split into “for the father” and “opposition”: Speak the Truth, For Freedom, Democratic Youth Union, Civil Forum, Bison and MHSS (Young Democrats), Belaya Rus, Belarusian Narodny Rukh, Libertarian Movement of Belarus and others. It is these movements, which today unite from 50 to 70% of the entire electorate, can become a powerful political force in the future elections in the Republic of Belarus”, - Ilya Grashchenkov believes.
It is no coincidence that the actual coordinators of the protests in Belarus were network information resources: Nekhta, Onliner, Novaya Niva, Tut.by. Before our eyes, a social experiment is unfolding within the framework of one country. The protest is not organized from the outside, is not managed from a single center and has no sponsors. The Coordination Council is more of a council of elders than a fighting cell. In addition, half of its members are in prison, another third in neighboring Lithuania. And yet, people continue to go out for the third week in a row. This is how people vote for the change today.