PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN BELARUS-2010:
bland filling in spicy wrapping
Yauheni Preiherman and Aliaksandr Apeikin
This analytical report concludes a research project which was carried out by the Center for Analytical Initiatives of the PA Discussion and Analytical Society Liberal Club. The project focused on examining the contents (the candidates’ programs and the pre-election discourse) of the 2010 Presidential campaign in Belarus.
Based on the findings of the content analysis of the presidential candidates’ electoral messages and a series of structured and semi-structured interviews with politicians, activists, election observers and members of electoral commissions, the authors made the following major conclusions:
• The election campaign demonstrated a highly contradictory state of political parties in Belarus. On the one hand, some of them were for the first time represented by their own candidate and demonstrated relatively good campaigning potential. But on the other hand, many party activists worked simultaneously for different candidates, which raises numerous questions as to the parties’ ideological function.
• Populism was a dominant feature of the campaign. The candidates paid little attention to their policy programs. They predominantly ran on values rather than programs.
• Interestingly, the few policy discussions that took place revealed wide declarative consensus on major issues of domestic and foreign politics.
• The campaign was full of examples of black PR and negative electoral messages.
• In spite of some candidates’ attempts to transcend the black-and-white paradigm of authoritarian politics the major dividing line between the contesters ran along the “pro/against Lukashenka” line.
• The campaign showed that Belarus remains in the situation of pending strategic orientation and Belarusian society has not resolved the basic dilemmas it has faced since the collapse of the Soviet Union.