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Poor technologies behind Belarusian opposition’s failure to win presidential election

At the latest presidential election the Belarusian government outplayed the opposition using better political technologies instead of administrative leverage, Vadim Gigin, Editor-in-Chief of the Belaruskaya Dumka Magazine, Executive Secretary of the Belarusian Union of Journalists, told media on 11 January.

Speaking about the presidential election, Vadim Gigin underlined that the opposition had failed to steer the events according to their own scenario. The registration of a large number of alternative candidates came as a nasty shock for the opposition. It was generally acknowledged that negotiations had been held to agree who would have quitted the presidential race in favor of certain other candidates. Instead the opposition was handed nine candidates without a single leader.

Besides, the large number of votes “None of the above” indicates that Belarusian electors saw no suitable candidates among the alternative candidates. Moreover, some of the protesting voters voted for the incumbent president. Those are the people who are dissatisfied with municipal authorities, for instance, the state of affairs in the household services industry. The opposition failed to win them over.

Analyzing the protesting electorate in Belarus, Vadim Gigin distinguished several groups. Their number includes ultranationalists. They are people with a strict ideology who cannot accept someone else’s point of view. They do not care about social or economic aspects but a certain ideologeme. There is also a group of pro-Russia voters. They had been supporting the Belarus president’s policy of integration with Russia. They were not at all pleased by the tensions in Belarusian-Russian relations.

Vadim Gigin believes that mass protest ideas can be found in more than one stratum of the Belarusian society. “Certainly, in many strata the percentage is small,” said the Editor-in-Chief of the Belaruskaya Dumka Magazine. He also added that Belarusian self-employed businessmen used to be protesters but not anymore. Moreover, self-employed businessmen generally raise concerns only in unofficial discussions. The liberalization policy, in particular, Belarus President Directive No. 4, has helped calm down tensions in this category of the Belarusian electorate.


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