Country Report Belarus December 1998 Main report

Outlook for 1999-2000: Lukashenka will cont to dominate pol'l scene--

Backed by a tame legislature, obedient government officials and loyal security services, the president, Alyaksandar Lukashenka, will maintain his hold on the political scene and further promote his own vision of political and economic development. Broadly speaking, this vision is anti- democratic, anti-market and anti-Western. The presidential administration, under the leadership of Mikhail Miasnikovich, will increase its policymaking dominance, while ministries will assume a secondary role -- making policy formation even less transparent. The president and his entourage will continue to arrive at decisions in private, using government ministers as convenient scapegoats in case of policy failure or as a background against which to display the superior leadership qualities of Mr Lukashenka. The president has until now retained his popularity among the majority of the electorate. The EIU expects this public support to persist, on the whole, as a consequence of the prevailing political apathy among the Belarusian people and a general lack of information about the increasingly secretive political process.

-- while the opposition's influence will remain negligible

Despite a worsening economic crisis and the increasingly apparent shortcomings of Mr Lukashenka's economic policies, it remains unlikely that any strong political rivals to Mr Lukashenka will emerge. Opposition parties in Belarus have been suppressed in recent years and appear likely to remain weak and divided. They are isolated from any potential power base and suffer from their inability to mobilise support for their cause or to produce a well-developed programme. Unable to convey their message to the electorate, opposition groups will therefore remain on the sidelines during the forecast period.

© 1998 The Economist lntelligence Unit Ltd. All rights reserved
Whilst every effort has been taken to verify the accuracy of this information, The Economist lntelligence Unit Ltd. cannot accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this information