So the election is over. Just as I predicted in my previous post, nothing changed in the Belarusian politicum. The West and some naïve opposition candidates aspired for, at least, some change. Heck, what if the regime was serious about liberalization, some thought.
On one managerial social network, I read how Viktor Gertsik, a Belarusian businessman blabbed about the prospects for new “unchecked” politicians to jump on the bandwagon and get elected to the Belarusian Parliament. Soon that guy ran for the Parliament, not knowing that neither the Belarusian regime was so permissible for outsiders nor the population was energized by the parliamentary race. The candidate was astonished when he came to a campaign meeting which had been openly and uninterruptedly advertised around the town for two weeks. What the candidate saw was astounding. Nobody showed up except for one person, a reporter of a local newspaper.
Another candidate in that district, Yaraslau Bernikovich, a local opposition leader highly advertised by the national media as a perspective politician, fought for voters by coming daily to a local market to distribute his leaflets and motivate voters to come to a polling station and vote. It wasn’t hard to notice a tint of skepticism in the look of passersby as he handed in his leaflets to them. One told me that she was confused by Bernikovich’s smile. “Why is he always smiling?”nervously commented the woman.
The third candidate in Hlybokaje was the officially endorsed Vladimir Andreichenko, the governor of Vitebsk oblast, who was retiring. Retiring to become a lawmaker. A very peculiar Belarusian elite retirement plan – to solemnly sit in a parliamentarian seat. Andreichenko has close ties to Lukashenko family. Before the official start of the election campaign, nobody here guessed that he, the one who had nothing to do with Hlybokaje, would run in this district. Neither Bernikovich nor Gertsik expected such a rival. Of course, the whole administrative resource worked for Andreichenko. I guess many local bureaucrats would have been sacked if that guy had failed to get a decent percentage in the precinct. No surprise, he won in a landslide. Would he win had it been a fair play? Hard to say, probably not. But having a clear presumptuous winner on the ballot brings even more apathy to the electorate. Why should we care to vote if the result was clear? – that’s what I heard many times in Hlybokaje.
It is hard to say how many people showed up to vote. There were no exit polls in Hlybokaje, few independent observers. What I have heard is that the real turnout in Hlybokaje was low. The official turnout was more than OK. But I doubt its reliability.
Is the election heat subsiding in Hlybokaje? No, it’s not. There was hardly any heat in the first place, there is nothing to cool down. I believe the picture was quite similar throughout the country.