Tags: belarus | croatia | alexandr lukashenka | elections

A Contest and a Set Up in Eastern Europe

alexandr lukashenka speaking at a podium
Belarus President Alexandr Lukashenka addresses the United Nations in 2005. (AFP Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 24 July 2020 08:12 AM

Elections are a tell-tale sign of democracy, but they are also a permanent feature of a dictatorship. In a democratic contest elections are real and indispensable for power. In a dictatorial game "elections" are a deception operation to compel the people to report at the voting booth to cast a vote that matters not because the dictator is always predetermined to win.

That reminds me of an old joke: What's the difference between American elections and Soviet elections? It's like the difference between a chair and an electric chair.

A couple of weeks ago a parliamentary election took place in Croatia in the Intermarium's western Balkans. Conservatives won hands down. They looked like winners, but you never know. It's called democracy.

On the other hand, in a couple of weeks there is a presidential election scheduled in Belarus. And, save an act of God, I can tell you who will win: Alexandr Lukashenka. The incumbent president will thus secure his sixth term.

In Croatia, conservative Christian democrats trounced the post-Communists. Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won 37.2% of the vote, while the Social Democratic Party of Croatia garnered 24.9%. Since the elections of 2016, the HDZ improved its support slightly (by 1%), but that translates into five more parliamentary deputies, giving the party 61 seats out of 151.

The SDs ran as a coalition with other leftists under the umbrella of "Restart." They failed to ignite. They lost 9% of support since the previous election. The coalition earned only 41 seats, which means nine deputies fewer than in 2016.

Of other contenders, the nationalists of the Fatherland Movement scored nearly 11% (16 deputies); the independents of the MOST movement (former coalition partner of the HDZ) took 7.4% (8 deputies); the Green-left alliance claimed 7% (7 deputies); liberal Pametno party snatched 4% (3 deputies); and at the tail end both the Reformers and the Croatian Popular Party/Liberal Democrats (HNS) raked in one mandate each.

Funny, but the pre-election surveys indicated that conservatives were running even with the post-Communists. That means that post-Communist polling companies that dominate the landscape indulged in a combination of wishful thinking and propaganda via statistics. And so did much of Croatia's mass media, which often morphed into liberalism from Communist party outlets after 1989.

The only worrisome thing about the Croatian vote was that it failed to attract most of the electorate. Only 46.5% bothered to show up at the booth. This is a substantial drop from almost 53% who did their civic duty in 2016.

Otherwise, the conservative victory is a plus. Croatia will continue on a pro-American and pro-NATO course, while kowtowing less to the EU. There are big hopes that the much needed energy hub will emerge in a Croatian port. With a twin installation underway in Poland, the hub would supply western and southeastern Europe to make it energy independent from Russia. The project is contingent, of course, on America's help and Hungary's cooperation. Croatia would have to work hard with others to procure it for the sake of European stability.

Well, I'm guessing the voter participation in Belarus will be huge. 90%? 95%? Depending on the dictator's mood, his victory will be between 85% and 99.5%. It is a wild guess, but we can be on it.

At any rate, there has not been much conventional campaigning in Belarus. Instead, Lukashenka disenfranchised a popular blogger, Valery Tsepkalo, who dared to gather enough signatures to challenge the incumbent. The reason was that the blogger allegedly failed to gather enough signatures. The president simply invalidated the submissions.

In a more ham-fisted manner, Lukashenka ordered the arrest of Belgazprombank's chief Viktar Babariko. The closest thing that Belarus has to an oligarch, Babariko is reportedly tight with the Kremlin, so Lukashenka takes him seriously, particularly after the banker entered the presidential fray. Now Babariko stands accused of money laundering and tax fraud.

The playing field cannot be more even for Europe's last dictator. His competition has seriously thinned out. There have also been preventive arrests of people who dared to take to the streets to demonstrate against the latest presidential moves in Minsk.

In the latest news, however, there are rumors that Lukashenka has just landed in a hospital. Reportedly, he has suffered a stroke. Perhaps it is a trick to gain sympathy. Perhaps it is not. The Belarusian government spokesperson has flatly denied the reports. Yet, Lukashenka remains invisible as of this writing. As 19th century Russia's foreign minister Prince Alexandr M. Gorchakov used to say, "I refuse to believe information that has not been disavowed."

This is a potentially destabilizing situation. If the Minsk dictator is truly ailing, it will be an uncommon opportunity for Vladimir Putin to assert himself and vassalize or even absorb Belarus into the Russian Federation. With Lukashenka at the helm that would be difficult to accomplish. It's better to be a dictator of one's own country than one of the satraps of the master of the Kremlin.

Did I mention an act of God? We shall see on August 9.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports – More Here.

© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Depending on the dictator's mood, his victory will be between 85% and 99.5%.
belarus, croatia, alexandr lukashenka, elections
Friday, 24 July 2020 08:12 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved