Belarus - Future trends

The parliamentary election of October 2000 showed that President Lukashenka would keep his grip on the country by making sure that his opponents remained out of power. This continued to damage the legitimacy of his administration. President Lukashenka is expected to continue to dominate the political scene in the future, and he is almost assured of re-election. The opposition will remain weak, owing to consistent pressure from the administration and a lack of media access. However, the suppression of the opposition before the presidential election would damage relations with Western countries and international lending agencies.

The Belarusian leadership has had limited vision when attempting to tackle the country's economic problems. While its neighbors to the west (Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia) have long endorsed free market programs of economic reform, with overwhelming success, Belarus has stubbornly stood by a plan of economic union with Russia at a time when Russia has been facing economic uncertainty and political instability. Some polls have indicated that a large segment of the Belarusian population believes in the supremacy of the state and continues to expect a communist -like state to look after their well-being. The hard grip of the former communists on power, and an aging society with an unsure attitude towards market reforms, are likely to contribute to the maintenance of the status quo in Belarus, with continuing economic hardship and political repression.

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