Gathering Moss 17 – Belarus

Israeli dysfunctional democracy often reminds me of its Russian counterpart. There, too, is the leader and some bland party with no ideology. The party’s name changes from time to time, but most of the people in the middle remain the same. Once they used to call themselves communists, then democrats, now they don’t bother to call themselves anything. They just support Putin. It’s very important that Putin will remain in power, they say.

And there are a lot of other parties, other politicians with many ideas – the “liberal-democrat” Zhirinovsky, the communist nationalist Zjuganov, the social-democrat Yavlinsky, the democrats Nemtsov and Hakamada. There’s also a bunch of conservative antisemites. There’s some fuss about all of them, but somehow none of them is in power and the faceless “nomenclature” president-backing party always rules. Sometimes it even adopts the little politicians’ ideas and takes all the credit. Really very similar to Israel.

But yesterday i understood that we have another political twin – Belarus. They are having elections soon too. The current president, Lukashenk(o|a), will likely win, without the need for too much falsification. Everyone all over the world seems to hate him, but Belarusians keep voting for him. He’s conservative, he’s populist, he’s deeply rooted in Soviet culture, he develops a minor personality cult. He has some actual achievements to show. It is reported that the economy is perceived as stable and unemployment is not disastrous. Free speech and Belarusian national identity are in a bad shape, but the public doesn’t care about it. Now here’s the most striking resemblance to Israel: Lukashenko is said not to invest much effort in an actual campaign, because he’s busy running the country. And that’s just what Olmert says. His Kadima party is barely three months old, but he successfully positioned it as the ruling party. A party with National Responsibility! And change, in this case, wouldn’t be any good. “Me and Tzipi Livni are so busy running the country that we don’t have time to campaign. We don’t bother to promise you anything, because we all know that politicians’ promises aren’t worth anything. So just vote for us and let’s get over these elections. Who needs elections anyway.”

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