Belarus leader, Alexander Lukashenko, made a statement, saying the country was up to constitutional changes. Another, no less ambitious, statement was that certain ‘Wise Men Board’ would be set up to elaborate reforms and changes.
It is unknown yet, what particular changes are to be expected. They will presumably introduced through a referendum. It’s also unclear, who will be among the President’s announced ‘Wise Men.’
Therefore, until then, the Euroradio has found its own ones: Denis Melyantsev and Andrey Kazakevich, the political analysts, as well as Mikhail Pastukhov, former judge of the Constitutional Court. They made their assumptions concerning the reforms and changes to be expected in Belarus.
Option 1: Transition to parliamentary republic (president elected by parliament, rather than by popular vote)
“If our leadership is really going to play a la Russian sovereign democracy in order to demonstrate that there are both, the parliament and the party system, then there could be changes towards presidential-parliamentary republic, rather than towards presidential one, says Denis Melyantsov, a political analyst.
At the same time, he adds that parliamentary republic doesn’t imply being more democratic. In Belarus, it is far more important how the system actually works, rather than how it’s all described on paper in the Constitution.
Mikhail Pastukhov, former judge of the Constitutional Court, also point to the fact that Belarus may shift to parliamentary republic. In this regard, he refers to Armenia’s recent experience.
“The so-called ‘Armenian option’ is quite possible. In December 2015, Armenia held the constitutional referendum that approved transition to the system of electing president by MPs..
Option 2: Changes in the electoral system
All three interviewed experts believe, this option is quite possible. The matter concerns parliamentary elections through the party lists.
That is, when a vote is cast for a party, rather than for a particular person. And then it’s up to the party to decide, who is to be send to Parliament (of course, if it gets enough votes).
In theory, introduction of such a system doesn’t require any constitutional changes – it’s just suffice to change the electoral legislation. However, in case of transition to parliamentary republic (as described in the paragraph above), changes should be outlined directly in the country’s Basic Law.
Option 3 Abolition of death penalty
‘The head of state was making reference to the fact that it was the decision that people made during 1996 referendum. Therefore, it could be once again suggested that the opinions in this regard be express with a mandatory outcome. That’s what both, the community and Europe, demand, says Mikhail Pastukhov.
Such variant of changes also seems possible. A referendum is needed in this case too.
On the other hand, there is absolutely no need to abolish death penalty in order to achieve positive reaction on part of the community and the West. Introduction of a moratorium will be quite enough. And this could be done within a couple of days, without any costly referendums, just by a single presidential decree.
Option 4. No mentioning of commercial courts
“The commercial court system was abolished in Belarus some 3-4 years ago. However, the Supreme Commercial Court, for instance, still remains in the Constitution. It’s an obvious contradiction that should be removed somehow, says Mikhail Pastukhov.
It’s really so- the Supreme Commercial Court is mentioned in the Constitution, but practically it doesn’t exist. Thus, the text of the Basic Law needs a rewrite. On the other hand, why should the Wise Men Board be convened and a referendum be held for such a minor issue?
Option 5. Elimination of the Council of the Republic
“There are problems with the Parliament’s Upper House. By many parameters, it is either dysfunctional or needless at all. It could be removed. Although it didn’t seem, there were any discussions in this regard, but redistribution of duties would have looked quite logical, believes Andrey Kazakevich, a political analyst.
In the expert’s opinion, parliament’s division into two parts was aimed at reinsurance against the mischievous opposition. Fear sees danger everywhere and also, the opposition was different in the 90’s.
Now, as the dust has settled, we can get back to a simpler parliamentary system, to eliminate the Council of the Republic or to merge it with the House of Representatives.
All experts share the opinion that the country’s leader wouldn’t have talked about the constitutional changes for no reason. Lukashenko’s public statement in this regard indicates that the decision has been already made and what exactly has been decided will be known quite soon.