“The Election Game:” Authoritarian Consolidation Processes in Belarus
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 25, Number 4, Fall 2017
- pp. 381-405
- Additional Information
Elections without content are characteristic of electoral authoritarianism. This article illustrates how the “election game” featuring “elections for the sake of elections” can contribute to the consolidation of an authoritarian regime. It analyzes how Belarusian authorities’ “menu of manipulation” shaped both the discourse and “practice” of “politics” in favor of the current system. Using selective repression – targeting mainly those openly wanting to change the status quo, while allowing some controlled openness for individuals, as long as they refrain from “doing politics” – discouraged political activism and contributed to a negative perception of the “opposition” as a noisy sub-group of the population. Such developments reinforced a perception of organized politics in general, and elections in particular, as abstract, unattractive and irrelevant to most.