DiscussionI detail the progress on adopting a new Belarusian Constitution. This topic is uncertain, but there should be more clarity by the BASEES conference because President Lukashenka, reacting in 2020 to calls by the opposition for the adoption of a new Constitution, called for a draft to be drawn up by the end of 2021. This will, he said, be published in early 2022 and put to a referendum in February 2022, shortly before the BASEES conference. The opposition had called for a new Constitution that would restrict the powers of the president and increase those of parliament. Lukashenka has conceded that the new Constitution might restrict the powers of the president. This has been interpreted as a move to ensure that, were he forced out of office, his successor would be weakened and unable to exercise the same powers that Lukashenka has had. At the same time, Lukashenka has called for amendments that would strengthen the powers of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, which he heads and consists of many of his supporters. Lukashenka appears determined to secure his future and that of the system he has created.
This is reminiscent of the amendments to the Russian Constitution proposed in 2020 by Putin; while Putin originally said he favoured reducing the powers granted to the president by the Russian Constitution and increasing those of parliament, the amendments adopted in 2020 saw the president with more powers than before. I will compare the Russian and Belarusian examples.