Chapter

Constitutionalism in Belarus: A False Start

Alexander Lukashuk

in Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe Volume 1: Institutional Engineering

Published in print June 2001 | ISBN: 9780199244089
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600364 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199244081.003.0011

Series: Oxford Studies in Democratization

 Constitutionalism in Belarus: A False Start

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Describes the failure of the constitution‐drafting process to contribute to democratic consolidation in Belarus. Today, Belarus is considered the worst authoritarian regime in Eastern Europe. The chapter characterizes the Constitution of Belarus as an occasionally used tool for manipulation by the country's autocratic president. While the president considers the Constitution he drafted to be the sole foundation of law in the country, the democratic opposition considers it illegal and illegitimate. Nevertheless, as the focal point of the struggle between President Lukashenka and the democratic opposition, the significance of the Constitution remains strong. The chapter emphasizes how certain choices and omissions in the constitution‐drafting process laid the foundation for the current undemocratic regime. The chapter indicates reasons behind the failure of constitutionalism in Belarus, such as a weak national identity, the absence of economic reforms during the first five years of independence, the state monopoly of the electronic media, and Russia's strong economic and political support of the Belarus's authoritarian leader.

Keywords: authoritarianism; autocracy; Belarus; constitution; constitutionalism; democratic consolidation; democratic opposition; Lukashenka; presidency; Russia

Chapter.  10175 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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