Election offices had hardly closed in Belarus on Sunday evening, as the chairman of the National Election Committe proclaimed that Lukashenka had got some 90% of votes in the presidential elections. This is utterly ludicrous and makes Lukashenka ever more an object of ridicule. Reality, however, makes one see that this is no laughing matter.
It is quite obvious, that these "preliminary results" was more an act of flattery than "real" figures. All the same, as official results were proclaimed, it turned out that Lukashenka had received an overwhelming 82.6% of votes, as compared to the 6% of his main contender, Milinkevich. Election fraud is too poor a word to describe this. It is simply an outrage of unprecedented character and an indication of how far Lukashenka has entered the realms of megalomania. As for actual results, little is known. The Russian Levada Centre is probably the most correct in attributing Lukashenka some 50% of the votes as opposed to 25% to Milinkevich. As these figures indicate, there is little doubt that Lukashenka, at least presently, would win a free and fair election. So, why cheat? The answer is probably that Lukashenka is so full of himself that he knows no other way than to deceive himself and the populace.
Still, the election campaign has in some ways been quite intriguing. Lukashenka has in an alarmist and high-pitched tone warned for western-supported coup attempts and the likes of it. From the looks of it, this seems like either paranoia or a government-run attempt at gathering further support for Lukashenka by producing an external threat. Let us, however, pause for a moment to hypothesize on other options. Has the regime perceived - instead of pretended - that there was a real threat to their power? If so, there might have been three possible sources of such a threat: domestic opposition within and outside the regime, the West, and Russia.
As for open opposition, claims have been made that Aleksandr Kozulin's candidacy for president was staged by Lukashenka in order to split the opposition and support for its main candidate, Milinkevich. Potential opposition within the regime is much harder to speculate on. Most analysts would probably rule out such a possibility, but at least some of Lukashenka's stooges must realise that this cannot go on forever. Any palace coup might only have succeeded with the support or consent of Moscow. Therefore, if pursuing such an argument, this would mean that Moscow might have considered an alternative to Lukashenka. It is well-known that Putin has met with representatives of the Belarusian opposition, but it is also widely held in Moscow that the option of supporting the opposition has been ruled out as unrealistic. However, one might go on with such speculation by asking whether Kozulin was Moscow's man if things with Lukashenka would have got out of hand. The third option, viz. that of a western threat, is on an equally unrealistic level. Western support would certainly have played a limited role in an overthrow of Lukashenka, just like it did during Ukraine's orange revolution. However, as domestic opposition - in all respects - seems unable to make such a move, such speculation leads nowhere.
It is somewhat noteworthy that opposition protesters on Minsk Oktyabrskaya Square have largely been left in peace by the police so far. That the sit-in already is falling prey to a sort of gradual dispersement by the police is quite obvious. This must however be compared to previous official statements that any unsanctioned protests would be heavily cracked down on and demonstrators tried for terrorism. Is Lukashenka feeling so safe as to allow this or are other factors at play? For now nobody knows, and it will thus be all the more interesting to follow as events evolve.
As for Lukashenka, he might now quote a more august leader: Acta est fabula, plaudite! (the play is over, applaud!), at least for this time. With a little luck, Lukashenka will also face his political death in due course, and there will be little place in history for him. For nobody really believes that Lukashenka will be able to continue indefinitely under the motto: "Together towards a strong and prosperous Belarus!"