New crisis and much tougher times ahead
14:04, — Politics
The results of the summer study of the Belarusian Analytic Workship were presented on 11 September in the Belarusian House in Warsaw.
Belarusian analysts presented results of interdisciplinary research that included social sphere, economic sphere and political science.
The experts analysed the situation in Belarus before the “parliamentary election” scheduled for September.
Sociologist Andrei Vardamatski showed the results of the regular remote social study of public opinion regarding the modernization project for Belarus and the nation’s attitude to the parliamentary election.
- The coming ”parliamentary election” characterizes the incumbent regime as an ”imitative democracy”. This term belongs to Associate Professor of Political Science from Stanford University Beatriz Magaloni. Regimes of this type exist only because they are accepted and approved by Western investors, since imitation of democracy seems more stable to them.
Vardamatski’s first research block was focused on the personality of a potential candidate.
As the research showed, more people want to see deputies with alternatives ideas compared to the previous election.
- Having to choose between two candidates – one from the private sector and one from the state sector – an average Belarusian voter will pick the state sector candidate. But voters are not likely to choose managers of state-owned enterprises before ordinary employees. Moreover, voters are willing to see certain novelty in the parliament. This shows that the authorities that currently occupy parliamentary posts haven’t met the people’s expectations, and that voters want change, the sociologist says.
Economist Leanid Zlotnikau focused on the economic situation in the country. According to Zlotnikau, even if the government succeeds to raise salaries to the promised $500, it is impossible to keep incomes at this level, which will inevitably result in a crisis similar to that of 2011.
- The government will be able to keep salaries at that level and avoid a new devaluation only if the economy is liberalized and privatization begins, but this variant is almost impossible since the government is not willing to change the course.
- An important outcome of the recent crisis was an increase in the income gap and hence stronger social stratification, Zlotnikau pointed out. – During the last seven months there’s been a 17% increase in the population’s actual incomes. The increase became possible only because the National bank had stopped giving loans of commercial banks, which resulted in partial decrease of inflation and increase in incomes. And although in general the incomes have increased, the differentiation is significant. 50% of the Belarusians earn less than BR 3 mln, while the other 50% earn more. The stratification is becoming more evident, and I don’t think it will decrease since I cannot see the social politics that would prevent it.
Political scientist Paval Vusau limited the political element of the study to the coming “parliamentary election”.
- The ”election” has turned into a soap opera with unchangeable actors, and the result of this endless process is known from the very beginning, Vusau pointed out.
According to Vusau, the regime will not change its internal mechanism and will not ease the political control, simply because the powers don’t need to change the mechanisms that they’ve built in Belarus.
Further in his presentation, the political scientist emphasized that the hopes of some of the oppositional groups to be elected to the “parliament” are unreal.
- When the regime is ruling the country, there is no point waiting for changes. The best strategy in this situation is to boycott, at least to moral reasons.
The electoral campaign’s only intrigue is whether the opposition candidates will leave the race. And although it is important only for the democratic society, and not for the population in general, the opposition will be able to keep its face if its candidates leave the election campaign.
Vusau remarked that there is significant difference between the current campaign and the 2008 campaign.
- The main difference is the endless repressions and unprecedented pressure on the candidates. As we all know, many of the candidates haven’t even got the opportunity to speak on live television, which means that there will be no liberalization in the near future.