The ruling group attempts to restore 2010 state of affairs
On July 11th, a presentation of the 2012 Belarusian Yearbook was held in Minsk.
A comprehensive independent analysis of political and economic developments in Belarus in 2012 shows that the authorities are trying to use public administration tools from before the 2011 financial crisis. This increases the chance of a new crisis.
The latest edition of the Belarusian Yearbook 2012 contains articles written by 32 experts about recent developments in the state, society, economy, foreign policy and culture. The authors have outlined the following most significant trends.
In public administration, the “narrowing of the state” process is observed: the most important management functions are carried out by an ever-narrower range of bodies and individual officials. The Presidential Administration is clearly gaining influence and is taking over the government’s functions, in particular, of the Foreign Ministry and the Parliament. State policy is losing its consistency, and the system is functioning more poorly.
Recent parliamentary elections demonstrated that the Belarusian opposition is unable to adequately coordinate their actions and to provide substantial resistance to the authorities and to affect the course and outcomes of the election campaign. The election process is totally controlled by the ruling group which reduces chances for the 2015 presidential election to change the current political system.
The social sphere also suffers from the ‘narrowing of the state’. The state’s social responsibility vis-à-vis citizens is narrowing, manifested in the commercialization of medical care and education, and in reduced social benefits.
Against this background, paradoxically (but quite typical for Belarusian citizens) the population has adjusted to sharply deteriorated living standards since 2011. Belarusians’ willingness to protest against government policies is still low, but Lukashenko’s rating stagnated at circa 30%.
Economic policy returned to the 2010 inflationary growth model. However, in 2011 this model triggered the financial crisis which had a dramatic impact on the population’s living standards, and also reduced the manageability of the state apparatus. Therefore, the likelihood of the 2011 crisis’ repetition has increased.
The Belarusian Yearbook is a long-term joint project of the Belarusian and international expert community. The Yearbook is an annual publication which offers comprehensive analysis of the situation in major segments of the Belarusian state and society.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.