Belarusian authorities target specific social groups to ensure their loyalty before elections
The Belarusian authorities have resumed a moderate populist rhetoric about improving the well-being of particular social groups, preserving and somewhat enhancing social protection for their conventional electorate. In addition, the authorities are attempting to relieve tension in Belarusian society and reduce pressure on wallets of citizens from the most protest-prone social groups. However, the Belarusian leadership is unlikely to buy the loyalty of the electorate before the elections with wage growth.
The Belarusian government has decided to give bonuses to experienced teachers for organising extra-curricular classes.
As the parliamentary elections draw closer, the president is attempting to boost the loyalty among teachers of educational institutions, so as being members of commissions at the polling stations, they are the key elements in organising the elections. The authorities have announced additional fundraising, in an attempt to increase teachers’ salaries from extra-budgetary sources, such as funds reallocation from the private education sector to that of the state.
In addition, the authorities are attempting to reduce tension in some social groups with the highest protest potential. For instance, the authorities have promised milder fiscal pressure to those who work in the shadow economy and do not depend on the state. In exchange for political loyalty, the state has promised to broaden the legal frameworks for small private enterprises by introducing a patent system.
That said, the authorities promised changes in support for the unemployed and targeted increases in unemployment benefits. Due to the lifted restrictions on fuel exports, residents of the bordering regions, where unemployment is traditionally high, will be able to make some cash from cross-border trade.
To spite the criticism by oppositional candidates, the authorities said they had no plans to increase the retirement age in the coming years. In addition, as the president has no plans to raise pensions, he has promised to provide targeted state support to pensioners in paying for housing and communal services. The authorities thereby aspire to secure the turnout among pensioners.
The Belarusian authorities have refrained from traditionally high budget expenditure in order to buy the electorate with inflated incomes. Amid dwindling state resources, the Belarusian authorities aim to ensure the loyalty of their conventional electorate by promising future revisions of state support mechanisms.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.