Belarusian authorities target specific social groups to ensure their loyalty before elections

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September 05, 2016 9:36
Image: Radyjo Racyja

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.

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