Belarusian People’s Republic’s white-red-white flag may become historical value
The Liberal Democratic Party has proposed to award the white-red-white flag with the status of a historical and cultural value, which may become an additional argument to legitimize the national symbols of the first Belarusian state. Most likely, next year, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People's Republic, the government could legitimise its national symbols.
It is unlikely that the leader of the LDPB was the mouthpiece of the authorities and in some way coordinated his proposal. However, as an experienced politician, Sergei Gaidukevich could see the desire of the authorities to add stability to the Belarusian state, including by co-opting national symbols and otherwise ignored fragments of the national history.
The white-red-white flag, the state flag of the first Belarusian state, the Belarusian People's Republic (1918), was proclaimed the national flag of Belarus in 1991 until 1995. In 1995, President Lukashenka held a referendum, which replaced the white-red-white flag with a red-green flag and a coat of arms designed after the state symbols of the Byelorussian SSR. Lukashenka changed the state symbols in order to strengthen his positions in the struggle against the parliament, and after the Soviet symbols were returned, the white-red-white flag became personified with the democratic opposition. As authoritarianism strengthened in Belarus, the law enforcement agencies started interpreting the white-red-white flag as an "anti-state symbol”.
However, in recent years, the Belarusian authorities, in line with the common desire to strengthen state independence, have taken some steps (albeit inconsistent) towards national reconciliation, including the recognition of some historical fragments and national symbols. The Belarusian opposition also insists on recognizing the national symbols - the flag and the coat of arms - as a historical and cultural value. For example, former presidential candidate Tatyana Korotkevich in 2015 handed over a white-red-white flag to the Museum of Belarusian Statehood and started a petition to recognise it as a historical and cultural value. In 2016, Young Front leader, Dzmitser Dashkevich, collected 10,000 signatures with a similar petition. Now LDPB leader and MP Sergei Gaidukevich has made the same appeal.
Next year, Belarus marks the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People's Republic. The Belarusian authorities could make concessions and recognize the white-red-white flag as a national historical value.
Amid budgetary cuts on social protection, the Belarusian public sector is experiencing a management crisis and a balance shift in the state resource redistribution system. The authorities are forced to revise their most unpopular decisions during the implementation due to the pressure from affected social groups. The state is unlikely to oppose to some civil society and opposition organisations in strengthening their role in society in order to retain touch with the population and to be able to respond to the most harsh criticism of state initiatives.
The Architecture and Construction Ministry has acknowledged that the decree No 585 on assistance to large and young families in building and buying housing was prematurely rescinded.
The authorities are often forced to revise their decisions on curtailing social assistance to different social groups during their implementation, without preliminary impact assessment and feedback from the population, so as they lead to the growth in social tension. Due to the centralised decision making, languishing state resources and the lack of public debate as a balancing instrument in issues related to social protection, the state administration is losing control of the population.
Perhaps, the compensatory mechanisms of the state apparatus lack the time to adjust to dwindling state resources for supporting the existing social model, even in a reduced form. The authorities have completely or partially paralysed operations of independent public institutions and representative bodies, through which they could monitor public moods and receive feedback from the population, such as local councils, the parliament, political parties and NGOs. Last year, under the pressure of the authorities, the last independent institute for measuring public sentiment, IISEPS, suspended operations.
President Lukashenka’s self-removal from the decision-making on current socio-economic issues, also could have affected the state apparatus’ operations. The president has always been very sensitive about adopting unpopular decisions which could lower his popular support, hence demanded a careful preliminary assessment of such decisions. However, recently, especially after the introduction of the tax on social dependants, the president has mainly focused on the foreign policy agenda.
Hence, a lacuna has formed in the state decision-making after the president reduced participation in the current socio-economic policy formation, which leads to an increase in manifestations of dysfunction in the public administration.