One round only in Belarusian presidential elections
Political sentiments of Belarusians as recorded by the IISEPS national poll on September 2nd - 12th, enable the prediction that more than half of the voters would come to the polling stations and that the majority of those who come would vote for the incumbent president. Tatsiana Karatkevich would be the second. Protests are unlikely.
The national poll was conducted before the campaigning stage kicked off. Apparently, campaigning may somewhat influence voters’ behaviour, but not in a crucial way. Based on the past IISEPS polls during the presidential campaigns, the agitation stage has influenced only circa 10-15% of the voters. In addition, during the 2010 elections, the IISEPS poll suggested that circa 30% would vote not for Lukashenka, which included all other candidates and ‘against all’ candidate. It is likely that in the 2015 campaign, this one-third may be distributed between Karatkevich, Gaidukevich, and Ulakhovich in favour of Karatkevich (approximately 15-20%).
Answers to the question: “On July 20th, the CEC completed the registration of initiative groups to nominate candidates for the presidency. If the names of the following politicians will be on the ballot, for whom would you vote?"
Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus - 45.7%
Tatiana Karatkevich, the candidate of the civil campaign "People’s Referendum" - 17.9%
Sergei Gaydukevich, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party - 11.4%
Viktor Tereshchenko, economist - 8.1%
Nikolai Ulakhovich, Belarusian Cossacks Ataman - 3.6%
No answer -13.3%
Given the promotion of the ‘boycott’ and ‘neglecting’ of the elections by some democratic forces, the IISEPS has dedicated a special report regarding the effectiveness of this kind of campaign. The IISEPS notes that the willingness to vote in the presidential elections has gradually decreased since 2001, and in 2015 reached 72.5%, which is significantly lower than in 2011 (88.4%), but higher than in June 2015 (71.4%). The IISEPS also notes that the share of the supporters of the ‘boycott’ (15.5%) is lower than those who do not plan to come to the polling stations (23.8%).
IISEPS sociologists have noted the growing fatalism among Belarusian voters. For instance, the dynamics of answers to the question "If you believe that the results of the presidential elections were rigged, what are you likely to do?" to which the answer is “I will accept it, because it cannot be changed” started with 37.1% in 2006 and reached 48.6% in 2015. Moreover, the IISEPS notes, that Lukashenka’s opponents are more confident that the election results are predetermined (74.5%) than his supporters (46.2%).
In addition, the IISEPS has noted yet another eloquent detail in the current election campaign - despite the fact that only 32.4% of respondents had received campaign materials for any candidate or have met candidates representatives, 43% of respondents said they had enough information to make a confident choice. For comparison, in 2010, 50.7% saw candidates’ campaign materials, but only 31.7% believed that the information was sufficient to make the choice.
Overall, IISEPS sociologists have confidently concluded that the turnout will be achieved, that the elections will be held in one round, that Lukashenka will win and that the majority of voters will accept his fresh lease of power.
The rapid increase in wages has led to a decline in the ratio between labour productivity and real wages to one. Previously, the rule was that enterprises, in which the state owned more than 50% of shares in the founding capital, were not allowed increasing salaries if this ratio was equal to or less than one. The authorities are unlikely to be able to meet the wage growth requirement without long-term consequences for the economy. Hence, the government is likely to contain wage growth for the sake of economic growth.
According to Belstat, In January – August 2017, GDP growth was 1.6%. The economic revival has led to an increase in wages. In August, the average monthly wage was BYN 844.4 or USD 435, i.e. grew by 6.6% since early 2017, adjusted for inflation. This has reduced the ratio between labour productivity and real wages from 1.03 in January 2017 to 1 in the first seven months of 2017. This parameter should not be less than 1, otherwise, the economy starts accumulating imbalances.
The need for faster growth in labour productivity over wage growth was stated in Decree No 744 of July 31st, 2014. The decree enabled wages growth at state organizations and organizations with more than 50% of state-owned shares only if the ratio between growth in labour productivity and wages was higher than 1. Taking into account the state's share in the economy, this rule has had impact on most of the country's key enterprises. In 2013 -2014 wages grew rapidly, which resulted in devaluation in 2014-2015.
Faster wage growth as compared with growth in labour productivity carries a number of risks. Enterprises increase cost of wages, which subsequently leads to a decrease in the competitiveness of products on the domestic and foreign markets. In construction, wholesale, retail trade, and some other industries the growth rate of prime cost in 2017 outpaces the dynamics of revenue growth. This is likely to lead to a decrease in profits and a decrease in investments for further development. Amid wage growth, the population is likely to increase import consumption and reduce currency sales, which would reduce the National Bank's ability to repay foreign and domestic liabilities.
The Belarusian government is facing a dilemma – either to comply with the president’s requirement of a BYN 1000 monthly wage, which could lead to new economic imbalances and could further affect the national currency value, or to suspend the wage growth in order to retain the achieved economic results. That said, the first option bears a greater number of negative consequences for the nomenclature.
Overall, the rapid growth in wages no longer corresponds the pace of economic development. The government is likely to retain the economic growth and retrain further growth in wages. Staff reshuffles are unlikely to follow the failure to meet the wage growth requirement.