The opposition cannot solve the problem of low political activity among Belarusians
On 24 March, an authorized demonstration was held by opposition forces in Minsk to mark the 95th anniversary of the Declaration of the Belarusian People’s Republic.
The small number of demonstration participants shows that the format of political activity traditionally offered by the opposition is losing popularity among Belarusians. What is more, Belarusian society is ignoring mobilization attempts made both by the opposition and the authorities.
According to various accounts, around 1,000 people took part in the demonstration, which is very small. The core of the demonstration appeared to be made up by sympathizers of the national-conservative wing of the opposition (Belarusian Popular Front, Belarusian Christian Democrats), for whom the most significant value of the historical date of the 95th anniversary is the declaration of the Belarusian People’s Republic’s independence [on March 25th, 1918]. This group most actively takes part in similar events.
It should be noted that the joint application to hold the action was made by political organizations - representatives of the Belarusian Popular Front, the United Civic Party, ‘For Freedom’ movement, and the organization committee for setting up the party ‘Belarusian Christian Democrats’.
On the one hand, this indicates the readiness of opposition forces to act jointly around symbolic events. On the other, there is a lack of agreement among the opposition as before regarding joint long-term political initiatives (e.g. in the run-up to the next local and presidential elections). In particular, the politicians who spoke at the meeting did not present a similar programme of joint activities.
An important organizational detail should be noted separately: organizers of the action were unable to agree with the authorities about the legal use of full sound systems and were forced to limit themselves to hand-held loud speakers, which brings future major actions into doubt.
As noted in summer 2012, the problem of low activity among Belarusians during election campaigns (and the low turnouts at electoral polls) also holds true for the opposition. What is more, the organization and the implementation of this demonstration shows that not only the authorities, but also the opposition are not yet able to mobilize significant groups of Belarusian citizens to participate in joint political actions.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.