The opposition is more active in the regions on the eve of local elections
Belarusian opposition forces have continued their campaign in the regions this week.
Despite the ‘dead’ holiday season, the approaching elections to the local councils activate the opposition and increase competition in the political arena of the country. The most visible effect of these actions of the opposition is growing recognition and strengthening of regional opposition structures. Success of the opposition is still defined by the feedback or nonfeasance of the authorities.
Representatives of the civic campaign ‘Tell the Truth’, movement ‘For Freedom’ and the Belarusian Popular Front continued canvassing in the regions as a part of the campaign ‘National Referendum’. In particular, two groups visited a number of cities in the Brest region and met with local market traders and democratic activists. The initiators of the ‘National Referendum’ campaign ask citizens to establish a register of problematic socio-economic and political issues that need to be solved at the national level: tax rates, wages, the quality of public services, the reform of the electoral system etc.
The organisational committee of the ‘Belarusian Christian Democracy’ party has commenced two initiatives: the establishment of the community headquarters against African swine fever and campaign to protect the rights of taxi drivers. The foundation of the community headquarters against ASF coincided with the time when residents of so-called buffer sanitary zones had to liquidate the pigstock as ordained by the government. Because of this, for example, a spontaneous unrest of local residents took place in the Berezovsk rayon (province) of the Brest region. The second initiative of the BCD is related to the probable drafting of the government bill on new rules of organisation of taxi services that could affect the requirements as regards technical parameters of motor vehicles.
The positive impact of these initiatives can be seen at least in the geographical expansion of the activities of the opposition and creation of competing political projects (the project ‘National Referendum’ by ‘the triad’ and the ‘National Deputy’ project of the BCD). This intensification of activity is related to upcoming elections to local councils, as this election campaign is the most local in nature, which forces activists to act away from the capital and regional centers - the main areas of activity of the opposition during parliamentary and presidential campaigns.
The future of the above projects will become clearer when they move from the planning to the implementation stage. Namely, when and whether the initiators of the ‘National Referendum’ campaign will form a list of issues and start gathering signatures, and the initiators of the ‘National Deputy’ programme will actively represent the interests of the pigs’ owners and taxi drivers. The future of these initiatives will be determined by the feedback of the citizens.
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.