Opposition: steps towards consolidation
On 11 April the National Coordinating Council of the Democratic Forces of Belarus adopted a statement regarding the “conditions for the participation of the Belarusian democratic forces in the election campaigns”.
In the statement, the Council members demanded to release all political prisoners, to cease political repressions in the country, to respect constitutional rights and freedoms, to reform the electoral system and particularly underlined the reservation of their right to boycott the upcoming election campaign if the demands they put forward were not fulfilled.
The statement should be regarded as an important step towards the likely consolidation of the alternative political forces in Belarus after the 2010 Presidential election campaign. The collective boycott strategy could become a strong argument while making the authorities listen to the demands of the opposition, given it could be implemented. In the past decade this strategy has been regularly discussed however was never implemented to the extent, when the governmental candidate could find him/herself in a situation of no alternative.
The potential boycott of elections by the opposition is doubtful. In fact, the history and inner logic of the opposition movement in Belarus shows that the strategy of boycotting the elections is the most difficult to carry out. The last three presidential campaigns since 2001 demonstrate that the opposition has been consistently breaking up its participation in the elections: from the single candidate in 2001 to two candidates in 2006 and seven candidates in 2010.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.