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 country's leadership has instructed the local authorities to raise minimum wages at enterprises by the end of 2019 to BYN 1,000, which would lead to an increase in the average wage in the economy as a whole to BYN 1 500. The pace of wage growth in 2017 is insufficient to ensure payroll at BYN 1000 by late 2017 without manipulating statistical indicators. In order to fulfil the president’s order, the government would have to increase budgetary expenditures on wages in healthcare and education, enterprises – to carry out further layoffs and expand the practice of taking loans to pay wages and restrict investment in modernisation of fixed assets. In 2010, the artificial increase in wages led to a threefold devaluation in 2011, an increase in the average salary to BYN 1500 will not match the capabilities of the economy and would lead to yet another devaluation.