“People’s Referendum” takes lead in nominating "single candidate" from opposition
The "People’s Referendum" campaigners are becoming the pivot point for determining the democratic forces’ strategy for the 2015 presidential campaign. Most likely, candidates will be nominated by opposition party blocks or individual political parties. However, if there are several candidates from the opposition, the candidate who is supported by the ‘People’s Referendum’ campaigners will be the main leader in the 2015 presidential race.
Five opposition parties and organizations signed an agreement on the nomination procedure for a single candidate from the opposition in the 2015 presidential elections. They are: "Tell the Truth!" campaign, "For Freedom" movement, the BPF party, BCD and Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada). The Congress of Democratic Forces is scheduled for March 28th, 2015, but the organizers consider May 2015 as the most probable timing for the event.
During the past six months, the opposition leaders have been unable to reach an agreement on the procedures for nominating members to the Congress of Democratic Forces, at which a "single opposition candidate" for the 2015 presidential election should be elected. The democratic forces have considered various options for electing members to the Congress: by holding primaries in the regions, through collecting signatures, at activists’ meetings, as well as by quotas for structures and VIPs. How Congress members are elected is important, as this could strengthen/weaken the position of one or another political party – which is why the opposition politicians have struggled to agree,.
This recent agreement only addresses the split in the opposition over the single opposition candidate nomination. On the one hand, the “People’s referendum" supporters (including "Tell the Truth!", the Social Democratic Party (Hramada), “For Freedom" movement and the BPF) and on the other – the United Civic Party and former communists "Fair World", with the Belarusian Christian Democracy in the middle. The BDC acts as a moderator in the negotiations, but inclines towards the “People’s Referendum” block.
The “People’s Referendum” block has named some possible contenders for the ‘single opposition candidate’ status, underscoring that the final decision would depend on how things develop. The candidate nominated by the ‘People’s Referendum’ campaign supporters will have the greatest chance of becoming the democratic opposition leader..
The ‘People’s Referendum’s main rival is the UCP – in May 2014 the UCP nominated its chairman, Anatol Lyabedzka, to contend for the single opposition candidate status. The UCP is also promoting the idea of holding primaries in the regions in order to determine the ‘single candidate’. During the local elections in 2014, the UCP attempted to hold primaries in Bobruisk, however their efforts were futile, as they said, due to pressure from the security services. The UCP also intended to hold primaries in Orsha in 2010, but failed to organise them.
In October 2014, the "People’s referendum" campaign initiators passed 50,000 signatures to Parliament. Signatories support a nationwide referendum on six issues,(identified by the initiators) to be held. If the UCP and ‘Fair World’ decide to quit negotiations over the single candidate nomination, the remaining five opposition structures will manage to carry out a full-fledged campaign independently, thanks to ongoing work with the population.
Most likely, various political structures will be prompted to seek a compromise with the signatories to the nomination agreement for a "single oppositional candidate". The candidate supported by the "People’s referendum" campaign initiators will be the key figure in determining the opposition’s strategy for the 2015 presidential campaign, even if there are several candidates from the opposition.
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.