The population is willing to vote but remains politically inactive
The election campaign is following the traditional path with a slight increase in pro-state public institutions’ activities. Regardless of the citizen’s high readiness to vote, the electoral political activity in the country is extremely low.
On August 13th finished the next stage of the election campaign: signatures collection in support of Deputy Candidates. The Candidates’ registration will be completed by August 23rd.
As of August 14, there were 494 applicants for the status of a candidate, including 21 current MPs.
Political parties proposed the largest number of candidates - 264, citizens put forward 223 candidates through the signature’s collection, 111 candidates were put forward from labor groups. Among political parties, the most active is the Liberal Democratic Party (93 nominees), the United Civil Party (48), the Belarusian Popular Front (33) and the Belarusian Left Party “Fair World” (32).
According to the CEC Head Mrs. Yarmoshyna, during the candidates’ registration their number will shrink significantly because the quality of submitted applications (documents, tax forms, signatures) is low. According to the CEC, in 2008, one-fourth of all applications had been rejected.
During this campaign youth organization Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) is very active. The organization has already announced several national information campaigns, inter alia, “The Young Voter Day” and has set up a network of elections HQs in the regions.
Presumably, the purpose of these BRSM actions is to mobilize young people to participate in the election campaign. As noted earlier, two other organizations are responsible for the mobilization of the adult population – Belarusian Federation of Trade Unions and “Belaya Rus” quango.
IISEPS’ June poll said the proportion of citizens willing to vote is quite high - 50.7% respondent said ‘yes’. At the same time, 19.4% were not planning to vote, and 29.9% were undecided. At the same time, opposition parties and social movements note very low citizen’s activity they encountered during the signatures’ collection process.
Political apathy of the population is part of the state policy and the basis of the regime’s stability. Voting is considered a ritual obligation. It is anticipated that in September the authorities will start an active mobilization campaign using state media and quangos, which will increase the turnout at the polling stations.
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.