The ruling group attempts to restore 2010 state of affairs
On July 11th, a presentation of the 2012 Belarusian Yearbook was held in Minsk.
A comprehensive independent analysis of political and economic developments in Belarus in 2012 shows that the authorities are trying to use public administration tools from before the 2011 financial crisis. This increases the chance of a new crisis.
The latest edition of the Belarusian Yearbook 2012 contains articles written by 32 experts about recent developments in the state, society, economy, foreign policy and culture. The authors have outlined the following most significant trends.
In public administration, the “narrowing of the state” process is observed: the most important management functions are carried out by an ever-narrower range of bodies and individual officials. The Presidential Administration is clearly gaining influence and is taking over the government’s functions, in particular, of the Foreign Ministry and the Parliament. State policy is losing its consistency, and the system is functioning more poorly.
Recent parliamentary elections demonstrated that the Belarusian opposition is unable to adequately coordinate their actions and to provide substantial resistance to the authorities and to affect the course and outcomes of the election campaign. The election process is totally controlled by the ruling group which reduces chances for the 2015 presidential election to change the current political system.
The social sphere also suffers from the ‘narrowing of the state’. The state’s social responsibility vis-à-vis citizens is narrowing, manifested in the commercialization of medical care and education, and in reduced social benefits.
Against this background, paradoxically (but quite typical for Belarusian citizens) the population has adjusted to sharply deteriorated living standards since 2011. Belarusians’ willingness to protest against government policies is still low, but Lukashenko’s rating stagnated at circa 30%.
Economic policy returned to the 2010 inflationary growth model. However, in 2011 this model triggered the financial crisis which had a dramatic impact on the population’s living standards, and also reduced the manageability of the state apparatus. Therefore, the likelihood of the 2011 crisis’ repetition has increased.
The Belarusian Yearbook is a long-term joint project of the Belarusian and international expert community. The Yearbook is an annual publication which offers comprehensive analysis of the situation in major segments of the Belarusian state and society.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.