Belarusian Yearbook is a long-term joint project of the expert community of Belarus. This publication is an annual integral analysis of the essential spheres of the state and society. Belarusian Yearbook2012 reflects the limited socio-political and economic dynamics of Belarus, limited to the effect that the fundamental framework of the country’s development remains invariable – self-preservation of the authoritarian personalistic regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
In the sphere of state authority (government) almost all analysts observe the increasing tendency of the Presidential Administration to monopolize governmental (administrative), legislative, political, ideological and other functions, its attempts to substitute governmental structures, including the Foreign Ministry and the parliament. Since December 2012, a number of authority powers have been redistributed in favour of law-enforcement bodies, which have subjugated the judicial brunch. Therefore, the tendency of “narrowing of the state” described in the 2011 issue– when the decision-making authority is being concentrated in hands of a gradually narrowing group of people who bear no responsibility for implementing the decisions – continued to develop.
Parliamentary elections 2012 proved that the system of electoral manipulations is stable and the authorities retain total control over the election process.Democratic forces failed to reach unity and benefit from the parliamentary elections, which questions their ability to take advantage of the presidential election 2015 for political transformations.
Concentration of power resulted in the deficit of technical, financial and personnel resources that are essential for the burning political and economic reforms. The authorities hesitate to abandon the model of “a socially-oriented state” but develop no integral plan of the country’s development, which results in narrowing the zone of the state’s social responsibility, i. e. spontaneous commercialization of public services (education, health care, etc.) and gradual reduction of social transfers.
Sociologists observe that the population tend to adapt to the economic conditions that formed after the triple devaluation of 2011. Despite the attempts to curb the financial crisis and raise the income of the population, electoral ratings and the level of the confidence in the authorities have stagnated. Besides, sociologists register growing pro-European and reducing pro-Russian moods.
The year 2012 is the year of “inertial” post-crisis 1 development of Belarus. The economic crisis as a form of painful remedy against the accumulated macroeconomic disproportions did not resolve the basic problems of the Belarusian socio-economic model, whereas the positive effects of the devaluation of the national currency were exhausted already in the first six months. Having no better strategy, the economic authorities returned to the “time-tested” policy of inflationary growth. All other critical tendencies that formed in 2010–2011 were curbed in the similar manner, i. e. by attempts to restore the previous situation (the conventional “restoration point” is December 2010).
The major trends of the year 2012 are the following:
- Institutional transformations: “narrowing of the state,” increasing role of the Presidential Administration and security agencies;
- Imbalances in state authority: uncoordinated actions of the Presidential Administration, the government and the National Bank;
- Crisis of the state policy that shows itself in failure to propose a minimal program of reforms and any program for the future whatsoever;
- Increasing foreign-policy and economic dependence of Belarus on Russia;
- Narrowing social obligations of the state;
- Stagnation of electoral ratings and indicators of confidence in the authorities;
- Return to the pre-crisis policy of increasing incomes, search for new sources of long-term growth;
- Reduction of able-bodied population, increased temporal labor migration, outflow of manpower.
Contributing to this Yearbook were independent analysts and experts, as well as specialists representing various think tanks, including the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), the Institute for Political Studies Palitycnaja Sfiera (Political Sphere), the Research Center of the Institute for Privatization and Management, the Agency of Humanitarian Technologies, NOVAK Axiometrical Research Laboratory, the Belarusian Analytical Workshop (Warsaw, Poland), the Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS), the Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC), the Centre for Eastern Studies (Warsaw, Poland), the Polesski Fund of International and Regional Studies (Chernihiv, Ukraine), eBelarus Research Center, Agency for Social and Political Appraisal, the website of the expert community of Belarus Nashe Mnenie (Our opinion).