Belarusian power spent the year 2013 in desperate attempts to increase efficiency of economy at the expense of technical modernization of state enterprises. But the only noticeable results of these efforts were multibillion losses (expressed in dollars).
In 2014 it was decided to move from total modernization to pin-point modernization. This guaranteed a loss decrease, but however it didn’t solve the issue of economy efficiency increase. That is why in order to address the more and more acute external and internal challenges the power turned to ideas from the arsenal of soviet nomenklatura like tightening of discipline.
Since April A. Lukashenko threatened his inner circle with a “severe, tough, but just decree”. However, there was a delay in preparation of the decree, so the head of state managed to sign it only on the 12th of December.
There is no need of multibillion investments for tightening of discipline. And this is its indubitable advantage over modernization. War on corruption has the same advantage. During September survey 56.3% of respondents were positive about strengthening of control over the incomes of officials and their relatives.
One more power’s initiative also found active support. This time we talk about “social parasites” offensive (graph 1).
We recommend you to pay attention to the last row of the table (DA/NA): only 1.7% of respondents had difficulties with answering this question. In other words there is a clear vision in society in regards to the set of repressive measures which should be taken against social parasites.
Almost all of power’s appeals to soviet experience of struggling for the increase of economic efficiency find understanding and support among majority of Belarusians. The following statement of now former Prime Minister M. Myasnikovich is not an exception (table 1).
Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “Prime-minister M. Myasnikovich stated that “the main problem of Belarusian economy lies in helpless and passive leaders, who cannot do anything without directions from the top”. Do you agree with this?”, %
Variant of answer
All respondents
Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Don’t trust
Approval from A. Lukashenko’s supporters is quite natural. The topic of careless leaders is probably mentioned in every single speech of Belarusian “batka” on economic issues. But even among his opponents absolute majority of respondents agrees that “main problem of Belarusian economy lies in helpless and passive leaders”.
The fact, that this problem was promoted to the class of main problems by very nature of authoritarian model of management, constructed by A. Lukashenko, is beyond the limits of reflexive abilities of public opinion.
More than once A. Lukashenko addressed the problem of retirement age rising in his public speeches in 2014. The problem is pending since long ago. The number of people involved in economy constantly decreases, while the number of retired people on the contrary increases. The only real way out of this situation is the rise of retirement age. Especially taking into account the fact that in European countries it was raised up to 65 years.
The head of state explains the European standard lagging by readiness of Belarusians to receive low pensions under the conditions that Soviet norms of retirement age are maintained. Let us restrict ourselves to one quotation, taken on the BELTA-site: “President thinks that retirement age should have been risen long ago. But you don’t want it. And I’ve promised you that before doing that we would listen to your opinion. But remember: the size of pensions will be corresponding” (September 19, 2014).
December survey confirmed validity of A. Lukashenko’s references to public opinion (graph 2). Belarusians think that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. A lot of them won’t live up to the retirement age. First of all this concerns men: their life expectancy amounted to 66.6 years in 2012.
Political elite’s appeal to the heritage of soviet nomenklatura instead of elaboration of new ideas is a classic example of archaisation. But Belarusian power didn’t come out of the Ark. In 1994 majority of Belarusians voted for it on a non-democratic elections. The majority had a choice between a European way of development and a return to the past, and they had chosen the latter, i.e. the archaisation. And they constantly confirm their adherence to this choice.