Elections under comfortable conditions: economic stability and depoliticized opponents
The ruling class anticipates conducting the election campaign in favorable economic conditions, with a rising GDP. In the meantime, the regime’s enforcers have succeeded in depoliticizing supporters of democratic forces through widespread repression and diminishing the influence of independent media on the agenda.
The World Bank has significantly improved its outlook for the Belarusian economy, upgrading it from 0.6% to 3% GDP growth. The ruling class intends to continue its measures to sustain economic development. This includes injecting funds into the public sector through tax and penalty redistribution from private businesses, boosting state employee salaries to uphold domestic demand, and implementing manual price regulation.
The ruling class is actively imposing restrictive measures on the private sector. Officials plan to bolster legal restrictions for individual entrepreneurs and raise tax rates for them.
The ruling class is also amplifying the role of the state in income redistribution among the population. The authorities are banking on increased tax revenue, particularly from highly paid workers, often employed by private companies. The loyalty of these workers is often questioned by the Belarusian leadership. Officials are considering raising the income tax rate from 13% to 25% for those earning over BYN 200,000 annually.
Lukashenka’s controllers are increasing the budget through levies on private businesses. Tax officials compelled a carrier company in Mahiliou to make additional income tax payments to the state budget.
Additionally, the ruling class continues to purge potentially disloyal employees from the public sector.
The Belarusian leadership is relying on inflows into the Belarusian economy as a result of Kremlin investments in projects, such as aircraft construction.
Lukashenka’s government is gradually reducing social benefits for various segments of the population. Propagandists are beginning to prepare public opinion for potential changes in support for large families. The ruling class is strengthening the ideological component of budgetary support for parents with many children. The Order of the Mother will be awarded only to ideologically loyal women.
The ruling class will prepare the groundwork for electoral mobilization and ideological work with state employees, public sector workers, and pensioners. Positive economic trends are creating favorable conditions for the ruling class to campaign in the parliamentary and local council elections scheduled for February 2024.
In this way, the ruling class can return to populist rhetoric ahead of the elections, strengthening loyalty and mobilizing its supporters in the public sector.
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Situation in Belarus