Dictatorship--Europe--Case studies and Political culture--Belarus--History
This book is the first in English to explore both Belarus's complicated road to nationhood and to examine in detail its politics and economics since 1991, the nation's first year of true independence. Andrew Wilson focuses particular attention on Aliaksandr Lukashenka's surprising longevity as president, despite human rights abuses and involvement in yet another rigged election in December 2010.Wilson looks at Belarusian history as a series of false starts in the medieval and pre-modern periods, and at the many rival versions of Belarusian identity, culminating with the Soviet Belarusian project and the establishment of Belarus's current borders during World War II. He also addresses Belarus's on-off relationship with Russia, its simultaneous attempts to play a game of balance in the no-man's-land between Russia and the West, and how, paradoxically, Belarus is at last becoming a true nation under the rule of Europe's “last dictator.”
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Belarus continues to be highly vulnerable to economic shocks, as was illustrated by the turbulence in foreign exchange and debt markets in late 2014. Frequent bouts of expansionary macroeconomic policies, in a context of deep structural rigidities, have fueled inflation and external imbalances and left Belarus dependent on ad hoc external support. In 2015, growth has slowed sharply as high uncertainty, reductions in real incomes, administrative measures, and declining trade with Russia weighed on activity. The outlook is for a recession and continued external pressures. With Russia in a downturn, the Belarusian economy is projected to contract by 2.25 percent in 2015, led by falling exports.