An Evolving Asian-European Dialogue
Edited by Stein Kuhnle, Per Selle and Sven E.O. Hort
Chapter 17: An authoritarian-populist welfare state? Reassessing the ‘Belarusian model’ in comparative perspective
This chapter focuses on the case of Belarus, but reaches beyond the limits of contemporary welfare regime thinking. It points at some shortcomings in the general achievements of conventional comparative welfare state research (CWSR) by returning to a typology briefly outlined in Harold Wilensky’s classical work The Welfare State and Equality, in particular his emphasis on the existence of an authoritarian-populist welfare model. In light of more recent general developments in the post-Soviet world, the seldom-exposed case of the welfare state in the new, post-Soviet nation-state of Belarus is scrutinized. Compared to, for instance, war-torn Ukraine, only gradually has Belarus left behind the Soviet legacies. Historically the transformation of the Soviet welfare model and the emergence of a different route to ‘post-socialism’ is the object of the analysis of the institutions of education, health, housing and welfare (including old-age pensions) in this borderland between Europe and Russia. In focus are incremental change and the slow development of privatized welfare. The significance of this analysis definitely extends beyond the borders of this particular region at a time when the authoritarian-populist tide is on the rise, from France and the Netherlands to Hungary and Poland, restoring a theme of considerable interest in other neighbouring countries of Belarus such as Latvia and Lithuania.
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