“Innovative Approaches to Building Market-Based Democratic Values”

The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the collapse of totalitarianism in Eastern Europe. Following a brief upsurge of democratic promise in the early 1990s, some countries in the region, like Belarus, have experienced a drastic democratic backslide. Opposition leaders, independent journalists, and business owners have faced relentless harassment in the midst of an increasingly oppressive political atmosphere and human rights violations. The economy has also suffered under increasing government encroachment.

In this Feature Service article, Jaroslav Romanchuk, Director of the Analytical Center “Strategy,” and Elena Suhir, Program Officer for Eurasia at CIPE, talk about why – and how – good governance has to be rooted in a process and engagement that includes wide-scale stakeholder participation through concrete communication channels. In Belarus, difficult conditions have served as a wake-up call for the business community to organize, protect its rights, and advocate for reform. Some entrepreneurs have used street demonstrations to successfully challenge the government on policy issues, while other businesses have joined associations as an intermediary to defend their rights. This innovative approach to reform – consensus-based business advocacy coalitions advocating for economic freedom – has produced positive results.

Article at a Glance

  • Good governance is rooted in a process and engagement that includes wide-scale stakeholder participation through concrete communication channels.
  • Consensus-based coalitions formed around a set of tangible, reform-oriented priorities are a fundamental, pragmatic component of successful advocacy.
  • Successful public-private dialogues are based on a positive spirit of mutual respect and concrete recommendations for reform.
  • Strategic partnerships between pro-market think tanks and business associations committed to reform are essential for successful policy-based and grassroots advocacy efforts.

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