What is the direction of development of political life in Belarus? Democracy. This is the most popular answer today (Table 1). More than a half of A. Lukashenko’s supporters think so (51.3%). But what does “democracy” mean in this case? Let us turn to the original source: “We don’t need a democracy with uproars. We need a kind of democracy when people work, get a salary in order to buy some bread, milk, sour cream, cheese, sometimes a piece of meat to feed a child and so on. Well, about meat, let’s don’t eat too much of it during the summer” (From a speech of A. Lukashenko to the workers of Minsk Automobile Plant, May 28, 1998).


This quoted definition may be reduced a short slogan: “True democracy – is a state-guaranteed standards of life”. But in 2011 ability of government to cope with the role of guarantor was doubted, and that has an immediate impact on the evaluations of political life of Belarus (Table 1). There was a decisive shift from democracy to chaos and anarchy (from 7.3% up to 19.5%) and a much smaller shift to authoritarianism and dictatorship (from 29.4% up to 31.7%).
The latter change didn’t exceed the statistical error. This stability needs some explanation. Terms of “authoritarianism” and “dictatorship” are ideologically charged. The survey of 2010 was conducted under the conditions of presidential race, and it is natural that society was politicized at the time. Thus in 2010 the main alternative for democracy was not politically neutral chaos, but authoritarianism and dictatorship.
The influence of presidential race can be clearly observed in Table 2 as well. In 2006 survey was conducted a month prior to the main day of elections. In 2010 survey was conducted right after the end of elections. Presidential elections in Belarus are traditionally accompanied by mass “bread distributions”. That is why there is nothing surprising that in the first and in the second columns the wish to maintain current situation overwhelms over the wish to change it.


We still have one year before the next presidential elections. Under the conditions of weak economical growth during the current year power will need to abandon the two-digit growth of real incomes, which became habitual for the citizens. However this social innovation doesn’t suit a majority of Belarusians. Thus the asymmetrical answers in comparison with”fat” 2006.
For a half of respondents elections are the most desirable variant of changes. Popularity of street protests is 6 times lower (Table 3). This ratio is the reflection of the Kiev’s Maidan lesson, which Belarusian society learned with the help of Russian propaganda.
Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which variant of changes do you consider most realistic and desirable in Belarus?” depending on attitude to A. Lukashenko, %
Variant of answer
All respondents
Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Don’t trust
Republican referendum
Street protests
Main supporters of street protests are naturally in the camp of the head of state opponents. Among street protests supporters 41.3% of respondents are in the age of 18-29 years old, 19.2% are people with higher education.
Popularity of elections is 2.3 times higher among the supporters of the head of state than among his opponents. This is quite natural, as majority of Belarusians, who don’t trust A. Lukashenko, do not consider elections honest and just. In this connection belief of the head of state’s opponents in a republican referendum looks quite strange.
Technologies of elections and referendums in Belarus have no principal differences. But the previous referendum was held 10 years ago, plus opposition constantly advances initiatives to carry out republican referendums. Probably this is the reason for the big difference between the evaluations of referendum as a source of changes made by supporters and opponents of the head of state.
The constantly high numbers of supporters of changes registered during sociological surveys shouldn’t be misleading. The need of changes is caused by the dissatisfaction of Belarusians with their financial standing, but this dissatisfaction is diffusive. It doesn’t generate solidarity between dissatisfied citizens and thus it doesn’t turn into joint protests.
Level of mutual trust in Belarus is one of the lowest in Europe (Table 4). The leaders of this rating are Scandinavian countries: Denmark – 66.5%, Sweden – 66.3% and so on.


Radius of trust is an important characteristic of mutual trust. In particular, short radius of trust means that people trust only other people they know, i.e. the representatives of a close circle. In Belarus the difference of trust index between two utmost age groups is almost two-fold: 18-29 years old – 20.5%, 60 years old and older – 43.2%. Even a bigger difference is observed between the groups with primary and higher education: primary education – 61.7%, higher education – 22%.
Thus active life involvement doesn’t promote trust to people around. They are mainly retired people who trust one another, because their contacts with strangers are minimal.
Trust level increase by 3.7 points in comparison with March 2013 exceeds the statistical error. This is another evidence of mobilization effect provoked by Russian propaganda. It formed a community feeling of… TV-watchers. Thus it is not surprising that all contribution to the growth of trust was made by people from the older age group: March 2013 – 33.6%, June 2014 – 43.2%.
By the reason mentioned above the share of respondents, which are not interested in politics, went down (Table 5). The interest in politics is still the interest of piqu? waistcoats: we are voting, we are following, we are discussing. But anything connected to active personal participation in politics is still within the frames of the statistical error.


A notable increase of electoral activity is explained by elections of deputies to the local Councils, which were held in March, i.e. three month prior the survey. It should be noted that the share of respondents that noted their participation in elections coincided with the turnout registered in March.
In comparison with March 2009 the age structure of respondents, that follow political information, changed. In the younger group of 18-29 years old there was a decrease of the share from 30.6% down to 26.5%. At the same time there is an increase in the group of people of 60 years old and older: from 20.5% up to 29.5%. The share of elder people discussing political events with their friends increased accordingly: from 18.5% up to 26.4% (+7.9 points!)
The surge of interest in politics of the respondents didn’t influence the level of oppositional moods in Belarusian society (Table 6). Oppositional activists should greet this stability, as the joint efforts of state mass media of Belarus and Russia, aimed to discredit Maidan and its activists, were not successful. As for the trust rating of oppositional political parties, it even grew by 3.4 points in comparison with March (from 14.9% up to 18.3%). However, importance of this should not be overestimated.


Today the main input in dynamics of social opinion is made by the representatives of the elder age group. They are main consumers of media production, and, for obvious reasons, they are the most susceptible to external influence. At the same time they are the least economically secured social group. That is why the victory of politics over economy, which can be observed today, is only temporary. A notable decrease of financial standing index, registered in June, is a clear signal of it. Now, according to W. Churchill, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.