During March elections of local Councils’ deputies Belarusian people didn’t let down their “batka” and were thanked for it: “Thanks to the people for supporting us in these elections, for coming so numerous. Surely, the situation put us on the alert, and I’ve asked people to come. The fact people come to elections is a strong argument for me. I often take it out of my pocket and put it on the table during important negotiations. And everyone understands: if almost 80% of populations come to elections, it means that they trust the power. It means I have some kind of strength in those negotiations. It’s a very big argument”.
Speaking accurately to a tenth, voter turnout amounted to 77.4% including early voting before the 23rd of March. All this is according to the information provided by the CEC. This level of turnout is quite adequate to “the Belarusian election standard”, established during the constitutional referendum of 1996. National survey results deviated from the CEC information by 20 points (Table 1). There was nothing unexpected. Three months prior to the elections, against the background of total apathy in Belarusian society, a record-low level of expected turnout was registered – 44% (67.1% among the supporters of A. Lukashenko and 27.2% among his opponents). This is 20 points less than the average figure over the aughties.
Table 1. Dynamics of answering the question “Did you vote on local Councils’ deputies elections in March 2014?”*, %
Variant of answer
Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Don’t trust

* Date had been changing according to the date of elections

The overall turnout is only 7 points lower than the average figure over the aughties. From the look of it, “responsibility” for the growth of the turnout relatively to December survey should be laid on the mobilization of Belarusian society by Russian mass media.
The decrease of turnout comparatively to the elections of 2010 happened at the cost of voters, that don’t trust A. Lukashenko: June 2010 – 49.9%, March 2014 – 39.4% (–10.5 points). As for the voters who trust A. Lukashenko, their “political consciousness” almost hasn’t changed: June 2010 – 74.5%, March 2014 – 73% (–1.5 points).
Rural and small town people demonstrated a traditionally high electoral activity – 65.5% and 68.4% accordingly. Turnout in Minsk amounted to 39.7%.
Turnout depends on the level of incomes per family member as well. Incomes which are lower and higher than average are not favorable for the electoral activity of Belarusians. The least financially secured people are busy trying to survive. The most financially secured people do not care about elections anymore: 1.2 million rubles – 53.8%, 1.2-1.9 million rubles – 62.4%, 1.9-3.8 million rubles – 59.4% and more than 3.8 million rubles – 47.6%.
According to the CEC 32% of voters voted early. Let us note that official results of early votes steadily grow: 2007 – 24.9%, 2010 – 29.3% and almost every third voter in 2014.
IISEPS results once more turned out to be lower – 18.9% (Table 2). However there is almost no difference with the results of 2010. The decrease of turnout happened at the cost of votes during the main day of elections.


A 60% turnout is considered to be quite high by the standards of democratic countries. In Belarus high turnout is usually explained by Soviet heritage, however there was no mass early vote in the USSR. In this regard the low share of respondents who answer affirmatively the question of Table 3 seems to be quite suspicious.


There are two possible explanations. Firstly, many people (let’s not forget that they are grown-ups) are ashamed to admit that they had fulfilled their civil duty under dictation. Secondly, the difference between a request, a recommendation and an open threat of the boss is often very relative. That is why something which would be unambiguously perceived as a dictation by a European, would be interpreted in a wholly different way by a typical Soviet Belarusian.
Parliamentary and local elections are dull in Belarus. State mass media, as a rule, only publish official messages from the CEC and accompany them with minimal comments. Judging by the answers to the question “Did all the candidates to local Councils’ deputies had equal conditions according to you?” (Table 4) the level of “dullness” was record high in 2014, and that led to a decrease of negative answers by 6.4 points. And that’s against the background of lower trust to A. Lukashenko: June 2010 – 54.3%, March 2014 – 45.9% (–8.4 points).


How can we talk about preferences to the candidates from power, when electoral campaign was limited to official declarations by the CEC!
The same logic should be used while analyzing the changes recorded in the answers to the question “Did the power support any candidate in your district?” (Table 5). Pay attention to the last line of the table. Almost a half of respondents couldn’t answer this apparently simple question. And almost every third respondent had difficulties answering the previous question.


For comparison: after presidential elections in 2010 only 11.5% of respondents didn’t know how to answer a question about equal conditions for candidates. Presidential elections in Belarus run under the conditions of maximal mobilization of electorate, and majority of Belarusians have no doubts whom favors “the machinery of government”.
While analyzing the answers to the question of Table 6 attention should be paid to the “Didn’t vote” variant. The share of those who didn’t vote jumped by 11.4 points in comparison with 2010, and this once more confirms the low turnout of March elections.


At the cost of lower turnout candidates supporting A. Lukashenko “lost” some votes. Certainly, the distribution of votes between three types of candidates shouldn’t be taken literally. Only 689 of 24.858 registered candidates (0.028%) declared their party identification. That is why 10.2% of voters couldn’t vote for candidates opposing A. Lukashenko. But it’s a thankless and senseless occupation to blame public opinion for the lack of logic.
If a candidate, not demonstrating openly his support to the head of state, is perceived as his opponent, this is the evidence of popularity of black-and-white thinking in the polarized society.
Level of trust to official results of elections didn’t change significantly (Table 7). About a half of Belarusians trust them, 28.5% don’t trust. Let us remind you that the turnout amounted to 57%. Hence a part of respondents participated in a political event without trusting its results.


A whole bunch of explanations could be proffered here, but we’ll give only one: voters do not feel responsibility for the result of elections. Final result of the event they participate in does not depend on them. Thus it is not so important if they trust the results or don’t.
Answers to the next question (Table 8) may be regarded as an addition to the answer to the previous one (Table 7). In both cases the share of respondents having difficulties to answer was quite high. This isn’t evidence of a difficult question, but of a lack of concern of the respondents.


Let us quote one more citation from A. Lukashenko. We took it from his communication with journalists at voting station on the 23rd of March: “In Minsk, for example, as the mayor said, there were lines at voting stations yesterday, because people were going to the countryside and wanted to vote. This shows that our people are politically active and conscious, that they root for peace and stability, which should be maintained, and they rely on their deputies, they believe that these peace and stability would be maintained”.
Let the lines at voting stations remain on the conscience of the mayor. We are going to have a closer look at the voters who rely on their deputies. Let us turn to Table 9. Only one third of voters (57% of those who voted) know the results of the elections. 11 years ago there were more than a half of those, but their share dropped with every election campaign.


Reliability of the results in the fourth column of Table 9 is confirmed by the answers to the question “Did the candidate you voted for become a deputy?”: 70.9% of respondents had difficulties answering it (58.8% in 2010), 17.7% of respondents were affirmative and 11.4% – negative.
Political apathy in Belarusian society is growing. This is not contradicted by the growth of positive moods provoked by Russian mass media in March 2014. You should separate chaff from grain not only while preparing a meal. Dynamics of political indifference, reflected in Table 9, is formed by fundamental reasons. It is a direct consequence of the exhaustion of the Belarusian model. While the growth of positive moods is a temporary phenomenon.