At the recent meeting of Russian and Belarusian presidents, V. Putin unexpectedly asked A. Lukashenko if the latter would be able to consolidate different political forces around major problems of the state after the election. Converting this question from diplomatic language, the Russian president asked if A. Lukashenko would reach understanding with his political rivals.

The Belarusian president said, “You know, we don’t have such a problem. It is slightly different than in Russia where consolidation of political forces it truly very important. Here almost entirely the population voted for the president in the office, including that part of the electorate which should have voted for the opposition. This is why if we need to consolidate, these will be another one or two thousand persons – unfortunately, under-age youths who tried to de-stabilize the situation for money. I don’t mean that they are not important for us. Even two thousand are very important. However, if they take a different stand, we will go without them. We will keep the country going in the right direction.” (Sovetskaya Belorussia, April 29, 2006.)

It should be noted that the president slightly distorted the truth. The Central Election Commission announced that about 5.5 millions citizens voted for him while the total number of voters made over 7 million persons and the population of Belarus makes 10 million persons. The president could have an impression that “all population voted for him” since this is how Belarusian TV channels presented the election results. Very high attendance of over 90%, unanimous voting of the Army for the president in the office and the official results around the country (83% for A. Lukashenko) – all this could add to such an impression.

Our polling results show that the question V. Putin asked is not just reasonable but it is very acute. The results of the opinion poll prove that the majority of population voted for A. Lukashenko (yet, with lower figures) but at the same time they reveal how many people in Belarus are dissatisfied with his course as well as with the conditions in which the presidential election was held.

As it has turned out, the number of respondents who think that the candidates were in equal conditions with the president is close to the number of those who don’t agree with this opinion (48.3% vs. 43.1%). Asked the question “Did you notice any violations of the law during the election campaign in general?”, every third respondent pointed out to “use of state-run mass media in favor of only one candidate” and every fourth – that “the authorities frustrated canvassing campaigns of A. Lukashenko’s opponents” and “persecuted activists.” The goal of these violations was obvious even for voters – 37.1% of them said “such violations were committed in favor of A. Lukashenko (only 6.3% – in favor of A. Milinkevich and 3.8% – in favor of A. Kozulin).

Clearly, admittance of unequal conditions during the presidential election doesn’t mean that voters would vote for alternative candidates. Yet, while assessing fairness of A. Lukashenko’s victory, many of president’s supporters said that it wasn’t fair.

Any society can be conventionally divided into three parts: supporters of an idea, opponents and those who are not concerned about this. In democratic countries, the first two groups do their best to win the third group to their side. Those will get the victory who will succeed in this. For some time now Belarus is not considered a democratic country as its society cannot directly influence state-level decision taking. However, they still fight for those who haven’t yet taken sides.

A. Lukashenko truly received more votes than his rivals which is reflected in answers of respondents to many questions directly not related to election. At the same time, about a third of respondents in all situations like this always take a stand which shows that they don’t agree with A. Lukashenko’s course. Thus, 33.4% of the polled said they wouldn’t like A. Lukashenko be re-elected the president of Belarus; 32.9% think that the election wasn’t free or fair and 30.7% say that the country goes in the wrong direction.

In the opinion of voters, this is information distribution that was critical during the election campaign. Nearly 70% of them received information about candidates and their programs from TV performances and about a half of them – from the press. Alternative candidates were twice given 30-minute air time on TV, and almost two thirds of respondents watched both (either one or two) but only 9.3% of respondents said that these performances “influenced greatly” their decision for whom to vote. Asked the question “Did you have enough information about presidential candidates to make your choice with confidence?”, 71.6% of respondents answered in the positive and 27.4% – in the negative. Comparing these results with the voting results as well as admitting that people learnt much about A. Lukashenko for the 12 years of his presidency, the ratio of informed voters to all alternative candidates taken together makes less than 10%. In other words, two thirds of respondents who voted not for A. Lukashenko had lack of information about their candidates. They had to content with the key characteristic of these candidates – they should be president’s rivals if they compete with him. For most of voters, positive programs of these candidates (what they would do if they took the office) were unavailable.

Many lances have been broken over voting ahead of term as well as over compulsion to vote ahead of term. The opposition claims that ahead of term voting allows falsifying voting results as observers cannot know what they do with the ballot box at nights. Yet, only half of respondents saw observers on the voting day of March 19. This means the authorities could do whatever they wanted after ahead of term voting as well – there was no one to supervise voting at a half of polling stations.

They say, innocent until proven guilty. Meanwhile, 14% of respondents said they were put pressure on and forced to vote for a particular candidate. This is not a high indicator in itself. Yet, taking into account that only 14% of the polled said no one is afraid to express his/her political standpoints in Belarus, the situation stops looking very positive. They don’t have fear who support A. Lukashenko mainly unlike his rivals and the vacillating. This is why 14% of those who were put pressure on are only a visible part of the iceberg. Perhaps, all other simply didn’t dare to speak out this.