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THOSE WHO ARE NOT SATISFIED WITH THE QUALITY OF LIFE SUPPORT THE DEMOCRATS

According to Table 1, population is in general very positive about dynamics of its welfare. For the past three years, the number of those who think that their welfare improved during the previous three months has increased 3.6-fold (from 6.5% to 23.5%) and the number of those who think that it aggravated has dropped down 2.9-fold (from 41.6% to 14.2%). Although the number of those who think that their welfare didn’t change has increased by 10 points, general distribution of answers points out to substantial improvement of the situation in general. What’s more, this sharp increase in welfare has been registered for the past year which points out to advance preparation of the authorities to the forthcoming election.

Table 1. Change in personal welfare for the past three months, %

Variant of answer

03’03

03’04

03’05

02’06

Improved

6.5

11.8

13.7

23.5

Hasn’t changed

50.5

58.1

61.8

59.7

Aggravated

41.6

28.2

21.2

14.2

Assessment given by population to their per capita incomes also shows the same tendency. According to Table 2, in June of 2004 the ratio of per capita incomes below and above the minimum consumer budget made up 4.5 to 1 and two and a half years later it came to 2 to 1. In other words, previously every four of five respondents lived below the line of social minimum and now only two of the three live at this level.

Table 2. The average per capita income (including wages, pensions, allowances and other earnings) you had in the past month in your family, %

Variant of answer

06’04

11’04

03’05

12’05

02’06

Below the minimum consumer budget

81.9

79.6

74.8

67.1

65.2

Above the minimum consumer budget

18.1

19.6

24.5

32.2

34.0

However, despite registered welfare improvement, adult population is not very positive about the standard of life in Belarus in general, as the Table 3 shows: every fourth respondent (23.6%) says that it is to a different extent bad and 57.6% – that it is average. It is every fifth Belarusian only (17.9%) who said that his/her standard of living was to a different extent good.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question “How can you in general evaluate the quality of your life?”

Variant of answer

%

Very/rather good

17.9

Average

57.6

Rather/very good

23.6

This is how population estimates their standard of living, which influences the electoral behavior. In particular, 91.3% of those who think that living standard in Belarus is to a different extent good will come to voting on March 19 whereas this figure among those who think it is bad is only 57.2%.

These two groups of voters have different preferences as well: among the first, 80.6% will vote for A. Lukashenko (some 5.1% – for A. Milinkevich) and among the second – only 25% for A. Lukashenko (36.8% – for A. Milinkevich). In other words, support of this or that politician at the coming election greatly depends on how voters estimate their living standard. What’s more, this estimate barely correlates with the real level of income. On the contrary, there are by 10 points more supporters of A. Lukashenko among those respondents whose per capita income doesn’t reach the minimum consumer budget than among those whose income are above the minimum consumer budget (62% vs. 52.5%). This means that people are much concerned about non-financial component of the living standard. Here is a direct relation between offences given by authorities and estimation of the living standard: there are less than 20% of offended by authorities among those who are satisfied with the quality of life and about 50% – among those who are dissatisfied with the quality of life.

It follows from this that A. Lukashenko has almost mobilized his electorate among those who are concerned about the living standard while democratic candidates still have to do this.