IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),
N 1 (71), 2014




Price growth is no obstacle to social optimism growth
Guaranteed work on a low salary!
The Crimea component of A. Lukashenko’s ratings
Homo sovieticus as the basis of electoral authoritarianism
We vote despite we don’t trust the results
Unrestricted authoritarianism and the right for its throw off
Ukrainian revolution in the mirror of public opinion in Belarus
Ukrainian push for geopolitical swing
Supporters of changes still dominate
Money can’t buy happiness, but political loyalty can
Who roots for Belarus?

Some results of the opinion poll conducted in March-2014


Russia: victory of emotions over the wallet’s contents
The heavy-handed approach to the return of the prodigal peninsula
Russian Ukraininans stand for the independence of Ukraine
Europe: optimism rise within statistical error


Konstantin Skuratovich, Ph. D.
“Hasty History”


Dear readers!

In another issue of the analytical bulletin “IISEPS News” we offer to your attention materials reflecting the most interesting results of the Institute researches in the first quarter of 2014.
Our surveys show that in the first quarter of this year “economic well-being” of Belarusians became more complex in comparison with the simple decrease of the previous year. For example, the ratio of those whose financial standing improved over the last three months to those whose financial standing went downhill continues to decrease; real incomes of citizens began to decrease as well after a small increase of the previous year. At the same time, the number of Belarusians considering that Belarusian economy is in crisis decreased, while their optimism for the future strengthened. While Belarusians don’t understand economic theory very well, millions of them come to the idea of market economy system by practical considerations: about 40% of respondents consider capitalism to be a better regime for Belarus, the same number prefers socialism.
Stabilization of “economic well-being” of Belarusians influenced their attitude to the state power as well: the number of people trusting A. Lukashenko once again exceeded the number of those who don’t trust him, and his electoral rating grew by 5%. At the same time there is an increase in the number of people who understand, that head of state, taking this position for almost two decades, cannot infinitely shift the blame for numerous failures in socio-economic and socio-political development of the country to other shoulders. That is why, despite the once again growing rating of the head of state, the number of people considering that “in general the state of things in our country is developing in a wrong direction” still exceeds the number of those who hold the opposite opinion. And if 53.2% of respondents “knew a person who could successfully compete with A. Lukashenko in the next presidential elections” they would vote for him, while only 34.5% would vote for the incumbent president.
The readiness for changes of Belarusians still has a concealed nature and avoids active forms and support of opposition. The number of those who consider themselves in opposition to the present power decreased once again. If people are dissatisfied with the power, “they can change it only by means of elections” according to almost 40% of respondents; the same number of them thinks that “they can change it by means of elections and protestations, but only peaceful ones”, and 15.6% of respondents gave the answer “by all means”. It is not unlikely that these moods explain the popularity of the idea of “democratic referendum”: almost a half of respondents expressed readiness to support it – this is an unprecedented result for oppositional initiatives.
Elections to local Councils were the main political event of the first quarter of the year. The power used the results of these elections to demonstrate their “unity with the people”, while opposition used them to criticize political regime and to boost its role in social life. According to the results of the survey, voting turnout was lower by 20% than it was declared by the CEC; less than 19% of respondents voted early, while this figure according to the CEC amounts to 32%. Only one third of respondents know the results of the elections, a half of them trust official results and more than a fourth don’t. One of the reasons for this distrust is that there were no equal conditions for all candidates, according to each fifth respondent. In particular, more than a fourth part of respondents said that powers supported one of the candidates in their district. That is why the same number of respondents agrees with the affirmations of opposition independent monitor groups that there were numerous infractions of laws and free-will of elections committees.
What concerns the foreign-policy orientations of Belarusians, the tendency to a thaw in relations to Europe and a cold snap in relations to Russia, observed over the last years, is changing to the opposite one: if there was a hypothetical referendum with a choice between integration with Russia and joining the EU, a half of respondents would choose the first variant, and less than a third of respondents would choose the second one (in December the ratio was 36.6% vs. 44.6%). It appears that the main reason for this “reverse” in foreign and domestic policy is the influence of the events in Ukraine. The turbulent events of last months in Ukraine are considered as “a subjective process caused by political technologies from the West and by power’s weakness” by almost 37% of respondents; the same share thinks that it was “an objective process caused by people’s dissatisfaction of power’s policy”; 28% of respondents consider the overthrow of President V. Yanukovich as “a just retribution for bloodletting”, while almost 55% consider it as “an uprising and a power grab”. 12.6% of respondents consider possible same course of events in Belarus, while 76.7% think it’s impossible. Only 3.6% of respondents would like similar events to happen in Belarus, while 70% wouldn’t. 21% of Belarusians sympathize opposition and Euromaydan, 16.1% sympathize the powers and President V. Yanukovich, and 56.2% took a neutral attitude. At the same time, “if similar events happen in Belarus today”, about 16% are ready to actively participate on the side of Belarusian “Maydan”, 11% on the side of the power, and two third of respondents wouldn’t participate at all. 78% of respondents answered “no” to the question “Is better future worth the people’s blood?”, while only 14% answered “yes”. Probably it is this mindset, deeply implanted into the history and culture of an “average Belarusian”, and not just aggressive propaganda that explains the dynamics of public opinion during the last months.
In our “Open Forum” rubric we continue to present the most interesting results of work of our colleagues from neighboring countries. In the “Bookshelf” rubric Belarusian publicist Konstantin Skuratovich reviews the book of Alexander Tomkovich “The Newest History in Persons” published in English. In this book the well-known “chronicler of the Belarusian civil society” illustrates the newest history of our country with political essays on a hundred of its most active leaders, usually slurred by official sources.
As usual, your feedback and comments are welcome!