IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),
N 2 (68), 2013




Social feeling under the conditions of a historic high
Most orderly European politician’s rating dynamics
Power and alternative in the ratings mirror
Whose state is it?
“People’s referendum”: the question has come to a head
Between chaos and dictatorship
Victory – one for everybody
Russian guests and a Russian air base

Some results of the opinion poll conducted in June-2013


Real policy and policy of imitation


Artur Wysocki, UMCS, Lublin, Poland
“Belarusian Identity if the Focus of International Experts”


Dear readers!

In another issue of the analytic bulletin “IISEPS News” we offer to your attention materials reflecting the most important results of the Institute research in the second quarter of 2013.
Our research shows that unstable stabilization which IISEPS wrote about describing the “economic feeling” of Belarusians last year has revealed a positive trend in the second quarter of the current year again. Thus, the ratio of those whose financial standing has improved for the last three months to those whose financial standing has become worse changed in favor of improvement in comparison with March. The number of those who consider Belarusian economy to be in crisis decreased. The population’s real income began to grow again. The number of those who think that “in general the state of things in our country is developing in the wrong direction” also decreased in comparison with those who gave a different answer. Belarusians began to look to the future somewhat more optimistically. At the same time, the number of negative answers considerably exceeds the number of positive ones as far as all the indices are concerned.
In spite of the trend, the image of the state as the main mouthpiece of the people’s interests and their protector becomes on the whole more and more “pale”. On the one hand, improvement in the “economic feeling” entailed some improvement in the attitude of Belarusians to the authorities: for example, the level of trust in the government rose. On the other hand, numerous facts speak about the instability and fragility of this connection. For instance, only a fourth of respondents agree with A. Lukashenko’s recent statement that “in 2013 the growth in consumer prices will not exceed 12%”, less than 40% – that “crisis phenomena have retreated in our country, and economy is consistently moving forward”. The authorities already cannot go far astride their pet subject – fight against corruption: only 30.2% of Belarusians agree that the president can succeed in fighting against corruption, 27.8% think that “he will hardly be able to achieve much success as corruption in Belarus is ineradicable”, and 37.5% – that “he himself depends on corrupt officials to a large extent”, or “he will not seriously fight against corruption in any case as he is interested in it someway or other”. Assessing people who hold power at the moment, almost 45% of respondents think that “these are people preoccupied with their material well-being and career”, and only 13.4% – “it is a good team of politicians leading the country in the right direction”. An opinion that the authorities are not only ignorant and corrupt, but also unjust and “not ours” begins to dominate in society: over half of respondents do not agree that “the state’s policy is formed based on the interests of millions of citizens, and not of the narrow strata of the elite”, and only a third of respondents assessing the state built under president A. Lukashenko believe that “this is my state, it protects my interests”, over 45% – “this is partly my state, it does not sufficiently protect the interests of such people as me”, and 15.5% – “this is not my state, it does not protect my interests, I do not trust it”.
However, as it has been mentioned before, this sentiment is not directly shifted on to head of state; the resource of public trust in him is far from being exhausted. Moreover, an increase in the “economic feeling” in the second quarter had a positive impact on the attitude to the president, too: in comparison with March the number of respondents trusting him and ready to vote for him in a new presidential election grew appreciably. However, “inflation” of the presidential rating with electoral expectations is changing: if before the majority of respondents pinned their hopes for Belarus economic development on the president, then today – on attraction of foreign capital.
Against a relative improvement in the “economic feeling” readiness of society for changes, including support of the opposition, remains low: only 15.4% trust opposition parties and opposition leaders’ ratings remain within the bounds of several percent. Only 5.4% said that “my life depends on politics, I take active part in it”, and over a third of respondents are not interested in politics at all. At the same time, as it has been already mentioned before, there are ways for changes supporters’ possible work. Judging by the data of numerous opinion polls, the principle here is rather simple: “the more the opposition turns its face to the people”, the more it can “count on reciprocity”. For example, a recent initiative of four opposition parties to hold a “national referendum” was received in society quite positively.
Although the before registered trends in foreign policy orientation of Belarusians remain on the whole the same, some “warming up” in the attitude to Russia is being noted again. Thus, the majority of respondents expressed a positive attitude to the fact that guests from Russia had recently begun to visit Belarus more and more often: about a third – because “they are people kindred to us” and almost the same number of people – because “the more tourists, the richer the country”. However, such an attitude to the people “kindred to us” does not mean that the majority of Belarusians support deepening of military integration, too: less than 20% treated the recent statement of Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation S. Shoygu about the possibility of deployment of a Russian air force base in Belarus positively, and 36% – negatively. Attempts of the authorities to play the “anti-West card” under such conditions again do not find considerable support in society either. For example, assessing a recent statement of A. Lukashenko that “Independent Belarus constantly finds itself at gunpoint of the cannonry of an undeclared cold war. We are being strangled with sanctions, bad-mouthed with aspersion. NATO war planes fly along our borders, new military bases are being created, provocations are being committed”, only 27% agreed with it.
As usual, for those readers who are interested more in our figures than in assessments we afford ground for analyzing the research results on their own by means of counting up in terms of the main socio-demographic characteristics.
In our “Open Forum” rubric we continue to introduce our readers to the most important results of social studies pursued in the contiguous countries and compared with the IISEPS data. And in our “Bookshelf” rubric we offer to the readers’ attention a review of Prof. Ryszard Radzik’s books devoted to the problem of Belarusian identity.
As usual your feedback and comments are welcome!