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BULLETINS “IISEPS NEWS” N 1 (55) MARCH

IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),
N 1 (55), 2010

Content:

Preface

MONITORING OF PUBLIC OPINION IN BELARUS:

March-2010
Only the old are marching into “battle”
Do you know your deputy?
Whom to vote for?
Political trust paradox
The turning point of the tendency
Pensioners are getting out of the crisis
If elections take place tomorrow
Woman’s “power verticle”
“Democrats” and “Autocrats”
Geopolitical orientations trends
Polish question. Or Belarusian?
“It has never happened before and here you are again!”
Is it necessary to normalize relations with the USA?
This sweet word – justice

Some results of the opinion poll conducted in March

OPEN FORUM:

Zmitser Dashkevich, head of the Young Front
Belarus new generation

BOOKSHELF:

Mikhail Zalessky, Ph. D.
Paval Seviarynets and Nasta Palazhanka. “Members of the Young Front”

Preface:

Dear readers!

 

In the regular issue of the “IISEPS News” analytical bulletin we offer to your attention materials representing the most interesting results of the Institute activity in the first quarter of 2010.
A national opinion poll conducted in March showed that the economic crisis still remained number one problem for the majority of Belarusians. The number of respondents considering that their financial position has worsened for the last three months (30%) exceeds the number of those whose position has improved more than three times. Almost 60% suppose that their position has not changed. The average income (including salaries, pensions, allowances and other additional earnings) which went to every member of a Belarusian family constituted approximately $ 160 last month; and income of more than a half of respondents is under the minimal consumer budget ($ 138). Almost a half of respondents is “completely or to a considerable extent” sure that the crisis is “a consequence of the country’s leadership economic policy of the last years”, and almost two thirds – that the government of Belarus does not have a well thought-out program on coming out of the cri-sis (at that over a half of respondents supposes that the authorities are taking decisions under the influence of the momentary circumstances). The majority does not believe promises of the leadership to raise the average salary to $ 500 per month by the end of the current year. Therefore 60% of Belarusians estimate opportunities for realization of their life plans less than at 50% (almost every fifth person – less than at 25%).
Attitude of Belarusians to the authorities and the existing order still possesses ambivalent nature. On the one hand, when answering the question: “Does the activity of the “power vertical” created by A. Lukashenko bring more use or more harm to the country, in your opinion?” a third of respondents said “more harm” (“more use” – 41%). Only 29% of Belarusians consider the Belarusian society to be “the most equitable one” and 37.8% – western societies (in particular, German – 21.3%). On the other hand, almost a third of Belarusians thinks that “a powerful hand” is the best method of governing a country (democracy is preferred by 53.9%). Only 16.2% consider themselves opponents of the present authorities (the lowest rate for the last five years of the IISEPS monitoring). Approximately a half of respondents suppose that as a whole the state of affairs in our country is developing in the right direction (in the wrong – 35.6%). As a result, when respondents were answering a question which allowed for several answers: “If presidential elections took place tomorrow, whom would you vote for?”, A. Lukashenko as usual received his 42.7% which exceeded the rating of his “closest” rival A. Milinkevich almost ten times (4.7%). As it has already been mentioned before, political consequences of the economic crisis are “ripening”; however, they have not set in yet.
The opinion poll conducted “at the height” of the elections into the local Councils campaign showed that for millions of voters it remained “invisible” in essence: more than three fourths of respondents did not know anything about the candidates who were running for deputies in their constituencies, and over a third of respondents did not even know when the elections were going to take place. The reasons for this situation are being thoroughly scrutinized in the bulletin – a low rating of the local Councils in the political consciousness, absence of the necessary attention on the part of the authorities themselves, as they, on the one hand, look at the local Councils in the same way, and, on the other hand, completely control the whole political process. However, such an attitude to the local elections on the part of the population majority does not at all mean that it is ready to join the supporters of the boycott: almost 63% said already in March that they were going to vote.
The opinion poll demonstrated again that the Belarusian society remains divided, if not split, into “Belo-Russians” and “Euro-Belarusians” in approximately equal shares: the number of those who are ready to choose integration with Russia and entering the European Union constitutes today 41.4% vs. 40.4%, although the basic cultural identification of the majority of Belarusians is obviously closer to Russia than to Europe. Apparently, one should not exaggerate either geopolitical hopes or fears of the Belarusians: mass propaganda influences their momentary rather than basic dispositions.
The “unstable balance” among various groups of the Belarusian society as well as the simplified “black-and-white” picture offered by the mass propaganda induce the growing number of people to “search for truth” on their own. Today over a half of Belarusians considers that they do not have sufficient access to information about the current political situation in Belarus, and almost a half – that information received from official sources completely or partially does not correspond with their real life. First of all, direct spreading of information materials of social and political nature over mail boxes (in the course of the last year 21.3% of respondents received them), and various Internet resources (the number of regular Internet users, i.e. of those who use it daily or several times a week) has grown from a fourth to almost a third of the population for the last half a year) are becoming more and more popular sources.
As usual, for those who are interested in our figures more than in assessments, we offer an opportunity to analyze on their own the results of the researches in the form of direct calculation in the frame of the main socio-demographic characteristics.
The most important processes which are going on today amidst the “dissenting” youth, their program views on the past and the future of Belarus, as well as the strategy and tactics of their political activity, became the topic for reasoning (at times disputable, reminding a symbol of faith, rather than a strict analysis) which the young leader of the “Young Front” Dmitry Dashkevich, who has already gone through thick and thin, is sharing with us in our traditional rubric the “Open Forum”.
The topic of the young people from whom “it is required to do something which their teachers are already not able to do” is continued by our “Bookshelf” where the famous Belarusian expert Mikhail Zalessky presents to the readers collected articles “Members of the Young Front” recently published in Minsk.
As usual, any feedback and comments are welcome!

IISEPS Board