IISEPS News, N 2 (36), 2005



Strengthening Pro-“wide Europe” Attitudes in Belarus:

We want changes
Elite is ready to vote for alternative candidates
Shown-up unanimity

Enduring echo of referendum
Awaiting new election
Who urges people to protesting?
Anticipating changes
“To love our sweet Belarus…”
Nearly half of Belarusians stand for accession to EU
Key to alternative?
No one wants to be the minority
“Right” economic course and its results
Growth of protest potential
Propaganda is primary, life is secondary?..
Power is given to enjoy living…
Who needs private business?

Some results of the nation opinion poll conducted in May of 2005

Open Forum:

Alexander Milinkevich, Ph.D., Programm Manager of the Foundation for Regional Development Assistance
Consolidation of democratic forces is a ground for optimism


Uladzimer Rouda, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Information-Analytical Center for NGO’s
“National Idea. Phenomenology in Belarus”


Dear readers!


The next issue of the analytical bulletin “IISEPS News” offers to your attention materials reflecting the most interesting results of institute’s studies in the second quarter of 2005. We think the most significant event is that closure of the IISEPS under the decision of the Belarus Supreme Court taken on April 25, 2005 hasn’t stopped its activity. The Institute has been registered in Lithuania (under the same name and mission) and continues its work in Belarus.
In his annual address to the people and the Parliament, President A. Lukashenko underlined that the current power is stable as it is, first of all, led by people’s interests. However, as the results of opinion polls among the elite (conducted in April) and the electorate (conducted in May at the assistance of the Slovak Fund Pontis) show, the voters proper don’t give high estimates of the work of the authorities. The president is the only one who received positive estimate of the electorate while the Parliament, government and local authorities didn’t get even a “three” mark by a standard five marks scale (in the opinion of the elite, none of them deserve even this mark). Socio-economic development of the country, if estimated by public opinion rather than sampling indices of the state-build statistics, doesn’t correspond to the widely propagated “Belarusian model.” Thus, many of our fellow citizens tried to run a business in this country over lately and only every fifth of them succeeded. All the rest either have more problems than profit or have already closed their businesses.
Stability in the socio-political field is also very relative. President’s position is fairly firm among the electorate (for the past six months his rating decreased from 47.7% in November to 41.7% in May) while it is not among the elite. First, the elite gave A. Lukashenko the highest negative rating. Second, unlike the electorate it could clearly define its favorites (V. Parfenovich and A. Kozulin). Approximately 40% of all respondents don’t agree that the course which Belarus goes is right and shouldn’t change. In fact, life perception of those who agree and those who disagree with the current course is almost diametrically opposite: the first are pretty confident and optimistic about the future while the second say that little depends on them and they are pessimistic about the future. What influences most strongly the estimate of the Belarusians is their perception of lawfulness: those who think that their rights are observed support the president and those who feel deprived of their rights don’t support the president. Over 40% of respondents don’t believe that the next presidential election will be free and fair. Obviously, the less people believe in this, the less they support the current course and the more they support public protests against the authorities. This points out to presence of the protest potential in the country, even though it is currently latent (for example, almost every fifth respondent is basically ready to uphold his/her interests through activity in a political party but only slightly over 1% of them are party members de facto).
As the analysis shows, the protest potential sharply increases when people think that they cannot influence decisions of the governmental bodies. Impossibility to influence decisions of the governmental bodies progressively turns a source of larger concern for the Belarusians and affects in the negative their life perception. Hence, the authorities personally urge people to protesting. Already today, almost a quarter of respondents expects improvement of the situation if someone else but A. Lukashenko wins the next presidential election, one third of respondents doesn’t expect any substantial changes and an overwhelming minority expects deterioration of the situation. This means that the president is not anymore able to pin hopes of the Belarusians for better future on his rule.
Attention of the West towards the situation in Belarus is getting still closer over lately and the tone of statements delivered by Western leaders is getting still tougher. Both the Belarusian elite and common voters interpret such statements as well as forecasts on our democratic future in the light of their personal standpoints and their attitude to the current course of the Belarusian government. Efficiency of anti-Western propaganda has been gradually decreasing. At present, almost a half of the Belarusians think that Belarus should become an EU member. At the same time, willingness of some socio-political forces to make a leap into the day after tomorrow doesn’t correspond to the real state of minds: most Belarusians prefer to have good relations with both Russia and the West than with one of them separately.
As usual, we give our readers an opportunity to make independent analysis based on the results of our researches which are presented in the form of trends of change in the Belarusian public opinion as well as the most topical issues in the light of basic socio-demographic characteristics.
This time our traditional “Open Forum” has been given to a presidential contender for the democratic coalition A. Milinkevich, a wellknown politician and a public figure. He is a favorite of regional conferences held within the framework of preparation to the autumn Congress of democratic forces. He is not just a highly skilled expert but an active participant of these processes, and he offers his analysis of the problems and prospects of the democratic forces, including nomination of a sole candidate for the next presidential election.
On our “Bookshelf”, political scientist V. Rovdo presents a new book by P. Severinets “Belarusian Idea” in which the young politician shares his thoughts and experience about both the historical roots of Belarus and the road which Belarus goes.
All comments and requests are mostly welcome!