IISEPS News, N 4 (18), 2000



Life in Our Time:
Results of a national public opinion poll (Autumn – 2000)

Open Forum:
M. Chigir, Former Prime-Minister of the Republic of Belarus
Present State and Prospects of Development of the Belarusian Economy

Dr. L. Zaiko, Analytical Center “Strategy”
Oleg Manaev. “Emerging of a Civil Society in the Independent Belarus. Sociological Experience: 1991-2000”


Dear readers!


In this 18th issue of the bulletin “IISEPS News”, we present important results of the research and analysis done by our Institute in the last quarter of the year 2000.
Undoubtedly, parliamentary elections were the most important event in Belarus’ social and political life during that period. In fact, all political processes developed around it, although Alexander Lukashenko and the political opposition had contrary purposes. It even had a decisive impact on the social and economical development (think of a wage rise in autumn and the president’s promise that next year the average monthly wage will be at $100). The attention of international and foreign structures and public, who suddenly turned their eye to Belarus again, was also focused on the parliamentary elections. On the other hand, this event, which was important even by international standards, went almost unnoticed for most people in Belarus.
What did this indifference of the Belarusian nation mean? Were the elections a habitual political procedure that led to no significant changes in real life, as it is in countries with developed democracies? Or, vice versa, did it indicate the society’s all-out disappointment in the most widespread political mechanism in the political process, and disbelief in change? There is yet one more important question: what does this situation mean? Did the conditions for the development of democracy, market economy, rule of law and stronger independence change in this country? What influence will the results of the parliamentary elections have on the forthcoming presidential race? Did they bring any changes to the list of social and political actors in the Belarusian field? What and whom should we support now? All of us will be answering these questions for a long time – both politicians, analysts, journalists and diplomats. In the long run, the future of Belarus as the society and the state will depend on the answers to these questions…
It is understood, that the possibilities of social research and analysis in this situation are limited, the more so because they are carried out by one small institute. However, we believe that IISEPS has a unique information and analytical resource, which can offer the society a rare chance to take an impartial look at itself. This issue of the bulletin, much the same as the previous one, is almost entirely based on the results of the project “Belarus on the threshold of the 21st century: ways of social transformation”, which is carried out jointly by IISEPS and the Analytical center “Strategy” in close cooperation with the Coordinating Council of Democratic Forces. The results of the monthly social monitoring of public opinions and the views of elite, their analysis and comparisons, as well as raw data, sorted by social and demographic groups and trends, offer an incomplete, but reliable and timely picture of the developments in the Belarusian society.
This issue’s section “Open forum” was contributed by one of the major participants in the Belarusian political process, former prime minister Mikhail Chigir. The unique experience of this person, which included the supervision of Lukashenko’s government, notorious resignation for principal reasons, political oblivion, participation in the 1999 alternative presidential elections and eight months in prison for that, – deserves special attention. However, the society is primarily interested in the views and plans of the ex-premier as a potential candidate for presidency.
Our “Bookshelf” presents a review of a new book by the head of IISEPS, contributed by the president of the Analytical center “Strategy”, Dr. Leonid Zaiko.
We hope that this issue will be interesting and useful for you and your colleagues. As usual, your feedback will be appreciated!