(were interviewed 1.500 persons aged 18 and over, margin of error doesn’t exceed 0.03)

  • 1. In the fourth quarter “economic feeling” of Belarusians virtually “stiffened” at the former level: in spite of the fact that last year was a year of the real income growth for the overwhelming majority, 41% of respondents said it had turned out to be more difficult than the previous one; the same number of people said “it had been the same”, and it had been “easier” for 14% only. In comparison with the third quarter, the ratio of those whose financial standing had improved for the last three months and those whose financial standing had become worse remained approximately the same (14.7% vs. 25% in September and 17.4% vs. 26.7% in December). The number of those who consider that “in general the state of things is developing in our country in the wrong direction” still considerably exceeds the number of those who gave the opposite answer (47.4% vs. 34.1% in September and 46.1% vs. 33.5% in December). It is not surprising that the majority of Belarusians appraise their nearest future more skeptically than optimistically: 23.3% of respondents believe that the socio-economic situation will improve in Belarus within the next few years, and 29.7% – it will become worse (in September the ratio was 18.4% vs. 27.8%). As it can be seen, unsteadiness of the economic stabilization that many experts are talking about is also felt by millions of our fellow citizens. Thus, assessing the “success of the Belarusian economic model” a third of respondents said that “Belarusian economy enjoyed no success”, another 28.4% – “Belarusian economy would not be a success but for the Russian aid”, and 28.1% only consider that “success of Belarusian economy is explained by inner reasons”.

  • 2. The unsteadiness inevitably influences attitude of Belarusians to the authorities. Thus, Belarusians consider the president to be the main person responsible for the present crisis (41%), the government ranks second (39.1%), and opposition is being blamed by 11.5%, Europe – by 10.9%, Russia – by 7.5%. At the same time the “authorities’ culpability level” has decreased in the eyes of the population: in March 48.6% considered the president responsible for the crisis, and 46.6% – the government. Skeptical attitude towards one’s financial standing begins to spread to the economic policy of the authorities. For instance, almost half of respondents (46.7%) heard that in September president A. Lukashenko demanded that the boards of directors of confectionary plants “Kommunarka” and “Spartak” be done away with and both enterprises be placed under control of the state, and the majority of them (36.1%) do not approve of the decision as it contradicts Belarusian legislation (21.1% approve of it as “the plants were privatized illegally at one time”, and another 10.9% approve of it, in spite of the fact that the decision contradicts Belarusian legislation). At that not only certain decisions begin to be called in question more and more, but the ideology of the authorities’ economic policy itself. Thus, 56.2% of respondents did not agree with the recent statement of A. Lukashenko that “Market ideology was thrust on us to destroy the economy we had had” (only 24% agreed with it); 52.6% did not agree with the statement that “The basis of policy, mine in the first place, is honesty and justice. It is the basis of everything, including economy, however strange it might seem” (34.5% agreed), and 48.9% did not agree with the statement “We mustn’t pick on what was going on in 1917 and in general pulp the good ideas with which Lenin and his team agreed to the revolution” (35.1% agreed).

  • 3. Disagreement and dissatisfaction with the executive policy gradually “concentrate” on its main inspirer. Answering the question “Do you think the fact that virtually all power in the country is now accumulated in the hands of A. Lukashenko is for the benefit of Belarus or does not give the country anything good?” a third of respondents gave the first answer, and half – the second. It is appreciably better than at the height of the crisis (in June 2011 the ratio was 26.2% vs. 59.1%), but worse than before it (in September 2009 – 44.4% vs. 36%). The president’s personal rating has actually “come to a standstill” regardless of achieving the “cherished” $ 500 salary: in December he was trusted by 39.1% of respondents and 49.1% did not trust him (in September – 38.5% vs. 51.9%); 31.5% were ready to vote for him in the new presidential elections (in September 31.6%). Answering the question: “Some people think that after A. Lukashenko’s stepping down as president life in Belarus will improve, others on the contrary think it will become worse. And what do you think?” 24.5% said life would improve, and 25.9% – it would become worse (in December 2011 the ratio was 31.7% vs. 21.5%). It is obvious that shifting responsibility onto the “negligent officials” which the president has been skillfully using for many years does not produce the former effect any more.

  • 4. However, one must not draw a conclusion about an “impending revolution” on the basis of the facts – the majority of Belarusians are not ready to openly express their dissatisfaction. At that, as the analysis shows, they are not ready for it not at all because of the “all-out fear” or “omnipotence of secret services”. Thus, answering the question: “President A. Lukashenko announced implementing reforms of the administrative staff machinery. Which statement about Belarusian officials do you agree with?” the majority of respondents (47.6%) said “officials are deaf to people’s needs, because they are not controlled from above”, 37% – “officials are deaf to people’s needs, because there is no democratic control from below”, and 14% said that “officials really help people solve their problems”. Hopes for Belarus surmounting the crisis most respondents (34.1%) pin on … the president (28.8% – on businessmen, 24% – on Russia, 20.7% – on the West, and 8.6% – on opposition)! 21.3% consider themselves in opposition to the present authorities (in December 2011 – 22.6%), only 20% trust opposition parties (55.8% do not trust them), and opposition leaders’ ratings still fluctuate from 4.8% by A. Sannikov and 4.6% by V. Neklyaev, to 1.1% by N. Statkevich and 0.9% by A. Lebedko. Answering the question: “In November 2012 explosive assemblies were thrown in the territory of the Lithuanian embassy, and an explosive assembly went off near the building of the KGB administration in Vitebsk. Who do you think is at the back of these actions?” 15.2% pointed to the authorities, and 16.3% – to the opposition (33.7% – “to insane persons”). To the question: “What do you think the opposition should do?” most respondents (35%) answered “offer a dialogue to the government” (33.4% – “assure resignation of the president”, 3.1% – “organize an armed rising or a revolution”). The voting turnout in the recent parliamentary elections is explained, in the first place, exactly by the precepts, and not by the deception or pressure of the authorities: according to the December opinion poll 62.7% of voters participated in them, and 9.8% boycotted them (according to the data of the opinion poll held after the elections 66.4% and 9.6% respectively), at that 42.2% considered the elections free and just (immediately after them – 47.5%).

  • 5. No considerable changes are being observed in foreign policy orientation of Belarusians. Just as in the third quarter, if the situation requires choosing between integration with Russia and joining the European Union, 37.7% speak for the first option, and 43.4% of respondents – for the second one (the ratio used to be 36.2% vs. 44.1%). However, in a deeper retrospection the public opinion “leeway” from Russia to the European Union becomes more and more obvious. Thus, if in December 2011 35.9% would vote for joining the EU at a hypothetical referendum, and 36.9% – against, 29% – for integration with the RF, and 42.9% – against it, then in December 2012 the ratio became 38.9% vs. 37.6%, and 28.7% vs. 47.5% respectively. As it has been already mentioned before, perhaps Russian support thanks to which economic stabilization had begun since the end of the previous year, started triggering questions by the “mass Belarusian”. For instance, in December 47% of respondents knew or heard something about another exacerbation of Belarusian-Russian relations due to Belarus export of petrochemical products under the guise of “solvents”. On the other hand, although considerably fewer people know/have heard something about the new program of the European Union “Dialogue about modernization of Belarus”, their number is gradually growing: if in autumn there were 20.9% of them, then in December – 25.3%; at that time 40.3% considered that “Belarus needed such a program”, today 48% think so. However, as it has been emphasized in the institute’s analytical materials more than once, “Europeanisation” of public opinion has a pragmatic rather than value response. Giving answers to the question: “What kind of assistance could the European Union render in modernization of Belarus, in your opinion?” Belarusians mentioned “sharing of modern technologies” and “provision of credits” in the first place (42.2% and 36% respectively), and not “consulting assistance in reform implementing” (28.4%). Such “quiet European invasion” is also exemplified by the issue of the “small border traffic” (the initiative of the EU and Eastern European countries, including Belarus, stipulating a visa-free border-crossing for the residents of border territories) – today 37.7% know about it, and almost half of respondents supports it (at that the majority of them are ready to lend active support to its promotion). Perhaps, exactly due to the fact Belarusian authorities do not hurry to sign the proper agreement, which has not escaped attention of public opinion. Thus answering the question: “Why do you think the agreement for the “small border traffic” with Lithuania and Poland has not come into effect still?” most respondents (22.7%) said “the Belarusian party impedes it” and the fault of the other party (“the Polish and Lithuanian parties impede it”) was pointed to by 13% only.