In June, 2012 77.3% of respondents agreed that Belarus needed changes, whereas only 15.1% supported the opposite point of view. It should seem that the overwhelming advantage of the former above the latter simply had to materialize into public actions. However, such expectations of opposition politicians were not destined to come true once again.

The mystery in this case is solved quite easily: it is necessary to differentiate between the declared and operational behavior codes of respondents while interpreting the results of public opinion polls. The mentioned distinction also holds true if one analyzes the so-called “new majority”. Since June 2011 A. Lukashenko’s distrust rating has invariably exceeded his trust rating (49.1% vs. 39.1% in December, 2012). However, does the mentioned fact mean that an electoral situation different in essence has taken shape in Belarus?

Here one has to sort out the criteria. Social and political processes are infinitely diverse. That is why an analysis result will depend on the selection of criteria. A Chinese proverb reminds us about the importance of selecting the “right” criteria: “All the dogs in the world can be divided in two groups: those that have crossedthis road and those that have not crossed this road”.

Under the conditions of a high level of support of A. Lukashenko his trust rating makes it possible to separate the democratic “minority” from the authoritarian “majority” quite efficiently. However, if attitude to the head of state really acted as a significant factor of the Belarusian society’s split it would mean the split had subjective rather than objective nature. Then a decrease in A. Lukashenko’s trust rating would very likely be accompanied by a growth in his political opponents’ trust ratings. However, such a “flow” of ratings has never been observed so far.

Let us illustrate the above said: in December 2010 at the peak of electoral mobilization 55% of Belarusians trusted A. Lukashenko, and 16.1% – opposition political parties. In two years amidst the economic crisis A. Lukashenko’s trust rating made up 39.1% (–15.9 points), and opposition parties’ rating – 20% (+3.9 points).

A decrease in A. Lukashenko’s trust rating did not lead to a comparable growth in the number of opposition-leaning Belarusians (Pict. 1). As it was mentioned before, in December 2012 49.1% did not trust A. Lukashenko, whereas only 21.1% considered themselves in opposition to the present authorities, i.e. 2.3 times less.

Following the results of the March opinion poll of 2012 socio-demographic portraits of opponents and supporters of the authorities were compiled. No surprises occurred there. Answering the question “Do you consider yourself in opposition to the present authorities?” men said “yes” 1.6 times more often than women, the young at the age of 18-29 – 3.6 times more often than those who are older than 60 and respondents with higher education – 6.3 times more often than the ones with primary education.

This is a typical distribution for a dependence on the level of human capital. In Belarus, as well as in Russia, the basis of opposition to the authoritarian power is constituted by representatives of the so-called “creative class”. The level of human capital is the criterion which takes the population on the opposite sides of the “barricades”. It is clear that the head of state’s personal rating does not influence it.

In 2012 the topic of political modernization was thrown into public opinion once again. Of course, A. Lukashenko initiated it himself. Let us cite an excerpt from his interview for Chinese mass media: “Today we are studying certain tendencies in the world, and of course we will adapt, modernize our political system. We will hold a parliamentary election, and I think we should pay serious attention to the political reform or the reform of our country’s political system”.

The initiative from above was not left unnoticed either by the independent or state analysts. In particular, in November and December the newspaper “Sovetskaya Belorussiya” published philosopher V. Orgish’s reflection on the topic of political modernization. Refusing the right to life to the Belarusian “minority” (“electorate for the most part supports the political system”), the philosopher nevertheless does not rule out the possibility of “electoral mobilization of various electoral strata of society” with the help of modern revolutionary technologies. Representatives of the radical wing of the party opposition will be able to cope with the role of political technologists under certain external conditions. In the opinion of the philosopher, to neutralize it the authorities should support the constructive opposition wing. At that direct financial support of the constructive opposition by the authorities should not be ruled out as one of the forms of such support.

Let us refer to the data of Pict. 2-3 which allow us to estimate opposition’s strategic missions from the point of view of public opinion. No considerable changes on the given question have occurred in society since November 2011. As it was to be expected, two mutually exclusive opinions predominate in a split society: to carry on a dialogue with the government and press for resignation of the president. Opinions of supporters and opponents of the authorities differ appreciably regarding these options, as well as all the others.

Attention should be paid to the fact that there is no consent either “across” or “down”, i.e. inside the groups of opponents and supporters of the authorities. Nevertheless, among opponents of the authorities confrontational sentiment prevails.

Under the conditions of a completely trampled down political field when elections have turned into a fiction, the tactics of “smaller-scale stories” gain popularity among part of the opposition. They were not evaded by the participants of the “round-table conference” organized in December by the activists of a number of civic initiatives and the site “Our opinion” either. Let us give the floor to I. Drako (deputy of the “Civic Agreement”): “Most likely the “smaller-scale stories” tactics are the most beneficial at the moment, bringing however small but obvious and tangible results. Thus we demonstrate our pertinence and helpfulness to the representatives of the “new majority”, we earn authority, involve citizens into public processes thus enhancing their social activity. It is quite possible that it will be converted into political activity later”.

History does know incidents of temporary overcoming the split; however it happened only in the context of society transition from the condition of political apathy to political excitement (classics of Marxism-Leninism called such transition “a revolutionary situation”). Last time it was observed at the height of Perestroika.

The condition of political apathy is a specific counterpart of a shell when interests of the majority of the population amount to nothing more than the so-called “close-in circle” (family, children, and colleagues at work). In this case initiators of the “smaller-scale stories” can count at most on an increase in their initiatives’ recognizability rating (see Pict. 4).

Concluding the talk on the topic of a “new majority” let us refer to the materials of the “round-table conference” once again: “The term “new majority” is partly rhetorical and manipulative. A new majority is found in Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, Belarus and the USA. One should realize that if the majority does exist in our country, it can hardly be political. It is not at all the right time to talk about mobilization of such a majority for political purposes. This majority is social, and the data of opinion polls confirm the fact. The only thing that unites these people is dissatisfaction with the inability or unwillingness of authorities at all levels to solve brewing social problems. This group is too amorphous for a mass public political struggle. Transforming a social majority into a political one is a long-term task which should be solved with the help of tools different from those that Belarusian opposition parties have got accustomed to using” (V. Dunaev, editor of the Political Examination Agency).