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IDEAL CITIZENS OF A NONIDEAL STATE

To have a good reputation by oneself is human. In the social psychology language it is called “disposition in favor of one’s own Ego”. The given disposition is registered not only on the everyday level, but also when respondents answer questions connected with social and political range of problems. Let us refer to the data of Table 1. As it can be seen, the absolute majority of Belarusians (68.1%) are law-abiding citizens who meet their commitments owed to the state. The share of the population “irresponsible” in the civic sense is extremely insignificant (7.6%). However, the ideal citizens have no luck: they have to live in the state not notable for any special fervor in the questions of abiding by the Constitution. Let us cite its Article 2: “The state is liable to the citizen for creating conditions for free and adequate development of the person. The citizen bears responsibility to the state for rigorous observance of obligations he or she is entrusted with by the Constitution”.

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “To what extent, in your opinion, do citizens of Belarus (does the state) fulfill their obligations owed to the state (citizens of Belarus) (observe the laws, pay taxes and so on) and to what extent, in your opinion, does the state fulfill its obligations owed to the citizens of Belarus?”,%

Variant of answer

Citizens

State

+/-

They fulfill them in full

19.0

6.0

13.0

They mostly fulfill them

49.1

26.5

22.6

Equally – they fulfill as much as they do not

23.1

31.0

–7.9

They mostly do not fulfill them

6.3

26.4

–20.1

They do not fulfill them at all

1.3

8.8

–7.5

DA/NA

1.2

1.3

–0.1

In the split Belarusian society a question about observance of obligations owed to the state by the citizens did not provoke the habitual polarization of opinions (Table 2). A low level of self-criticism in the group of respondents with primary education and in the older age group (Belarusians with primary education have “remained intact” mainly in the older age group) is an exception confirming the general rule. There is nothing surprising in it. Disposition in favor of one’s Ego is a universal phenomenon not influenced by political preferences what the last two lines of Table 2 clearly demonstrate.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question: “To what extent, in your opinion, do citizens of Belarus fulfill their obligations owed to the state (observe the laws, pay taxes and so on)” depending on gender, age, education and attitude to the authorities*, %

Characteristic

They fulfill them in full

They mostly fulfill them

They fulfill as much as they do not

They mostly do not fulfill them

They do not fulfill them at all

Gender:
Male

16.7

50.2

23.9

6.6

1.9

Female

20.9

48.3

22.6

5.9

0.8

Age:
18-29

14.0

52.5

25.3

5.6

1.4

30-39

17.2

48.1

27.6

5.6

0.7

40-49

15.8

48.4

25.8

7.5

1.1

50-59

15.4

52.1

23.9

6.9

1.2

60+

30.9

44.8

14.7

5.8

2.0

Education:
Primary

34.4

46.9

8.3

5.2

2.1

Incomplete secondary

29.9

43.0

18.7

8.4

0

Secondary

17.6

50.6

21.8

7.1

1.6

Vocational

16.9

47.9

26.0

6.5

1.4

Higher

16.1

50.8

27.7

4.5

1.0

Attitude to the authorities:
Opponents

18.1

51.6

25.6

3.4

1.1

Supporters

19.1

48.8

22.4

7.1

1.5

* The table is read across

When Belarusians begin to appraise their native state nothing is left of the former unanimity (Table 3). Over a quarter of the authorities’ opponents are sure that the state does not at all meet the obligations owed to the citizens, while the popularity of such a view is almost 10 times lower among their supporters (26.4% vs. 2.8%)! In the split Belarusian society the state refuses to act as a mediator, i.e. to build a “median” policy that would take into account interests of the “majority” in need of paternalistic care, as well as of the economically active “minority”. The country’s political class prefers to rely mainly on the “majority” and the Belarusian economic model, one of whose top priorities is redistribution of resources from the “minority” to the “majority”, functions exactly in their interests.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “To what extent, in your opinion, does the state fulfill its obligations owed to the citizens of Belarus?” depending on gender, age, education and attitude to the authorities*, %

Characteristic

It fulfills them in full

It mostly fulfills them

It fulfills as much as it does not

It mostly does not fulfill them

It does not fulfill them at all

Gender:
Male

4.5

22.0

30.7

30.6

11.0

Female

7.1

30.3

31.2

22.9

7.0

Age:
18-29

2.0

22.0

29.6

30.1

14.4

30-39

2.2

18.6

37.5

30.5

10.4

40-49

2.5

20.8

35.1

32.3

8.6

50-59

5.4

26.6

31.7

27.0

7.7

60+

16.4

41.8

23.1

14.1

2.9

Education:
Primary

28.1

50.0

13.5

7.3

0

Incomplete secondary

11.2

39.6

20.8

21.7

6.6

Secondary

3.3

28.1

33.4

23.8

9.8

Vocational

3.6

20.8

35.2

28.7

10.2

Higher

5.8

20.0

29.7

35.2

8.7

Attitude to the authorities:
Opponents

0.3

8.2

17.6

47.4

26.4

Supporters

8.4

35.7

34.7

16.9

2.8

* The table is read across

Society is aware of this policy; that is why negative as well as positive grades given to the state should be recognized as reasonable. Belarusian state is a “friend” for peripheral social groups with a low level of personality resources, the groups that form the nucleus of the authorities’ supporters. And the state generally meets the commitments owed to its “friends”.

If one compares answers of Belarusians to the questions of Table 1 with the answers of Russians to the similar questions, then the general level of appraisal of the state’s “obligatoriness” will prove to be in favor of Belarusians. In January, 2012 according to the data of “Levada-center”, 17% of respondents in Russia agreed with the choice “the state fulfills its obligations in full/mostly”, while in Belarus almost two times more – 32.5%. In spite of this ratio, the majority of Russians supported the party of power at the parliamentary election, and its leader V. Putin – at the presidential election. Analysts inclined to see behind each decrease in the income of Belarusians a possibility for development of a scenario disastrous for the authorities should remember about it.