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IN STRICT COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW AND CONSTITUTION

The appearance at parliamentary elections 2008 made up 66.1%. The percent is quite high. But it does not come within miles of the voting in 2004, when 82.7% of Belarusians performed their civil duty. There was a good motive for it then: that year the parliamentary elections were held simultaneously with the constitutional referendum.

In the course of the June poll 57.8% of respondents confirmed their participation in the voting at parliamentary elections 2008. If we take into consideration that 8.4% forgot about their participation/non-participation in voting plus the natural renewal of the electorate, we should accept that there is no discrepancy between the two rates. However, it is not the case with elections-2004. Only 59.7% of respondents confirmed their participation in voting four years after (–23 points!). Thereat, what is surprising, the percent of the letheral proved to be the same as in 2012, 7.9%, but in contrast, the percent of those who declared their non-participation in the voting increased twice (from 16.1% to 32%).

Such anomaly is, probably, explained by the high appearance in 2004, when under the influence of the additional propaganda measures taken by the authorities, there came the voters to the precincts who would have not participate in voting in the usual conditions. Four year after, many of them had difficulties recollecting about the thing they had done under the influence of the propaganda against their assumptions.

Concerning the pending voting, no material difference against the electoral activity four years ago has been revealed (Table 1). You should compare the third column against the first column. The data of the second column were obtained short before the voting. Naturally, they reflect a higher level of the willingness to vote.

Table 1. Dynamics of answering the question: “Are you going to take part in the voting at Parliamentary Elections 2012?”, %

Variant of answer

06’08

09’08

06’12

Attitude to authorities

Opponents

Supporters

Yes, I am

53.0

61.2

50.7

46.9

52.2

No, I am not

18.4

14.9

19.4

29.2

16.2

I haven’t decided yet

27.4

23.5

29.9

23.9

31.6

We would like to emphasize a relatively small difference in the voting willingness of the authorities supporters and opponents (5.3 points). Such an insignificant difference is partly connected with the fact that three months before the elections almost every third of the authorities supporters has not determined upon his/her participation in voting. In September the mobilization level of the authorities proponents will increase significantly, and they will head in ordered columns for precincts that will increase the difference registered by us.

Pre-schedule voting is one of the signature dishes of the contemporary Belarusian election “cuisine”. In 2008, 20.2% of respondents voted ahead the schedule (according to CEC data, 26.3%). It is commonly supposed that such a high level is achieved owing to the administrative resource. It does play its role. In 2008, 3.1% of respondents voted ahead the schedule because they “were forced to do it”. However, before the beginning of the voting 14.4% pointed out that they were going to vote ahead the schedule (9.2% in July 2012). Traditions are man-made. Nobody voted ahead the schedule under Communists. It has grown natural for the majority of Belarusians to celebrate the Independence Day on the 3rd of July. There is no wonder that a fifth part of voters vote ahead the schedule.

In spite of such unity of voting, Belarusians, meanwhile, are rather skeptic about the elections fairness. Three months before the voting, the quantity of negative assessments exceeded the quantity of positive ones (Table 2). Such sociology does not go in line with A. Lukashenko’s allegations. Let us quote a fragment of Address-2012: “Over the recent years we have been developing a civil society. We have been sustaining a social dialog. We have ensured translucent and open conditions of the election procedure and full freedom for candidates”.

Table 2. Dynamics of answering the question: “What do you think, whether the pending elections will be free and fair?”, %

Variant of answer

06’04

06’08

09’08

06’12

No

44.1

34.8

30.5

39.6

Yes

40.4

45.9

49.8

36.8

DA/NA

15.5

19.3

19.7

23.6

Notably, that the authorities still have time to change the fairness balance in their own favor, however, it is not likely they will achieve the level of September 2008. The economic environment is quite different nowadays.

The imitation nature of the Belarusian democracy is most expressly revealed during election campaigns. It is no secret not only for professional analysts, but also for the public opinion. Over the last four years, the percent of those who find it difficult to answer the question of Table 3 has decreased by 5 points. This allowed to populate the groups whose assessments of the level of the candidates’ competitiveness do not depend on the governmental propaganda.

Table 3. Dynamics of answering the question: “What is your opinion, whether a real contest among the candidates will take place at the pending elections or only an imitation of this contest, and the distribution of seats in the Chamber of Representatives will be pre-determined by the authorities?”, %

Variant of answer

09’08

06’12

There will be only an imitation of the contest, and the seat distribution will be pre-determined by the authorities

41.8

46.9

A real contest will take place

39.2

39.1

DA/NA

19.0

14.0

An absolute majority of Belarusians (63.7%) agree with the fact that independent observation of the election process contributes to increased fairness and objectiveness thereof. But the percent of those who do not share this point of view is quite high (27.5%). However, if we proceed from the general awareness of the role of independent observation to personal interest in obtaining information on compliance with the election procedures from the observers, the percent of the interested will reduce to 52.7%, and the percent of the non-interested will correspondingly increase to 39%. In contrast, only 28% have declared about their willingness to provide the observers with the information about violations in the course of elections, whereas 36.1% are not willing to provide such information. Concerning the willingness to personally become observer of the election process, 22.7% declared it. 71.1% of respondents denied any possibility of their participation in the election campaign in the role of the observer.

The answer to the question: “Who would you like to obtain information about compliance with the election procedures from?” created difficulties for 47%. The reputation of independent observers proved incompatible with the reputation of observers from the organizations supporting the government: 37.7% vs. 6.9%. But what is interesting, the reputation of observers from opposition organizations proved not very much higher, 8.4%. To all seeming, in this case the positive aura of the word “independent” and the negative aura of the word “opposition” played their roles. In reality independent observers in Belarus are delegated to observers by opposition organizations.

The information about the election results provided by the election committees won the trust of only a third of respondents (33.1%). The trust level of the observers from opposition organization is only by 1.5 points lower: 31.6%. And 9.6% declared readiness to trust the observers from the organizations supported by the authorities.

Less than one half of respondents (46.2%) think that violation of election procedures and falsification of the election results imply penalty to the utmost strictness of the law (Table 4). Legal negativism is one of the key characteristics of the Belarusian culture. Facultative obeyance of law is normal not only for the representatives of authorities, but also for the majority of the population. Concerning the elections, for the last eighteen years a situation has formed when the members of the election committees are afraid not to violate, but to obey the law!

The less you know, the more soundly you sleep. Multiple violations in the course of election campaigns so actively discussed in the independent Mass Media do not concern a typical representative of the Belarusian majority. 50.1% of Belarusians have heard nothing about the violations recorded by the independent and international OSCE observers during parliamentary elections 2008 and presidential elections 2010, and 49.5% have heard something. Concerning the Belarusian Initiative of Observers Rights Advocates for Free Elections, only 20.5% of respondents know about it.

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question: “In the event of violation of the election procedures and falsification of the election results how, according to your opinion, shall the offenders be treated?”

Variant of answer

%

Punished to the utmost strictness of the law

46.2

Inform the public about the actions of such offenders

26.0

They should not be punished strictly because they have obviously been pressed from “the top”

8.3

Punishment makes no sense as everything is settled then and the result is well-known

15.9

DA/NA

3.6

Unlike presidential elections, parliamentary elections are conducted by the Belarusian authorities in “the dull regime”. There is a certain reason for it. Electoral mobilization has both pluses and minuses. Mobilizing their proponents, the authorities automatically mobilize their opponents. Hence, the Square with the associated cluster of consequences negative for social stability. Judging by the current economic situation, the pending parliamentary elections will not be an exception. They will pass according to the tradition. The guarantee of the established tradition will be the head of state himself, what he declared in his May Address: “I guarantee that the pending election campaign will be conducted at the highest level and in strict compliance of the laws and Constitution of our country. Not a step left, not a step right!”