While evaluating the recent election into local councils, ODIHR OSCE observers noted that the official Belarusian authorities turned it into a campaign on support of their political course among population. We should admit few changes have taken place for the past four years in this regard. There was an impression during the election that the interests of the authorities came up to two things – make the election campaign at once mass and inconspicuous (not to awake people’s political activity) and maintain control over the local Councils called by the president a support of the regime.

The truth is that he ensured the appearance. Yet, certain problems we’ve spoken about arose in this respect. We shall remind that 60.2% voters took part in the prescheduled local election and 64% of the respondents declared their decision to vote three months before the election (about 20% found it difficult to answer or gave no answer). Two weeks after the election two thirds of the respondents confirmed their participation in the election. The figure also supported by the answers to other questions slightly differs from the official data of the Central Election Commission (73.4%).
Therefore, let’s consider voters’ evaluation of the voting results. Over half of the respondents stated they knew the results. In addition, 45.7% trust the official data (a quarter distrusts). And only one third of the respondents are satisfied with the results (less than a quarter is dissatisfied). Thus, there is an obvious dependence between trust to the results and satisfaction with the results – majority (66.7%) of those believing they can trust the results of voting are satisfied with these results and only 9% are dissatisfied. Among those distrusting the results of the Central Election Commission the situation is mirror-like: 55.6% are dissatisfied and only 4.9% are satisfied with the results.
There’s a connection between their satisfaction with the results and the candidates the voters voted for. Among those who voted for candidates-supporters of A. Lukashenko 70.4% are satisfied with voting results (14.3% are dissatisfied). Among those who voted for candidates-opponents of A. Lukashenko the situation is opposite – 30.6% and 42.2% respectively. The given connection is easy to explain: it is enough to remember who finally received the overwhelming majority of the deputy mandates.
It was quite easy to curtail the number of those distrusting the official data. They only needed to bring representatives of the entire political stratum into the election commissions (See Table 1).

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question “Many Belarusians do not believe the election results, because election commissions did not include representatives of the opposition. What do you think in this respect?”, %

Variant of answer
All respondents
Voted for candidates-supporters of A. Lukashenko
Voted for candidates-opponents of A. Lukashenko
Confidence in election results would have been higher if election commissions included representatives of all political forces
Election commissions should include only those who defend interests of the current authorities
There is nothing surprising that over 80% of those voting for candidates-opponents of the president stand for representation of the entire political stratum in the election commissions. In fact, the candidates they supported spoke the most about non-transparency of commissions’ work and about violations of the law during the procedure of counting of votes. Remember how many lances were broken over this issue. What’s more, upholding their viewpoints the discussion participants generally referred to voters’ opinions and interests. It is quite obvious that voter’s interests lie nowadays in establishing such rules of the game when honesty of “referees” (members of election commissions) is ensured by control on the part of their colleagues with other political standpoints. Due to this reason among those voting for pro-presidential candidates there was 1.5-fold more of those who support the idea of wide representation in the election commissions than of those who prefer to see their the people of the authorities. And this is another strong argument in favor of the necessity to democratize the election legislation.
Why has a considerable part of the Belarusians – over a quarter – declined from its civil duty? The dominating reasons are traditional but this is first of all due to the credibility gap (See Table 2). It is supported by the fact that in the list of leading state and public institutions the local authorities with their negative index of trust (–0.295) rank at the bottom of the list.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question “If you didn’t take part in the voting, then due to which reason?”, % (more than one answer is possible)

Variant of answer
Whoever is the deputy, he won’t anyway stand my interests
I don’t trust to any of the candidates
I was busy and couldn’t come to the voting station
Deputies of the local Councils have too narrow powers to solve my problems
This election wasn’t free or fair
Other reason
If considering the socio-demographic factors of those who didn’t go to the election, this is mainly the group represented by 25-29-old citizens living in the capital and working in private companies. Apparently, in view of their activity and related experience they mostly count on themselves and are not used to relying on the government.
We are often said that our voters come to the voting stations at the very latest minute. However, the survey findings show that only a third of the respondents undertook to fulfill their civil responsibility on the last week or on the last day of the voting (See Table 3). Supporters of the current authorities traditionally surpass their opponents in discipline and determination.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question “When did you resolved to participate in the voting?”, %

As we know, very few democratically-minded candidates became deputies of the local councils. Furthermore, both the candidates who failed and the independent observers gave a lot of examples and evidences proving that voting results were fabricated. Therefore, it is twice interesting to know who citizens voted for. (See Table 4).

Table 4. Dynamics of answer distribution to the question on the nature of voting, %

Variant of answer
Which candidate would you prefer to vote for
Which candidate have you voted for
Candidate-supporter of A. Lukashenko
Candidate-opponent of A. Lukashenko
Other candidate
Didn’t take part in the voting
At the first sight one can think the data disproof the statements of violations during the procedure of counting of votes. Comparing to December, candidates-opponents of A. Lukashenko truly received almost threefold lower voter’s support. However, it is necessary to remember that many popular and famous democratic candidates didn’t manage to pass the registration. Consequently, their electorate was simply deprived of the very possibility of choice. But their votes didn’t go to candidates-supporters of A. Lukashenko. Moreover, the candidates that didn’t have problems with the registration, campaigning, etc. finally received 1.5-fold lower support from voters comparing to that they expected in December.
And now the main point: 9.9%of the respondents stated they voted for candidates-opponents of A. Lukashenko. This is twice less than the number of those who reported their support of candidates-supporters of A. Lukashenko. Among those who said they took part in the election 32% noted they cast their votes for candidates-supporters of A. Lukashenko and 14.7% – for candidates-opponents. But, as we well know, the ratio is, to put it mildly, not observed among those who receive deputy mandates. This gives grounds to questioning fair and just character of the procedure of counting of votes.
The opposition parties participating in the election had two targets: entering their people into the Councils and also publicizing their standpoints. Effectiveness of the first task is hard to judge in view of hardly fair procedure of counting of votes. We can talk more specifically about the second task. Shortly before the election we pointed out that party belonging of a candidate insignificantly influences voters’ preferences. In December most voters spoke of their willingness to support candidates of the party “Nadzeya” and the Liberal Democratic Party (5.8% each). In March 87% found it difficult to answer or didn’t answer the open question “If you have voted for a candidate of a party, then of which party?” and 7% said they supported a non-party candidate. None of the political parties received over 1% of votes. It is no secret, the opposition parties have to work under very hard conditions. Yet, the above figures shouldn’t be disregarded by their leaders that need to understand that the current image of parties among voters is far from being the best. Thus, their index of trust (–0.340) is one of the lowest among public and state institutions.
All we have previously said allows concluding that so far the official authorities does not intend to introduce certain changes into the developed technology of managing mass political campaigns. We should admit, the technology still brings necessary results to the authorities. Under such conditions it is much harder for their opponents to achieve considerable success, for apart from the notorious administrative resource, the acting legislation allows the election commissions maintain non-transparent the procedure of counting of votes.
And this fact gives, in its turn, grounds for questioning reliability of voter’s declaration of intention, as its figures are used by the authorities to advertise personal success.
The situation can also change if voters become more responsible in their attitude to elections demanding control over the procedure of counting of votes and, then, if the status of the very local governing bodies changes. The acting model reveals low degree of influence of the local representative bodies on the lives of citizens: 81% of the polled believe the local Councils and their deputies influence their lives insignificantly or do not influence at all (only 13.4% spoke of the considerable influence).