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ENTREPRENEURS AND POLITICAL PROCESS

A. Lukashenko simply cannot love entrepreneurs. Many people certainly remember his historical passage about “lousy fleas”. Of course, he has all grounds to dislike them. And not simply because they don’t give him reciprocity. Entrepreneurs are not pensioners! They are mainly the men (63.5%) aged 25-50 (78.3%) who has secondary vocational or higher education (95.9%) and live, first of all, in Minsk (31.5%) or other large cities (38.7%).

They cannot be tamed with either promises or charisma or threats. Severe inner competition and permanent struggle with the government for existence made them ardent opponents of the contemporary Belarusian economic model. And while politics, a classic said, is a concentrated expression of economics, the political standpoints of entrepreneurs are not a bit the standpoints of the president’s electorate.
The polling results speak volumes on the issue. Thus, only 14.5% of the respondents who are employees of the private sector (according to the polling data – 12.9% of citizens) confide in the president while among the entire population they are 33.6% (See Table 1). On the whole, the citizens equally trust in state-run and non-state mass media (43.8-45%) but employees of the private sector trust in non-state media mainly (60.3%). The traders give little credence to the government, Parliament, Orthodox Church, trade unions within the Federation of Trade Unions Belarusian, etc. Unlike all other citizens, they trust less than others in the state institutions and in all that promotes, in their opinion, state interests.

Table 1. Confidence in state and public institutions, %

Furthermore, employees of the private sector cherish no piety to A. Lukashenko himself. If the presidential election takes place tomorrow, only 9.9% of traders would vote for A. Lukashenko whereas among the entire population there are 26.2% of those who would vote for him (See Table 2). An overwhelming majority of traders (85.9%) are convinced another candidate should be elected president in the election to come. Only 4% of them are ready to vote at the referendum for amendments to the Constitution that would allow A. Lukashenko stay his third term.

Table 2. Attitude of the electorate towards A. Lukashenko, %

Social characteristics
Private sector employees
All respondents
At the new presidential election I would vote for: (open question)
A. Lukashenko
9.9
26.2
V. Goncharik
5.4
2.6
S. Gaidukevich
3.7
2.3
Should A. Lukashenko be elected the president once again or another candidate should take this post?
Elect again A. Lukashenko
7.6
23.2
Another candidate should take the post
85.9
64.1
At the hypothetical referendum on the amendments to the Constitution allowing A. Lukashenko stay his third term in office, I would vote:
For
4.0
17.1
Against
62.3
47.0
Politicians most fully representing respondents’ interests: (open question)
S. Gaidukevich
7.3
3.7
S. Shushkevich
6.5
4.9
V. Vecherko
5.7
2.6
A. Lebedko
5.6
3.6
A. Lukashenko
4.9
16.5
N. Statkevich
4.0
2.4
V. Goncharik
3.5
2.3
If let alone the hypothetical necessity of electing new president, A. Lukashenko greatly loses (4.9%) in the degree of representing trader’s interests to such politicians like S. Gaidukevich (7.3%), S. Shushkevich (6.5%), V. Vecherko (5.7%) and A. Lebedko (5.6%).
As regards the issues that can to a certain extent serve indicators of the democratization level in the country, traders’ viewpoint is more clearly determined than that of other voters. Thus, nearly 80% of them are to a different degree dissatisfied with the process of democratization in the country, while among the entire population these are 63% (See Table 3). Slightly less (77.6%) are convinced that human rights are not observed in Belarus. Over half of them (50.5%) estimates the activity of the opposition parliamentary group Republic in the positive and 53.8% take positively various actions of protest organized by the democratic forces. Almost three thirds of the traders say all political forces should be represented within the election commissions and not only the appointees of the “vertical”.

Table 3. Estimation of the level of democracy in the country, %

Social characteristics
Private sector employees
All respondents
Satisfaction with democratization in Belarus:
Rather/absolutely dissatisfied
79.5
63.0
Absolutely/rather satisfied
16.5
26.7
Are human rights observed in Belarus?
No/rather no
77.6
62.4
Yes/rather yes
18.7
32.2
Attitude to the deputy group Republic:
Positive
50.5>
33.1
Negative
2.6
15.4
Attitude to the action of democratic forces (meetings, marches, demonstrations, etc.):
Positive
53.8
32.7
Negative
9.3
16.7
Should representatives of the opposition be included into election commissions?
Yes
74.8
59.1
No
2.7
13.6
Traders’ opinion on the recent election into the local councils also differs from the standpoints of the entire population. At times it is even alternative. Thus, traders gave fewer votes for A. Lukashenko’s supporters than for his opponents and, on the contrary, all other electorate cast more votes for the president’s supporters (See Table 4).
Finally, there’s a marked difference between the private sector employees and all other respondents, as regards the preferred mass media (See Table 5). There are 1.5-fold more NTV viewers among traders than among all other citizens and almost twofold fewer traders watch the officious BT. Instead of the Belarusian state radio channels, traders prefer FM stations. Komsomolskaya Pravda is more popular among traders (33.6%) while others choose “serious newspaper for serious people” (23.7%).

Table 4. Attitude to the recent election into the Local Councils, %

Social characteristics
Private sector employees
All respondents
Voted at the election into the Local Councils:
For candidate-opponent of A. Lukashenko
16.7
9.9
For candidate-supporter of A. Lukashenko
7.7
21.6
Did violations or arbitrary rule within the election commissions take place during the election into the Local Councils?
Yes
29.8
19.6
No
24.0
36.0
Are you satisfied with the results of the election into the Local Councils?
No
22.5
23.5
Yes
18.4
33.8
Do you trust the announced results of the election into the Local Councils?
No
30.4
26.2
Yes
28.8
45.7

Table 5. Preferences in the sphere of mass media, % (open questions)

Social characteristics
Private sector employees
All respondents
TV channels you watch:
ONT
65.5
73.1
RTR
61.8
54.2
NTV
61.2
39.3
Belarusian Television (BT)
28.2
54.1
Radio stations you listen to:
FM-stations
74.3
45.6
Local radio
16.4
14.2
Belarusian state-run radio
9.9
23.6
Newspapers you read:
“Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi”
33.6
21.2
“Argumenty i Facty v Belarusi”
15.0
11.7
“Sovetskaya Belorussia”
14.4
23.7
“Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta”
10.5
3.9
“Narodnaya Volya”
9.9
3.8
The above data supports the idea that private sector employees have the viewpoints utterly different from all other electorate. They are more focused on democratic values, don’t support the system of personal power being currently formed in Belarus and strive to real changes in their living. Therefore, this social group should be regarded as a natural reserve of the Belarusian political opposition.