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POPULATION’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

As the survey data shows, 88.4% of voters are going to take part in the upcoming presidential election (see Table 1). In June the figure was 86.8%. That means interest in the election is still going up.

Table 1. Dynamics of distribution of answers to the question: “Are you going to take part in the upcoming presidential election?”, %

Variant of answer*

06’01

08’01

Will certainly vote

86.8

57.2

Most probably will vote

31.2

Most probably will not vote

7.1

5.6

Will definitely not vote

4.0

* Here and in most cases below options “Find it difficult to answer” and “No answer” are excluded

The main reasons why every tenth voter is not going to take part in the September 9 election are shown in Table 2. As one could see, the dominant of them is disbelief in possibility of changing the current situation. On the other hand, less than in 10% of cases non-participation is motivated by dissatisfaction with the current situation.

Table 2. Motives of supposed non-participation in the September 9 election, %

Table 3 shows that the number of those who are satisfied with A. Lukashenko’s seven-year ruling is increasing, and the number of those dissatisfied is decreasing. It is happening not at the expense of “undetermined” respondents, but of those who chose options “partially satisfied” or “partially dissatisfied”.

Table 3. Dynamics of distribution of answers to the question: “Are you satisfied with A. Lukashenko’s ruling?”, %

The noted tendency is reflected in changing ratings of the main participants of the current political process. So, Table 4 reveals a considerable rise in open ratings of most of politicians mentioned by respondents. V. Goncharik (more than 10%) and S. Domash (by 9.3%) enjoyed the most significant growth. A. Lukashenko’s open ratings also went up by 8.1%. The above mentioned growth resulted mainly from a sharp fall (from 52.1% to 26.4%) in the number of those still uncertain. Supposedly, the number of “undetermined” respondents would continue going down thereby contributing to a growth in ratings of all the participants of the political process.

Table 4. Dynamics of the open ratings of participants of the political process, %

* Names of those who received more than 3% and was mentioned in the previous opinion poll

The closed positive rating is close to the open rating (see Table 5). It is higher than the open rating for A. Lukashenko (by 3%) and S. Gaidukevich (by 0.8%), and is almost the same for S. Domash and V. Goncharik. The main motives for choosing candidates from the offered list are given in Table 6. As one could see, in more than two thirds of cases respondents chose the most important qualities for a proper candidate (“He expresses interests of people such as I am”, “He has real power and would be able to improve the situation in the country”).

Table 5. The positive closed rating of participants of the political process, %

Table  6. Motive of choice while answering the question determining the positive closed rating, %

Using positive ratings, we will try to make a prognosis of their maximum possible growth. To this purpose we’ll use the same method as applied to the June data. We distribute the number of the “undetermined” (minus those who are not going to participate in the election – 9.6%) pro-rate votes of each politician (See line “Prognosis” in Tables 4 and 5). In both cases A. Lukashenko seems the most preferable prospect. In fact, the real maximum of positive ratings by the time of voting could be different and our estimates must be treated with caution.

As for the closed negative rating, it is displayed in Table 7. The data shows that S. Domash has the best figures, A. Lukashenko – the worst. However, this indicator depends considerably on publicity degree of a proper candidate. As we could see from Table 8, such degree varies from one candidate to another. As for A. Lukashenko, only 10.7% haven’t made their mind yet, for S. Domash – 49.2% of respondents. The negative rating data derives from here. In order to exclude influence of candidates’ “recognition”, we’ll adjust the closed negative rating considering the number of uncertain voters and those who are not going to vote (See line “Adjusted rating” of Table 7). As a result, ratings jumped noticeably, though the politicians’ ranking remained the same (except for S. Gaidukevich who drove A. Lukashenko out from the last place).

Table 7. The negative closed rating of participants of the political process, %

Table 8 shows voters’ attitude towards the participants of the political process. A. Lukashenko (52.2%) enjoys the most positive rating, S. Gaidukevich (17.2%) – the least positive. Distributing undetermined voters pro-rate estimates of each candidate, we’ll get a prognosis of positive attitude, which is shown in Table 8. A. Lukashenko’s advantage over democratic candidates is not very impressive. However, it is necessary to state once again, by the time of voting real figures might be different. Therefore, our estimates could be considered as guidance to action.

Table 8. Distribution of answers to the question: “What is your attitude towards each of the below listed politicians?”, %

Table 9 proves the conclusion that A. Lukashenko has advantage over his rivals.

Table 9. Distribution of answers to the question: “Who of the below mentioned politicians has the best chances to enter the second round of the presidential election?”, % (more than one answer is possible)

More than 80% are confident that he has the best chances to enter the second round. At the same time 47.5% are confident there would be no second round (Table 10). To put it differently, the president, according to them, would be elected in the first round. As stated above, A. Lukashenko has the best chances.

Table 10. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you think the president would be elected in the first round or the second round would be necessary?”, %

Nevertheless, a question modeling all possible variants of a hypothetical second round allowed to reveal respondents’ opinion regarding prospects for each politician as compared to A. Lukashenko (Table 11). As we could see, all the contenders saw their ratings going up. But when A. Lukashenko enjoyed a rise in 6–7%, his rivals – from 9.2% (S. Gaidukevich) to 11.3% (V. Goncharik). Such growth resulted from a decrease in the number of undetermined respondents.

Table 11. Dynamics of distribution of answers to the question: “If today you were to choose Belarus’ president from the following politicians, whom would you have voted for?”, %

Pair of contenders Variant of answer

06’01

08’01

А. Lukashenko – S. Domash For A. Lukashenko

43.2

49.9

For S. Domash

14.8

25.6

Against both

10.3

9.1

Would not vote

4.0

4.6

DA/NA

27.7

10.8

А. Lukashenko – V. Goncharik For A. Lukashenko

44.3

50.3

For V. Goncharik

13.1

24.4

Against both

13.7

10.3

Would not vote

4.2

5.0

DA/NA

24.7

10.0

A. Lukashenko – S. Gaidukevich For A. Lukashenko

43.4

49.2

For S. Gaidukevich

8.2

17.4

Against both

15.6

15.1

Would not vote

4.6

3.9

DA/NA

28.2

14.4

Table 12 proves that many supporters of A. Lukashenko are seriously mistaken regarding their elect. Provided such high ratings of their favorite, only 35.4% of voters want the future president to be a proponent of continuing the current course, (41.4% are against), 23.9% want him to be a proponent of planned economy (48.6% are against), 22.7% – want him to be a proponent of power concentration in the hands of the president (46.3% are against). That means that A. Lukashenko’s adherers, in fact, do not support his main political postulates. Only regarding unification with Russia the number of supporters almost coincides with A. Lukashenko’s rating.

Table 12. Distribution of answers to the question: “What, do you think, the future president of Belarus should be?”, %

Variant of answer

08’01

Supporter of the current course continuation

35.4

Supporter of sweeping changes to the current course

41.4

Does not matter

20.7

Supporter of Belarus’ independence

36.9

Supporter of integration with Russia

45.9

Does not matter

14.7

Supporter of market economy

48.6

Supporter of planned economy

23.9

Does not matter

24.2

Supporter of power division

46.3

Supporter of power concentration in the president’s hands

22.7

Does not matter

26.8

Table 13 reveals respondents’ prognosis with regard to the election returns. Almost three fourths of respondents are confident that the population would vote in favor of A. Lukashenko leaving his opponents almost no chances. The well-known “spiral of silence”, which reflects uncertainty of democratic electorate of its power and of possibility to oppose falsification of the election results by authorities, as compared to the previous survey, has “twisted” even more meaning there are much more problems for A. Lukashenko’s opponents.

Table  13. Distribution of answers to the question: “Whom, do you think, the majority of voters would vote for at the presidential election?”, %

As we could notice from Table 14, the number of those who chose alternative answers jumped. At the same time the number of those who would like to replace A. Lukashenko, but do not know with whom, dropped by 20%. That means that a more active campaigning by a democratic candidate could be able to further cut this group in favor of proponents of the first president. Under the most favorable conditions, their number might outstrip 50% of electorate.

Table  14. Distribution of answers to the question: “A. Lukashenko has been ruling the country for seven years already. Some people say there is no worthy substitute for him. What do you think in this respect? “, %

Table 15 shows that only 37.1% of voters believe the Central Election Commission is guided only by law, what strengthens their uncertainty. From Table 16 we see that 48% of respondents believe the upcoming election is going to be free and fair, 37.9% – do not believe it.

Table  15. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which of the below listed statements do you agree with?”, %

Table  16. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you expect the upcoming presidential election to be free and fair, and the would-be winner to receive the largest number of votes?”, %

Almost two thirds of respondents would trust the election results more if there were independent observers (see Table 17). It proves that all attempts by the authorities to depict independent observers as “agents of imperialism”, “General Grib’s guerrillas”, etc., found no support among voters. Moreover, even before the election more than one third (33.9%) of respondents is confident the election returns must not be trusted, since election commissions do not include representatives of the opposition (see Table 18).

Table  17. Distribution of answers to the question: “Would you trust the election results more, if there were independent observers?”, %

Table  18. Distribution of answers to the question: “Could the election returns be trusted if there are no opposition representatives in regional election commissions?”, %

However, only 11% of voters have intentions of protesting against falsification of the election results (see Table 19). Following notorious Belarus’ “tolerance” two thirds of respondents would accept a status quo. As compared to the previous opinion poll, the ratio of different variants almost hasn’t changed.

Table 19. Dynamics of distribution of answers: “If you believe the presidential election results are falsified, how would you most probably act?”, %

Supposing all those who gave no definite answer to this question would join the “protestors”, seven out of ten are going to keep silent over authorities’ arbitrariness. Their number could be much higher, because words are far away from actions.

Thus, the analysis shows that voters are increasingly more likely to take part in the September 9 election. Different ratings of all the participants of the presidential race, as compared to the previous survey, jumped. However, it did not affect the overall situation: A. Lukashenko tops the list leaving the rest far behind, S. Gaidukevich is the last.

The beginning of the presidential race shows that electoral potential of candidates from the opposition camp eased up a little. A. Lukashenko also gained in this respect. It is a further proof of electorate’s polarization, voters’ delimitation regarding candidates for presidency. The number of undetermined voters is falling. Therefore, now the election results depend mainly on election campaigning and PR-actions.

“Twisting” of the so-called “spiral of silence” is being intensified, demanding a sharp increase in propaganda and campaigning to overcome uncertainty of the protest electorate of its power. Special efforts must be spared to prepare independent monitoring over voting process, before voting and poll.