«

»

ELECTORAL RESOURCES OF CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENCY

As the presidential election approaches, readiness of Belarus’s electorate to take part in it is increasing: 86.8% of respondents answered this question in the affirmative (only 7.1% gave a negative answer, and 6.1% found it difficult to answer this question – almost the same figures we saw in the April survey, but this time the formulation is more strict and 14.9%, who in April said they would “take decision depending on political situation”, claimed ready to vote). What does this mean? According to the authorities – that in general people support A. Lukashenko’s course and want to support him again. According to the opposition, on the contrary, it is a further proof of the majority’s striving for changes. Results of our survey leave no doubts: 37.2% of respondents say quality of their life is “very or rather poor”, 55.7% – “average”, and only 6.6% – “very or rather good;” and only 15.4% are confident that “the situation in Belarus would improve soon”, almost two thirds are convinced that “it would take a long time”. But here another question arises: to what degree this striving for changes (for many voters it would be more correct to say – “expectation of changes”) is linked to A. Lukashenko’s reelection? The Belarusian leader’s ability to “grasp” the masses’ mood is well known, would he be able to “go through” this unusual “turn”, use this powerful potential of striving for changes?

Theoretically, it is possible, there were such cases in the history. But, judging by results of the latest survey, today such possibility is almost reduced to zero: answering the question: “Do you believe Belarus’s average wage could rise fivefold by 2006, if A. Lukashenko is reelected the president?” the overwhelming majority of respondents (58%) answered in the negative (less than one fourth gave a positive answer). Answering the question “Dou you think an improvement of life in Belarus is possible under the present authorities and policy?” only 31.6% answered in the affirmative, whereas 44.2% – in the negative (the rest found it difficult to answer). When asked a open question: “Some people believe that there is no worthy alternative to A. Lukashenko and that he shall remain the president for five years more. What do you think about it?” only 26.6% of respondents said “there is no worthy substitute”, almost 50% believe “there is such a substitute, but I do not know such individual”, 12.1% replied “there is a worthy substitute, and I know such individual”. Consequently, a very important conclusion could be drawn: voters, who are ready to support A. Lukashenko, are afraid of changes, by means of such vote they want to “restore the past”, or at least “to avert the future”. As well as on the contrary: those who want changes, who think about the future, rather than the past, do not pin their hopes upon A. Lukashenko’s reelection for another term. This is evident when comparing prospects for children depending on whom respondents are going to vote for (see Table 1).

Table 1. Assessment of prospects for children depending on choice of candidate for presidency*, %

* Read horizontally
**Answers to the question “In case A. Lukashenko wins”

As we see, respondents, who are going to vote for one of five democratic candidates, hope for improvement of prospects for their children – as a matter of fact, their political choice is motivated by such hopes. Those who are going to support A. Lukashenko have other motives: the number of those who cherish hope for prospects’ improvement is almost equal to the number of those who have no illusions in this respect (39.4% vs 39%). What the president’s supporters are motivated by, if not by concern over their children’s future? Probably, some of them – are the elderly, whose children are grown up and live separately, and, first of all, they care about their own present – pensions and allowances of all sorts. Others – those, for whom A. Lukashenko’s ideological values (planned economy, “strong hand” in politics, integration with Russia, rather than Europe, restoration of super power status, etc. – i.e. values of the past) seem more important than the future of their own children.

The problem, however, is that the overwhelming majority of those who are dissatisfied with the present course and are concerned over the future of their children, sees no clear and persuasive alternative. The number of those who believe there is a worthy substitute to A. Lukashenko, but do not know such person is fourfold higher than the number of those who know such individual (49.4% vs 12.1%). Therefore, the most important issue of the present presidential election – is democratic forces’ consolidation aimed at ensuring that by September 9 (or at least by the second round) the majority of citizens striving for changes is capable of voting for a single candidate.

In this respect the situation (since the previous nationwide survey by IISEPS in April of 2001) has changed significantly. Form the one hand, there is a process of consolidation within five democratic candidates (their statement dated April 25, appearance at the Russian TV channel and other joint actions) and forces that support them (creation of the movement “For New Belarus” headed by V. Leonov). On the other hand, registration of 22 initiative groups (some of which are the authorities’ satellites), undoubtedly, contributes to breaking up, disorientation of democratic electorate. Table 2 shows how ratings of major candidates have changed (the June survey questionnaire was prepared in May and could not include all present candidates).

Table 2. Attitude of electorate towards candidates for presidency*, %

Candidate for presidency

Like

Dislike

Do not know him/her

Trust

Would vote

Would not vote

04’01

06’01

04’01

06’01

04’01

06’01

04’01

06’01

04’01

06’01

04’01

06’01

A. Lukashenko

39.8

42.4

34.4

34.7

1.5

0.7

39.4

39.8

39.8

43.8

36.4

34.0

M. Chigir

21.2

18.9

29.7

32.7

11.9

18.2

19.8

12.6

17.9

17.1

45.1

45.0

S. Domash

9.8

12.5

17.2

17.2

38.9

47.6

7.5

8.8

8.1

12.0

46.2

44.6

V. Goncharik

12.1

11.1

22.9

23.5

23.3

38.6

9.7

6.3

10.1

10.3

45.2

48.0

P. Kozlovsky

7.0

5.5

16.4

19.2

39.0

51.1

3.9

2.1

4.8

6.1

48.8

47.2

S. Kalyakin

3.6

5.1

20.1

20.5

41.1

50.1

2.6

1.9

2.8

4.3

51.7

49.2

Z. Poznyak

7.6

5.7

52.2

56.9

10.0

14.3

5.8

3.0

6.3

5.0

59.7

62.7

L. Sinitsyn

3.4

1.6

14.4

14.5

48.5

61.9

2.0

0.5

2.0

1.9

50.3

49.9

S. Gaidukevich

5.0

4.6

21.2

20.4

36.0

52.7

3.4

1.7

4.0

4.2

50.6

52.1

A. Yaroshuk

3.9

2.1

14.0

13.6

47.5

62.3

1.8

0.8

2.6

2.3

49.2

49.2

Y. Kryzhanovsky

9.7

6.9

17.2

17.2

39.4

52.8

4.1

1.4

4.3

4.1

47.7

50.0

N. Masherova

21.6

14.7

36.1

14.8

17.0

39.9

* Read horizontally

Obviously, first, there is an evident dependence of emotional (like), rational (trust) and behavioral (would vote) components of electorate’s attitude towards candidates for presidency: hierarchy of these ratings has remained almost unchanged (that means that each of them counts).

Second, A. Lukashenko is still the electoral leader, his rating is somewhere around 40%. Ratings of M. Chigir and V. Goncharik “froze” on the previous level and even “swayed” downward. However, ratings of P. Kozlovsky and S. Kalyakin “swayed” upward a little. S. Domash’s rating went up most of all, and now he, but now V. Goncharik, is second in the democratic “five” (see Table 3).

Table 3. Ratings of “five” democratic candidates on the question: “If today you were to choose the president from the following pairs of politicians, whom would you vote for?”, %

Pair of candidates Variant of answer

04’01

06’01

A. Lukashenko – M. Chigir For A. Lukashenko

38.9

42.7

For M. Chigir

20.3

19.0

Against both

14.2

8.4

Would not take part in the election

3.8

4.1

DA/NA

22.8

25.7

A. Lukashenko – S. Domash For A. Lukashenko

38.3

43.2

For S. Domash

11.6

14.8

Against both

19.5

10.3

Would not take part in the election

4.9

4.0

DA/NA

26.7

27.8

A. Lukashenko – V. Goncharik For A. Lukashenko

38.4

44.3

For V. Goncharik

14.1

13.1

Against both

19.1

13.7

Would not take part in the election

5.1

4.2

DA/NA

23.2

22.6

A. Lukashenko – P. Kozlovsky For A. Lukashenko

38.8

43.5

For. P. Kozlovsky

8.1

10.1

Against both

21.4

13.3

Would not take part in the election

5.3

4.2

DA/NA

26.4

28.9

A. Lukashenko – S. Kalyakin For A. Lukashenko

35.4*

43.4

For S. Kalyakin

2.8*

8.2

Against both

23.0*

15.6

Would not take part in the election

7.0*

4.6

DA/NA

31.7*

28.2

* Data for October of 2000

Third, N. Masherova’s rating is skyrocketing. We cannot assess its pace, since we have not watched it before, but in June she caught up with the leader of the democratic “five” M. Chigir, and even began leaving him behind. A comparative analysis of electorates of A. Lukashenko and N. Masherova reveals that their ideological-political views are rather close (for example, concerning issues of integration with Russia, attitude towards NATO’s eastward expansion, change of Belarus’s state symbols in 1996, etc.), though they cross only partially: only 15.8% of A. Lukashenko’s supporters are ready to vote for N. Masherova, and 40.8% of N. Masherova’s electorate – in favor of A. Lukashenko. More than half of N. Masherova’s supporters are rather or partially dissatisfied with A. Lukashenko’s seven-year ruling. That means that participation of many Belarusians idol’s daughter in the September 9 election, and her possibility of entering the second round shall be considered quite seriously, no matter whether she is a hidden satellite of today’s president or she is being moved by other forces (independent press writes about her political and financial support from Y. Primakov). Anyway her potential is not used for the good of Belarus’s democracy and independence: another “electoral revolution” of 1994 could drive our country further back.

In our previous analysis (for April of 2001) we have already considered possible alliances of electorates of candidates for presidency. The serious problem is that if A. Lukashenko’s electorate seems rather stable and united (40.3% of respondents are ready to vote for him in any combination – see Table 3), electorate of the democratic “five” is still “scattered” between different candidates (only 6.9% of respondents are ready to vote for any of them in any combination). However, a comparative analysis of two surveys revealed an evident dynamics (see Table 4).

Table 4. Possible electoral alliances of candidates for presidency*, %

Candidate for presidency

M. Chigir

S. Domash

V. Goncharik

P. Kozlovsky

S. Kalyakin

A. Lukashenko

N. Masherova

Z. Poznyak

M. Chigir (17.1)

X

48.3
27.7

41.5
34.9

30.0
36.5

19.8
46.2

11.3
80.9

29.6
43.8

14.9
62.1

S. Domash (12.0)

69.0
15.8

X

49.0
26.6

38.6
28.7

28.3
41.2

3.5
90.2

24.6
53.1

23.2
58.6

V. Goncharik (10.3)

68.6
17.0

56.8
16.8

X

39.4
24.8

28.8
31.2

15.3
77.9

23.3
44.7

15.4
57.8

P. Kozlovsky (6.1)

83.7
11.4

75.4
13.9

66.4
29.9

X

47.9
28.6

3.9
91.0

39.2
46.3

28.2
56.6

S. Kalyakin (4.3)

77.8
16.4

77.9
16.3

68.6
24.4

67.7
21.7

X

11.5
82.5

44.1
45.4

27.9
65.8

A. Lukashenko (43.8)

4.4
67.1

1.0
64.6

3.6
65.2

0.5
65.5

1.1
64.3

X

15.8
50.7

0.6
79.3

N. Masherova (17.0)

29.9
52.2

17.4
50.0

14.4
61.5

14.2
51.5

11.3
55.8

40.8
44.0

X

8.9
74.5

Z. Poznyak (5.0)

40.2
35.1

28.6
37.7

26.1
40.2

15.1
49.5

7.4
53.1

12.8
69.9

30.0
44.3

X

* Read horizontally. Numerator of each square – percentage of electorate of proper candidate (of the whole electorate indicated in parenthesis after each name), ready to vote for another candidate too, denominator– percentage of electorate of proper candidate going to vote for another candidate under no circumstances. This table should be compared to Table 6 of the previous survey

First, it is obvious that the most “irreconcilable” electorates (i.e. those who do not want to vote for other candidates) are those of A. Lukashenko and N. Masherova. Second, in the process of, in fact, ongoing election campaign A. Lukashenko’s electorate is becoming even more irreconcilable – the number of his supporters ready to vote for another candidate has dropped over two recent months (for example, in April 5.7% of them were ready to vote for V. Goncharik, 3.9% for S. Domash, 3.2% for P. Kozlovsky, today these figures have dropped to 3.6%, 0.5% and 1.0%, respectively). Third, electorates of the democratic “five” are consolidating: the number of supporters of each member, who are ready to vote for other candidates, jumped. For example, the number of M. Chigir’s supporters ready to vote for S. Domash went up 25%, the number of S. Kalyakin’s supporters ready to vote for M. Chigir – by 40%. Fourth, the most “loyal”, i.e. ready to cast their votes for other members of the democratic “five” are electorates of S. Kalyakin (more than half of his supporters is ready to vote for all other democratic candidates) and P. Kozlovsky (more than half of his supporters are ready to vote for M. Chigir, S. Domash and V. Goncharik), whereas the most “irreconcilable” is M. Chigir’s electorate. Fifth, the most acceptable candidates among the democratic “five” (i.e. those who enjoy support of other candidates’ electorate) are M. Chigir and S. Domash: for example, over the last two months the number of supporters of the democratic “five”, who are ready to vote in favor of M. Chigir, has jumped from 11% (supporters of V. Goncharik) to 40% (supporters of S. Kalyakin), in favor of S. Domash – from 16% (supporters of V. Goncharik), to 30% (supporters of S. Kalyakin). Naturally, it is a long way until electorates of all members of the democratic “five” “unite” (as we mentioned earlier, today this “consolidated” electorate amounts to 7% of all voters), and it is hardly possible, but the consolidation process is visible.

Some politicians and analysts believe that the problem of consolidation of democratic forces at all levels – candidates themselves, political and civic structures that support them, and their electorates – is less important than a break of information blockade and nominating a single candidate as soon as possible. Undoubtedly, both problems are of great importance – appearance of the democratic five at Russian television has become an important fact of the election campaign (A. Lukashenko was the first politician to admit it, he promised to deal with Russian TV channels when the election is over). However, all problems of democratic forces’ participation in the election campaign shall not be boiled down to it. So, according to data of our survey, 43.6% of respondents “heard something about the coalition of candidates for presidency, who are against A. Lukashenko’s policy” (59.8% – heard nothing about it, the rest found it difficult to answer) – this is not a few! At the same time, only 16.5% of respondents said they would “vote for a candidate whom the coalition might support” (37.5% would not vote, the rest found it difficult to answer), only 12.2% think this coalition “would be successful and beat A. Lukashenko” (45.6% have an opposite opinion, the rest found it difficult to answer). Such a three-fourfold gap could not be explained only by the fact that “people hear only dirty lie about the opposition, and therefore cannot judge it objectively” (the most popular explanation with the opposition). Answering the open question of our questionnaire “How do Belarusian TV programs about the opposition, where it is subject to harsh criticism, affect your opinion about it?” only 9.6% said it “deteriorated”, 4.5% – “improved”, 36.9% – “remained unchanged”, 41.7% did not watch such programs, 7.3% found it difficult to answer. So, one shall not overestimate influence of Belarus’s national television upon public opinion, including about the opposition (according to the April survey, only 39.3% of adults trust Belarusians TV). But we also shall not underestimate influence of independent press: the latest survey shows that one third of voters read at least one independent capital newspaper (politically orientated newspapers are meant). That means that a wide publication of democratic candidates’ addresses in independent press, as well as materials denouncing the authorities (for example, statements by investigators D. Petrushkevich and O. Sluchek about the present authorities’ involvement in disappearances of well-known people) could seriously affect the election campaign (before the materials were published, according to our April survey, 37.6% of respondents said that “information about possible involvement of a candidate for presidency in disappearances of well-known opposition politicians” would affect their choice, and only 14.8% answered in the negative).

Not surprisingly, democratic candidates and their electorates are more quick to consolidate today, than political parties. Some parties have decided to support one member of the democratic “five”, other parties, which formally declare their support to the democratic “five” as a whole, in fact (in particular, while collecting signatures) call upon their members to support one candidate. Aside from that, such actions complicate relations between democratic candidates, entail mutual distrust and suspicions. When publicized (first of all, when democratic society finds it out), they reduce relatively low ratings of opposition parties (according to the April survey data, only 8.7% of respondents expressed confidence in them, whereas 42% – showed distrust). See Table 5, which proves it.

Table 5. Population’s attitude towards opposition parties and public organizations*, %

Party, public organization

If any of Belarus’s parties and organizations claims to support a candidate for presidency, will it affect you desire to vote for him/her:

Would you like to get familiar with program documents

Will affect positively

Will affect negatively

Unlikely to affect

Women’s Party Nadzeya

10.0

1.6

63.5

16.5

Children of Chernobyl Fund

9.4

1.3

63.5

12.3

United Civic Party (UCP)

8.4

2.0

63.9

8.4

Belarusian Social Democratic Party Narodnaya Hramada (BSDP NH)

7.4

2.6

63.7

6.6

Belarusian Congress of Independent Labor Unions

7.2

1.7

65.2

6.5

Labor Party

7.0

1.5

66.0

6.2

Belarusian People’s Front Adradzhennye (BPF Adradzhennye)

6.4

8.9

60.6

5.3

Maladiy Front

6.1

3.3

63.6

8.9

Belarusian Federation of Labor Unions

6.0

2.4

65.7

4.8

Charter’97

5.3

2.0

64.3

4.1

Belarusian Helsinki Committee

4.9

2.2

64.8

4.9

Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus (LDPB)

4.5

4.8

64.6

7.1

Belarusian Party of Communists (PCB)

4.4

8.6

62.6

5.0

Regional Belarus

3.5

1.9

65.7

4.7

* Read horizontally

As we could see, interest in program documents of leading opposition parties is low (by the way, this question was included in our questionnaire by request of an opposition party’s leader), and publicly expressed party support for democratic candidates has almost no influence upon voters’ choice. The more there are public disputes and quarrels as for whom to support, the more harm party support causes to a candidate. Joint support of parties and major public organizations, as we see it, could increase chances of the democratic “five” to win, but for this purpose it must consolidated to the maximum. From this point of view, idea of nominating a single democratic candidate through the Democratic Forces Coordination Council or the Congress of Democratic Forces before such candidates become obvious (registration, meetings with voters, addresses in mass media, sociological polls ratings, etc.) causes serious doubts – such tactics could lead to a split, rather than consolidation of democratic forces on all levels.

To our mind, a more efficient factor of consolidation of political parties and public organizations is not the search for a single candidate, but joint efforts to ensure independent observance at the presidential election. Obviously, the authorities are getting prepared to a large-scale falsification (a total screening of representatives of political parties and public organizations while forming election commissions is another proof of it). And not only opposition politicians, analysts and journalists think this way, many citizens share this vision: only 46.1% of respondents believe that “the presidential election would free and fair” (more than one third answered in the negative). Its hopes for a free and fair election the majority pins not upon the Central Election Commission (only 45.9% say it “would honestly and carefully count votes at the presidential election”, while almost 40% do not believe it), but upon independent observers: three fourth of respondents said they “would trust the election returns more, if there were independent observers” (only 15.1% gave a negative answer to this question). The authorities are afraid of independent observation more than all party congresses and assemblies altogether. Proofs – an absolutely inadequate reaction to activities of the OSCE AMG related to preparations for such observation. Surprisingly enough, regardless of a massive propagandistic attack by all state-run information channels, only 12.8% of respondents support intentions of Belarusian authorities to “expel the OSCE AMG in Minsk head, Ambassador H.G. Wieck, because his activities run counter to Belarusian laws”, 18.6% do not support it, as they think “his activities do not violate Belarus’s laws” (55% “heard nothing about activities of Ambassador Wieck”, 13.5% found it difficult to answer).

To sum it up we shall underscore that concentration of efforts and resources of all democratic forces at the presidential election shall not exclude shaping a strategy and tactics of actions in case A. Lukashenko is reelected (for example, unbelief in a free and fair election shall not be associated with protest potential: only 10.2% of respondents said if “presidential election returns are falsified” they “would take part in mass protest actions in order to change them”, 43.5% – would “accept them, because it would be impossible to do anything about it”, and 25.1% – “would not believe these returns and would be very upset, but would not to participate in mass protest actions”). It is necessary to be ready to act in such situation: to prepare new “points of rest” – new people, new structures, new mechanisms, otherwise a mass demoralization could hardly be avoided. Thus, surrounding world should be looked at with “wide open eyes”, rather than “wide closed eyes”.