As the survey data shows, three fourth of our fellow citizens understand that improvements are possible in our country only in the distant future (see Table 1).

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you believe that the situation in Belarus would improve soon or it would take a long time?”

The majority of the population still expresses concern, first of all, over social-economic problems – impoverishment, low incomes, unemployment, price rise. In April of 2001 65.4% of respondents pointed out the above problems. More than half of respondents (50.7%) claim that since 1994 – when A. Lukashenko came to power – their living standards have deteriorated (only 11.8% note an improvement). Table 2 reveals that Belarus’s population is skeptical about quality of its life – the absolute majority chose options “average”, “rather poor” and “very poor” (92.9%).

Table  2. Distribution of answers to the question: “How would you assess quality of your life?”

Quality of life is out of the question when almost 20% of respondents could not buy decent food, more than one third – are unable to buy clothing and footwear. Purchasing durable commodities – is unaffordable luxury for 83.4% of voters (see Table 3).

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do present incomes allow you (your family)”*, %

* Data of the April survey

Not surprisingly, respondents say that incomes of 52.0% are below the level of physiological survival (see Table 4). One third (33.0%) of respondents have incomes below the level of simple reproduction. To put it differently, nine of ten Belarusians could hardly survive under the conditions of “socially-oriented market economy” successfully controlled by A. Lukashenko and his team.

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question: “Please, state average income (including wages, pensions and other incomes) per each member of your family last month”

In fact, only 17.5% of respondents hope for improvement of their life in coming years, whereas 50.4% have no doubt it would whether deteriorate, or remain unchanged. Moreover, voters do not associate improvement of their life with the present authorities. So, 44.2% claimed openly that to improve life significantly under the present authorities and policy is impossible (see Table 5), and 58% do not believe in a possibility of income rise by 2006 as A. Lukashenko has promised (see Table 6).

Table 5. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you think a significant improvement of life in Belarus is possible under the present authorities and policy?”

Table 6. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you believe Belarus’s average wage could rise fivefold by 2006, if A. Lukashenko is reelected the president?”

At the same time, voters are rather pessimistic about abilities of the new president to solve Belarus’s problems positively. Although those, who chose opposite answers, split almost fifty-fifty, one should not be deluded, because about 42% of respondents declined to give a definite answer (see Table 7).

Table 7. Distribution of answers to the question: “If A. Lukashenko is reelected the president, do you think he would be able to improve the situation?”

We could suggest that many Belarusians associate poor living standards with directions and pace of Belarus’s economy reforming. The majority of respondents is dissatisfied with economic reforms to this or that degree (see Table 8).

Table 8. Distribution of answers to the question: “To what degree are you satisfied with economic reforms in our country?”*

* Data of the April survey

Since social-economic problems seem the most urgent for electorate, voters believe that the new president should first of all tackle problems of economy. All other problems move to the background, and this fact must be considered during election campaigning.

As for proper economic problems, voters claim that the most acute are those of material security (Table 9).

Table 9. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which economic problem, do you think, must be of top priority for the future president?”

Many Belarusians have already been abroad and managed to see how people live there. In particular, our survey shows that over the last seven years 35.5% of voters have happened to be beyond the former USSR borders (see Table 10). Consequently, many know that in most European countries people live much better. Thus, the majority of Belarusians think that Belarus must follow the economic path of Germany or the USA. Or at least Poland (see Table 11). The role of proper country’s leadership in a well organized civilized life is clear.

Table 10. Distribution of answers to the question: “Has any member of your family happened to be beyond the former USSR during the last seven years?”

Table 11. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which foreign state, do you think, could be a model for economic development of Belarus?”* (open question, more than one answer is possible)

* Data of the April survey
**Other countries received less that 3%

Thus, the analysis shows that one of key tasks for democratic contenders is to debunk a social stereotype, which makes many think that normal and prosperous life in Belarus is impossible. It is necessary to convince electorate of necessity to change the country’s leadership, to make it more professional, more experienced, able not only to publicly shake fists at officials, but also to create proper conditions for a self-regulating economy, attract investors, consolidate the society and spend efforts on solving vital problems of each individual, rather that on holding power at any price.