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ELITE AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

The survey results show that the presidential election, as leaders think, – is the most acute problem the country and citizens are facing today (see Table 1). Leaders put aside even traditional social-economic issues. At the same time one could note that the problem of election raises more concerns with non-state sector representatives, whereas state sector leaders consider economy’s inefficiency a more urgent issue. The topic of population’s impoverishment, actively exploited by the opposition, causes much more concern among state sector leaders, rather than among non-state sector representatives, and this proves how urgent the problem is.

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “What is the most urgent problem our country and people are facing today?”, % (more than one answer is possible)

Table 2 is further proof of it. More than 50% of leaders view quality of their life as poor or rather poor. However, state sector workers assess it as “rather good”, whereas in non-state sector – “rather poor”, and every fifth respondent says it is “poor”.

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

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

Tables 3–5 demonstrate that leaders have almost no hopes for a significant improvement of life under the present authorities.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “Dou you think an improvement of life in Belarus is possible under the present authorities and its course?”, %

Table 4. 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?”, %

Table 5. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you think that during seven years of A. Lukashenko’s ruling possibilities of people’s economic initiative have increased or decreased?”, %

Though their opinions differ depending on structures they represent, this difference is insignificant.

Naturally, the overwhelming majority of leaders, regardless of structures they represent, does not want A. Lukashenko to be the president for another term (see Table 6). This tendency has been observed for a long time and almost without changes.

Table 6. Distribution of answers to the question: “Would you like A. Lukashenko to be the president for another term? “, %

Table 7 reveals that the absolute majority of leaders is going to take part in the upcoming election. In fact, over the last month their number has increased considerably at the expense of those who planned to take decision depending on political situation. Probably, political situation has started to change towards a positive decision. To put it another way, for many leaders situation in the country is becoming more clear and is contributing to their desire to take part in the election.

Table 7. Dynamics of distribution of answers to the question: “Are you going to take part in the upcoming presidential election?”, %

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

Yes

66.7

82.5

74.1

87.2

61.9

79.6

No

13.0

11.3

14.8

6.4

11.9

14.3

Will take decision depending on political situation

20.3

6.2

11.1

6.4

26.2

6.1

We could assume that strengthening of leaders’ intention to participate in the election resulted, first of all, from a clarification of the situation with alternative candidates. Though there is a possibility for new contenders to appear, no new names, except for N. Masherova, showed up in the open rating. Moreover, the leading group of contenders moved far ahead, leaving behind those who enjoy support of individual respondents (see Table 8). All that demonstrates that the circle of possible contenders is becoming more clear and definite, which, in turn, strengthens desire to take part in the election.

Table 8. Dynamics of distribution of answers to the question: “If the presidential election has taken place tomorrow, whom would you vote for?”, % (open question)

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

M. Chigir

10.1

23.8

11.1

22.6

9.5

24.5

S. Domash

15.9

18.8

3.7

6.5

23.8

26.5

V. Goncharik

7.2

10.0

3.7

16.1

9.5

6.1

P. Kozlovsky

7.2

10.0

7.4

9.7

7.1

10.2

A. Lukashenko

1.4

7.5

3.7

19.4

S. Kalyakin

2.5

3.2

2.0

V. Leonov

1.4

2.5

3.2

2.4

2.0

A. Dobrovolsky

2.9

1.3

4.8

2.0

L. Sinitsyn

2.9

1.3

3.7

3.2

2.4

A. Lebedko

1.3

2.0

V. Matskevich

1.3

2.0

N. Masherova

1.3

3.2

* Names of those who were mentioned in the previous poll are included

As one could note, over the last month all major contenders considerably increased their ratings. M. Chigir (23.8%) tops the list again, since he gained votes of non-state sector workers.

S. Domash (18.8%) goes second, and he dominates non-state sector. V. Goncharik and P. Kozlovsky have 10.0% each and take the third and the fourth lines. The former enjoys more support in state sector, and lost votes in non-state sector, the latter saw a rise in both sectors. A. Lukashenko also gained some votes with state sector representatives and is placed fifth. As for other possible contenders, their support is insignificant.

In general, dynamics of the open ratings proves that the list of main contenders for presidency, according to leaders of public opinion and experts, has stabilized. Mounting ratings of key contenders, we believe, is leaders’ reaction to creation of contenders’ democratic coalition. Table 9 seems to confirm this statement.

Table 9. Distribution of answers to the question: “As we know, five prospective opposition candidates for presidency (V. Goncharik, S. Domash, S. Kalyakin, P. Kozlovsky and M. Chigir) have signed an agreement on joint actions during the presidential campaign. What, do you think, consequences of this agreement would be?”, %

Creation of such coalition, many leaders say, does not reduce chances of a democratic candidate. Moreover, almost two fifths of them are confident that this coalition could compete with A. Lukashenko over the presidential mandate. Although many are sure that the agreement has not affected the situation, nevertheless, it could be considered a right move.

However, politicians’ rating with closed question changed a little (see Table 10, 11). So, M. Chigir (57.5%) leads the positive closed rating. V. Goncharik goes second with unchanged 53.8%. At the same time, S. Domash lost more than 5% and is third now with 50.0%. P. Kozlovsky has 45.0% and is placed fourth as last month. In general, major contenders forming the coalition retained their positions. Consequently, S. Kalyakin, who joined their ranks, enjoyed a rise in his rating. Among other contenders only L. Sinitsyn and A. Lukashenko received an insignificant number of new votes, what, however, did not change their placing.

Table 10. Dynamics of the positive closed rating of major contenders, %

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

M. Chigir

52.2

57.5

55.6

58.1

50.0

57.1

V. Goncharik

53.7

53.8

48.2

41.9

57.1

61.2

S. Domash

55.1

50.0

37.0

29.0

66.7

63.3

P. Kozlovsky

45.0

45.0

40.8

41.9

47.6

46.9

S. Kalyakin

13.0

20.0

11.1

9.7

14.3

26.5

A. Yaroshuk

34.8

20.0

25.9

6.5

40.5

28.6

Z. Poznyak

14.5

11.3

7.4

9.7

19.0

12.2

L. Sinitsyn

8.7

11.3

7.4

16.1

9.5

8.2

Y. Kryzhanovsky

7.2

7.5

3.7

9.5

12.2

A. Lukashenko

2.9

7.5

7.4

19.4

S. Gaidukevich

2.9

2.5

3.7

2.4

4.1

Table  11. Dynamics of the negative closed rating of major contenders, %

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

M. Chigir

29.0

20.0

37.0

22.6

23.8

18.4

V. Goncharik

24.6

22.5

33.3

35.5

19.0

14.3

P. Kozlovsky

30.4

26.3

33.3

32.3

28.6

22.4

S. Domash

20.3

27.5

33.3

41.9

11.9

18.4

A. Yaroshuk

31.9

35.0

40.8

45.2

26.2

28.6

S. Kalyakin

60.

55.0

66.7

71.0

57.1

44.9

L. Sinitsyn

62.3

68.8

63.0

58.1

61.9

75.5

Y. Kryzhanovsky

69.6

73.8

77.8

77.4

64.3

71.4

Z. Poznyak

75.4

75.0

81.5

74.2

71.5

75.5

S. Gaidukevich

82.6

85.0

85.2

83.9

81.0

85.7

A. Lukashenko

92.8

91.3

81.5

77.4

100.0

100.0

M. Chigir (58.1%), V. Gocnharik and P. Kozlovsky (41.9% each) have the highest positive closed rating with state sector workers. But if the former and the latter got some new votes, V. Goncharik’s loss is visible. L. Sinitsyn and A. Lukashenko doubled their ratings with state sector leaders.

In non-state sector the situation is different. Here S. Domash is the leader with 63.3%, however, he lost more than 3 points. Following him V. Goncharik (61.2%) and M. Chigir (57.1%) gained a lot and are close to the leader. S. Kalyakin’s ratings jumped as well.

Ratings of A. Yaroshuk fell sharply in all sectors. We believe it resulted from his passiveness over possibility to become a candidate for presidency.

Th lowest negative rating is that of M. Chigir (20.0%), since the previous survey he has gained 9 points. V. Goncharik (22.5%) and P. Kozlovsky (26.3%) are placed second and third, respectively, with improved ratings. However, S. Domash’s negative rating went up 7 points and he is only fourth.

A. Lukashenko (91.3%) and S. Gaidukevich (85.0%) have the worst negative ratings.

M. Chigir (22.6%), P. Kozlovsky (32.3%) and V. Goncharik (35.5%) have the minimal negative ratings with state structures’ representatives. M. Chigir’s rating improved (it went down almost by 40%). The worst negative rating with state sector – S. Gaidukevich (83.9%), Y. Kryzhanovsky and A. Lukashenko (77.4% each).

The best negative ratings with non-state structures – V. Goncharik (14.3%), as well as M. Chigir and S. Domash (18.4% each), the worst – A. Lukashenko (100.0%) and S. Gaidukevich (85.7%).

It could be noted that positive and negative closed ratings of participants of the democratic coalition (excluding S. Domash) have improved noticeably, and simultaneously, not at the expense of those undetermined. We believe it resulted form the coalition creation. Aside from that, such improvement of ratings did not cut reserves for further strengthening of “five”.

As Table 12 shows, in a hypothetical second round of the presidential election the overwhelming majority of opinion leaders and experts is ready to vote for any competitor of A. Lukashenko. In each pair he “looses” to all competitors considered. Especially to M. Chigir, V. Goncharik and S. Domash.

Table 12. Dynamics of distribution of answers to the question: “If you were to choose the president from the following two politicians, whom would you vote for?”, %

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

04’01

05’01

A. Lukashenko – M. Chigir
For A. Lukashenko

5.8

7.5

14.8

19.4

For M. Chigir

78.3

80.0

59.3

71.0

90.4

85.8

Against both

8.7

7.5

14.8

6.4

4.8

8.2

DA/NA

7.2

5.0

11.1

3.2

4.8

6.0

A. Lukashenko – V. Goncharik
For A. Lukashenko

5.8

7.5

14.8

19.4

For V. Goncharik

78.3

76.3

63.0

54.8

88.1

89.8

Against both

5.8

12.5

3.7

19.4

7.1

8.2

DA/NA

10.1

3.7

18.5

6.4

4.8

2.0

A. Lukashenko – S. Domash
For A. Lukashenko

5.8

7.5

14.8

19.4

For S. Domash

69.6

72.5

48.1

51.5

83.3

85.8

Against both

13.0

16.3

18.6

22.7

9.5

12.2

DA/NA

11.6

3.7

18.5

6.4

7.2

2.0

A. Lukashenko – P. Kozlovsky
For A. Lukashenko

5.8

7.5

14.8

19.4

For P. Kozlovsky

69.6

65.0

48.1

51.5

83.3

73.5

Against both

10.1

17.5

11.1

19.4

9.5

16.3

DA/NA

14.5

10.0

26.0

9.7

7.2

10.2

A. Lukashenko – S. Kalyakin*
For A. Lukashenko

7.5

19.4

For S. Kalyakin

46.3

35.5

53.1

Against both

33.8

35.5

32.7

DA/NA

12.4

9.6

14.2

* This pair was not offered in the April survey

Over the last month support of M. Chigir and S. Domash eased up, but V. Goncharik and P. Kozlovsky lost in this respect. However, these fluctuations are insignificant. The number of those who are going to vote against both candidates (excluding pair A. Lukashenko – M. Chigir) crept up in all cases. At the same time, the number of those undetermined dropped, what, we believe, reflects leaders’ opinion reaction to increased activity of contenders and the coalition creation. Consequently, we could suppose that the majority of public opinion leaders has taken the decision with regard to all possible participants of the presidential race: most probably, they would support any participant of the coalition.

M. Chigir (71.0%) enjoys the widest support among state sector leaders, over the last month it jumped 11.7 points. V. Goncharik (54.8%) lost 8.2 point and is second. S. Domash and P. Kozlovsky gained some votes and shared the third place having 51.5% each.

V. Goncharik (89.8%) tops the list among non-state structures. His supports went up a little. M. Chigir and S. Domash (85.8% each) are placed second and third. The former lost some votes, the latter, on the contrary, gained more support. Then P. Kozlovsky (73.5%) goes, but he wasted 10 points.

As Table 12 shows, leaders of state and non-state structures leave A. Lukashenko almost no chances to win the second round. They give preference to any representative of the coalition, even S. Kalyakin, and their support to the members of “five” remains steadily high.

Table 13 proves that the majority of leaders doubts that the upcoming election could be free and fair. Naturally, non-state sector leaders have more doubts, keeping in mind experience of the previous campaigns.

Table  13. Distribution of answers to the question: “Would the 2001 presidential election in Belarus be free and fair?”, %

Nonetheless, the majority of leaders are going to take part in the election and their intention is mounting (see Table 7). The majority of electorate shares this vision.

Summing it up, the following conclusions could be drawn. First, the presidential election, as the majority of leaders and experts say, – is the most urgent problem our country and its citizens are facing today. The majority of respondents say the quality of their life is poor or rather poor, and they cherish no hopes for an improvement under the present authorities. Thus, the overwhelming majority, regardless of structures they represent, steadily does not want A. Lukashenko to be the president for another term.

Second, the situation with possible competitors of A. Lukashenko is becoming for leaders more clear. Mostly they are likely to support members of the democratic coalition and are ready to vote for any of them. Practically, leaders expect no new contenders.

Third, in terms of leaders’ support to participants of the coalition M. Chigir tops the list, both his ratings – closed and open – improved. Support of other participants of the coalition is rather high, but contradictory: S. Domash is second in the open rating, V. Goncharik – in the closed rating. Then go P. Kozlovsky and S. Kalyakin. But in a hypothetical second round they all “beat” A. Lukashenko.

Fourth, the majority of leaders does not believe that the upcoming election could be free and fair, but even today they are ready to take part in it. Thus, the strategy aimed at ensuring maximum turnout, first of all young voters, is prospective and correct.