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ELITE AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Even before the presidential election date was set, political situation in the country was very complex. Proofs could be found in totally unexpected places. For example, some senior officials have begun to conceal their attitude towards political events in the country, declining to fill in our questionnaire, though previously they did it. Such denials we received, for example, in the presidential administration, high courts and its bodies, the Central Election Commission, the Chamber of Representatives, some ministries and state-run newspapers. It seems that officials have received a proper ban. Some of them fear that anonymity of questioning is not guaranteed. We assert that the rule of anonymity has never been violated and we guarantee it for all of our future procedures.

The survey results show that the majority of public opinion leaders, regardless of structures they represent, are not satisfied with A. Lukashenko’s ruling (see Table 1). As compared to the previous leader poll (January of 2001), the ratio has remained almost unchanged. Among state sector leaders the number of dissatisfied is lower, but is high enough (74.1%) and also hasn’t changed.

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “Are you satisfied with ?. Lukashenko’s ruling?”*, %

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

Table  2. Distribution of answers to the question: “What is the most acute problem for our country and its citizens?”, % (open question, more than one answer is possible)

What does this discontent stem from? As one could see, in most cases leaders do not share key principles of A. Lukashenko’s course, do not support purposeful direction of public development, do not agree with domestic and foreign policies of the authorities. So, today’s the most actual problems for the country and the population leaders consider banal impoverishment of the population, absence of democracy and inefficiency of economy, rather that “threat of world capital” from NATO or USA, as state-run mass media are trying to put it (see Table 2). In fact, the problem of impoverishment causes much more concern among leaders of state structures, what does not correspond to victorious reports about achievements in this sphere. Representatives of non-state sector are mostly concerned over the problem of democracy absence. As for the presidential election, it took top priority with all respondents (first of all, leaders from non-state structures). It is quite understandable: changing authority in a democratic way seems problematic.

Belarus’s national interests leaders see in a different way (see Table 3). If the country’s leadership is constantly galvanizing the idea of recreating “great Slavic state”, leaders consider independence the major national interest. Naturally, this thought is closer to representatives of non-state structures (first place and almost two thirds of votes!), and leaders of state structures placed it second after economic reforms. It is noteworthy that democratization as a national interest leaders put third.

Table  3. Distribution of answers to the question: “What, do you think, are Belarus’s national interests?”, % (open question, more than one answer is possible)

Table 4 reveals that the overwhelming majority of leaders, regardless of structures they represent, are dissatisfied with economic reforms in the country, though they consider it the second national interest.

Table  4. Distribution of answers to the question: “To what degree are you satisfied with economic reforms in our country?”, %

As for economic development model, leaders’ opinions noticeably diverge from the official line. If previously the authorities persistently suggested the necessity of developing Belarusian variant of “market socialism”, recently the system of “Chinese socialism” has actively been publicized as the right model. Preferences of leaders are absolutely different (see Table 5).

Table  5. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which foreign country, do you think, could be used as economic model for Belarus?”, % (more than one answer is possible)

Although respondents mentioned a wide range of possible models (26 countries), the first place was given to neighboring Poland, others lagged far behind. And leaders of state and non-state structures were surprisingly unanimous in this respect. Then Lithuania, Germany and the Czech Republic follow with an equal rating. As for Chinese, and Iraqi or Cuban variants of economic development, only several leaders noted expediency of such alternative, but we guess – they were mostly kidding. It is worth mentioning that Russia’s economic experience attracts no one!

The difference between Belarus’s elite and the authorities is clearly seen from answers to the question about democracy of the Belarusian state. As we know, A. Lukashenko has repeatedly assured international community that Belarus is the most democratic state in the world. However, the overwhelming majority of public leaders think differently (see Table 6). As one could note, even among state structures’ representatives 80% are confident that Belarus is not a democratic country. Not surprisingly even more leaders do not want A. Lukashenko to be the president for another term (see Table 7). As compared to the previous survey (January 2001), their ratio jumped by 5%, including by answers from representatives of state sector.

Table  6. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you think Belarus is a democratic state?”, %

Table  7. Distribution of answers to the question: “Would you like ?. Lukashenko to be the president for another term?”, %

How does Belarus’s elite answer the question: “If not Lukashenko, then who?” which is traditional for any audiences? In this respect elite’s opinion is quite definite: “Anyone, but not Lukashenko!” But “anyone” seems not so definite. So, answers to open question showed some changes in ratings of major possible candidates for presidency if compared to January. S. Domash topped the list, though he lost 3% of votes (see Table 8). And mainly leaders from non-state sector contributed to it. M. Chigir was placed second and he lost 2% as well. January’s leader V. Goncharik is put third-fourth today with his rating dropping almost threefold (a slump in support in state sector). P. Kozlovsky caught up with him and his rating eased up more than 3%. A. Yaroshuk’s rating showed signs of getting up, but it is early to speak about a certain tendency. Low rating of A. Lukashenko fell again.

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

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

01’01

04’01

01’01

04’01

01’01

04’01

S. Domash

18.9

15.9

3.3

3.7

29.5

23.8

M. Chigir

12.2

10.1

10.0

11.1

13.6

9.5

V. Goncharik

20.3

7.2

33.3

3.7

11.4

9.5

P. Kozlovsky

4.1

7.2

7.4

6.8

7.1

A. Yaroshuk

4.1

4.3

3.3

3.7

4.5

4.8

V. Leonov

1.4

1.4

3.3

2.4

A. Lukashenko

4.1

1.4

10.0

3.7

Z. Poznyak

1.4

1.4

3.3

2.4

* Names of those mentioned in both surveys are included

At the same time low ratings of key contenders demonstrate that elite has not determined a favorite yet, and any of them, under favorable conditions, could count on this role. Consequently, strengthening of each one of “five” could be expected.

Answers to closed question reveal a different distribution of politicians (see Table 9). It could be noted that both in the positive part (will vote) and in the negative part (will vote under no circumstances), favorites remain the same, but their placing is different. S. Domash (55.1%) leads the positive part, as in the open rating. V. Goncharik is second with 53.7%, he drove M. Chigir (52.2%) to the third place. Then P. Kozlovsky (45.0%) and A. Yaroshuk (34.8%) go. In fact, difference in ratings of the first troika is very small. P. Kozlovsky is very close to them.

Table  9. Distribution of answers to the question: “For whom of below mentioned politicians you are ready to vote at the presidential election, and for whom you are going to vote under no circumstances?”, %

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

Ready to vote

Would not vote

DA/NA

Ready to vote

Would not vote

DA/NA

Ready to vote

Would not vote

DA/NA

S. Domash

55.1

20.3

24.6

37.0

33.3

29.7

66.7

11.9

21.4

V. Goncharik

53.7

24.6

21.7

48.2

33.3

18.5

57.1

19.0

23.8

M. Chigir

52.2

29.0

18.8

55.6

37.0

7.4

50.0

23.8

26.2

P. Kozlovsky

45.0

30.4

24.6

40.8

33.3

25.9

47.6

28.6

23.8

A. Yaroshuk

34.8

31.9

33.3

25.9

40.8

33.3

40.5

26.2

33.3

Z. Poznyak

14.5

75.4

10.1

7.4

81.5

11.1

19.0

71.5

9.5

S. Kalyakin

13.0

60.9

26.1

11.1

66.7

22.2

14.3

57.1

28.6

L. Sinitsyn

8.7

62.3

29.0

7.4

63.0

29.6

9.5

61.9

28.6

Y. Kryzhanovsky

7.2

69.6

23.2

3.7

77.8

18.5

9.5

64.3

26.2

S. Gaidukevich

2.9

82.6

14.5

3.7

85.2

11.1

2.4

81.0

16.6

A. Lukashenko

2.9

92.8

4.3

7.4

81.5

11.1

100.0

Representatives of state sector are likely to support first of all M. Chigir (55.6%), V. Goncharik (48.2%) and P. Kozlovsky (40.8%). Non-state sector leaders prefer S. Domash (66.7%), V. Goncharik (57.1%) and M. Chigir (50.0%). It could be noted that non-state sector representatives are more actively supporting any favorite (excluding M. Chigir), than their colleagues from state sector, and higher positive ratings prove it.

Negative rating shows the same. The lowest – S. Domash (20.3%), V. Goncharik (24.6%), M. Chigir (29.0%), P. Kozlovsky (30.4%) and A. Yaroshuk (31.9%). The highest – A. Lukashenko (92.8%), S. Gaidukevich (82.6%) and Z. Poznyak (75.4%).

State structures’ representatives gave minimal negative rating to S. Domash, V. Goncharik and P. Kozlovsky (33.3% each), maximal – S. Gaidukevich (85.2%), A. Luka-shenko and Z. Poznyak (81.5% each). Non-state sector leaders gave minimal to S. Domash (11.9%), V. Goncharik (19.0%) and M. Chigir (23.8%), maximal – A. Lukashenko (100%!), S. Gaidukevich (81.0%) and Z. Poznyak (71.5%).

The number of those who declined to provide a definite answer to this question seems quite interesting. If leaders have a clear idea about contenders, there are minimum indefinite answers. And visa versa. Therefore with proper “campaigning” some contenders could count on additional leaders’ votes (especially those with low negative rating). Others have almost exhausted their possibilities. For example, A. Yaroshuk, S. Domash and P. Kozlovsky have large reserve for positive ratings rise. Whereas A. Lukashenko, Z. Poznyak and S. Gaidukevich have basically no chances. M. Chigir’s chances among state sector leaders are relatively low.

The above tendencies are proved by leaders’ answers to a distracting question about whom of Belarus’s politicians they would like to have a dinner with (see Table 10). As we could see, the highest “demand” is for S. Domash and P. Kozlovsky. M. Chigir is lagging somewhere behind. The picture is the same in non-state sector. The majority of leaders of state structures would like to have a dinner with V. Yermoshin.

Table  10. Distribution of answers to the question: “Whom of today’s Belarusian politicians would you like to have a dinner with?”, % (more than one answer is possible)

* Other politicians received less than 7% each

As Table 11 shows, opinion leaders leave A. Lukashenko few chances for re-election. In any pair of a hypothetical second round of the presidential election he is losing to any of competitors considered. Especially to V. Goncharik and M. Chigir.

Table 11. Dynamics of distribution of answers to the question: “If you were to elect Belarus’s president among the following two politicians, for whom would you vote?”, %

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

A. Lukashenko – V. Goncharik
For A. Lukashenko

5.8

14.8

For V. Goncharik

78.3

63.0

88.1

Against both

5.8

3.7

7.1

DA/NA

10.1

18.5

4.8

A. Lukashenko – M. Chigir
For A. Lukashenko

5.8

14.8

For M. Chigir

78.3

59.3

90.4

Against both

8.7

14.8

4.8

DA/NA/TD>

7.2

11.1

4.8

A. Lukashenko – S. Domash
For A. Lukashenko

5.8

14.8

For S. Domash

69.6

48.1

83.3

Against both

13.0

18.6

9.5

DA/NA

11.6

18.5

7.2

A. Lukashenko – P. Kozlovsky
For A. Lukashenko

5.8

14.8

For P. Kozlovsky

69.6

48.1

83.3

Against both

10.1

11.1

9.5

DA/NA

14.5

26.0

7.2

Most of all state sector leaders support V. Goncharik, their colleagues from non-state structures – M. Chigir. However, difference in support of each one from this “four” both in state and non-state sectors is insignificant, and is not enough to speak about advantages of a concrete contender. That’s why we could suppose that their unification on a single election platform shall bring in additional votes. Meanwhile, leaders’ answers confirm it (see Table 12). Almost 80% of leaders believe that democratic forces unification would raise chances of their candidate.

Table  12. Distribution of answers to the question: “There is an opinion that chances of democratic forces’ candidate to win the presidential election would rise if he is nominated by wide coalition uniting all advocates of sweeping changes to the current course? What do you think about it?”

Table 13 proves that the majority of leaders is gradually more inclined to think that the upcoming election would not be free and fair. Non-state sector leaders have more doubts in this respect, their determination is based on experience of previous election campaigns. There are more doubts both in state and non-state structures. In fact, leaders voiced distrust to the whole election system of Belarus. Non surprisingly: the March election to the Lower House was a great illustration to those who doubt impartiality of L. Yermoshina and her colleagues.

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

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

01’01

04’00

01’01

04’00

01’01

04’00

Yes

12.2

7.2

30.0

18.5

No

77.0

85.6

60.0

74.1

88.6

92.9

Although many doubt fairness of the upcoming election, the majority of leaders intend to take part in it (see Table 14). The majority of electorate shares this vision.

Table  14. Dynamics of distribution of answers to the question: “Are you going to participate in the upcoming presidential election?”, %

Variant of answer

All respondents

Public sector employees

Private sector employees

01’01

04’00

01’01

04’00

01’01

04’00

Yes

82.4

66.7

80.0

74.1

84.1

61.9

No

13.0

14.8

11.9

Will take decision depending on political situation

16.2

20.3

20.0

11.1

13.6

26.2

At the same time the number of those who are going to participate has fallen over the last three months. This phenomenon needs an additional research, but it seems like a reaction to fresh information about an unprecedented falsification at the additional election to the Lower Chamber.

The analysis conducted allows to conclude that – first, as the president A. Lukashenko does not suit the majority of public opinion leaders. They do not share conceptual principles of his course, especially in the sphere of economy, and they do not want him reelected.

Second, at the presidential election leaders are mostly ready to support S. Domash, V. Goncharik and M. Chigir. Considering the level of support, P. Kozlovsky and A. Yaroshuk are close to the favorites. Leaders show little support to A. Lukashenko, and a downward trend is seen. There are no new figures in the ratings, which means the leaders’ support list has stabilized. Third, the majority of leaders doubts the upcoming election could be free and fair. Nevertheless, today many of them are ready to take part in it. Thus, the strategy aimed at ensuring maximum turnout, first of all young voters, is prospective and correct.