The analysis of respondents’ answers shows that the general public traditionally sees social and economic problems as the most urgent. Table 1 shows that the most serious problems are always price growth, impoverishment of people and unemployment. However, their aggregate rating has had a tendency to decrease slowly over the last two years.
Table 1. The most acute problems, which the country and its people face, %

At the same time, more people are concerned about lack of law and order. There is a growth of every indicator in this class of problems, primarily issues concerning human rights. This indicates the fact that the government is unable to resolve these problems or stabilize the situation. Therefore, the public accumulates a negative feeling towards the authorities.
Noticeably, the aftermath of the Chernobyl catastrophe is now given less attention, when compared to other problems. People get used to “the heritage” of Chernobyl and have little concern that the government does not do enough to resolve this problem. We think that this unjustified indifference will encourage the authorities to further cover up the distant echoes of the catastrophe, allow to use more of the polluted land for agricultural production, and even make people return to contaminated areas.
Table 2 shows that Belarusian citizens are pessimistic enough about the results of the economic policy pursued by the authorities. In comparison with the October survey, respondents think that the economic situation in Belarus, however, has improved a little bit, which can be explained by the fact that people were waiting for a rise in wages in November in line the authorities’ decision concerning the centralized magnification of the minimum wages and basic wage rates by 38% to 40%, since October 1, 2000.

Table 2. Change of the economic situation over the last year, %

At the same time, this measure, in many respects, has not met people’s hopes because more than 75% of the respondents do not think that the financial condition is improving. Only 9.0% of the respondents are sure it has become better. Probably, they have also answered that the economic situation in Belarus has improved as well. It is necessary to remember that, no less than 13 to 14% of the adult population is budget-paid citizens in Belarus, and that the government passed the bill for their sake.
Such conclusion is proved by the information distributed by the Statistics Ministry and an analysis, which says that nominal average wages for October were only 15.7% higher than that for September. Excluding the inflation rate (5.2% in September), it would be less than 10% from the widely publicized “rise in wages”.
However, respondents think that the real growth of incomes was even less in October. If in September, an average income was 38,200 rubles, then in October, it totaled 38,900 rubles. Such a gain (1.8%) is three times lower than the inflation rate! Therefore, the real incomes of the population did not grow, and even were reduced. That is why a new salary rise starting from December 1, though it is described by the state-run mass media as “Lukashenko’s special care” for the people, is a forced measure, which is especially needed before the presidential election campaign. Moreover, Belarus does not have its own means to carry it out, and the first tranche of the credit promised by Russia for the financial support of “the Slavic friend”, is being highly expected.
The survey’s data show that the majority of the population understands adequately enough that Belarus cannot settle its basic economic problems. It becomes especially evident if compared to that of the majority of neighboring countries. Table 3 shows that contrary to “the market socialism”, almost three-quarters of the respondents, for some reasons, prefer a trivial market economy. The amount of adherents to the “administrative economy” is becoming less, and even retirees are starting to think in other directions.

Table 3. Type of economy, preferred by respondents, %

* 1994-1996 questionnaires did not have subsections under “market economy”

Among supporters of the market economy, there is a noticeable out-of-balance in favor of those, who prefer a liberal variant, which can be explained by the respondents’ reaction to the negative consequences of the state’s interference with the economy. For example, for the seventh year, A. Lukashenko has been trying hard to bring down the inflation by means of directives and special edicts. The government has been reshuffled many times, the state TV has constantly been broadcasting meetings, where Lukashenko does blame bureaucrats of their incompetence and unwillingness to carry out his instructions concerning the national welfare rise, but nothing has changed. The inflation is always impudently exceeding the frameworks established for it, and devouring all the nominal increases in salaries and pensions. Thus, it is reducing the quantity of socialists among the electorate.
Other answers also show that respondents prefer a market economy. According to Table 4, the majority of respondents said that private property is the most efficient form of ownership: for three years on end their share has been bigger than the number of those who have not realized it or do not wish to.

Table 4. The efficiency of forms of ownership, %

Table 5 conveys the same message. It shows a similar growth of the number of respondents, who prefer to work for private companies. Over the last 3+ years, their share grew by almost 66%, although the government policy creates obstacles for market relations and is aimed against the private sector. According to these figures, in the near future there will be more people, who prefer to work for private companies, than those who prefer the state sector. This is how the results of the poll allow us to state the same thing again: people’s economic views are gradually changing in the direction of support for market relations. This is why all authorities’ efforts to destroy the free market give a contrary effect: the worse the oppression of the private initiative is and the harsher the attempts to administer the economy, the fewer people support the government.

Table 5. Which company would you like to work for? (%)

The general public has a clear vision of the economic preferences of A. Lukashenko. Only 16.1% of respondents said that he supported a market economy, while 36.9% said that he was a proponent of the “planned” economy. Only 4.8% of respondents said that A. Lukashenko favored capitalism, while 34.4% said that he prefers socialism. It is understood, that one day the preference of a market economy, shared by the general public, will be strong enough to leave no chance for “market socialism” and its proponents.

Table 6. Satisfaction in the way, A. Lukashenko has been ruling Belarus for six years, %

* Joint survey with the Center for social and ecological studies

The answers to the question whether respondents were satisfied with the way that A. Lukashenko has ruled the country for six years also indicate this: 36.3% of respondents said that they were “Somewhat dissatisfied”, and only 20.3% of respondents said they were “Somewhat satisfied” (Table 6). It is seen that the share of the discontent is increasing, while the share of the satisfied is decreasing rapidly! Therefore, small wonder that today the number of those, who would like A. Lukashenko to serve another term as president of Belarus (36.1%), is 15% lower than the number of those who wouldn’t (41.5%).