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FOR AN IDEOLOGICAL CHOICE INFORMATION IS NOT NEEDED

As the last election showed, modern political technologies that are widely adopted in Russia have not come to Belarus yet. Naturally, as we see from Table 1, the candidates mostly used traditional methods of persuasion. And here it turned out that almost a quarter of all the voters faced no campaigning at all! Leaflets are traditionally at the top of the information sources list (57.8%). Only 6.2% of the respondents named personal visiting of candidates as an information source. Though it is widely known that personal contacts are the most efficient method to promote this or that point of view.
Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “What kind of election propaganda did the candidates in your constituency use?”

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question: “How did you receive information about candidates and their programs”, %

It is noteworthy that Belarusian voters were quite careless about their civil duty on October 15. Only 26.4% of the respondents said they took the decision to participate in the election well in advance, whereas 14.5% decided to go and cast their votes on the election day. We shall admit that the prognosis about considerable possibilities of official propaganda came true. During the last week before the election, which the peak of the state-run mass media propaganda, 22.5% of the respondents made up their mind to take part in the election (see Table 3).

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “If you voted during the elections, when did you first decide that you should?”, %

The problem of candidate choice was postponed until the last moment. Some 20% of the respondents made the decision at the polling station (compare: the world “standard” totals 10 to 15%). Perhaps here it would be pointless to debate how deliberate and motivated that choice was. About 29.5% of the respondents (among Lukashenko’s supporters is figure is as high as 41.3%) chose the candidate they would vote for during the last five to six days (see Table 4). During the presidential election the situation will not necessarily be the same, but any democratic candidate should keep it in mind.

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question: “If you voted during the elections, when did you decide whom to support?”, %

Table 5 provides additional material to think how deliberate the voters’ choice was. Almost two thirds of the pollees did not have enough information about the candidates and their election programs. However, some 55.7% of those who participated in the election had no such information (see Table 6). So, how the voters made their choice under the conditions of such information deficit? At first glance, everything proves that the majority of them did it “at random.” In fact, these people voted relying on their own ideological persuasions. Staunch supporters of Lukashenko – for candidates, who support the present authorities, while his opponents – against all and in favor of all candidates, who promised to strive for changing the current political course (see Table 7).

Table 5. Distribution of answers to the question: “Did you have sufficient information about candidates in your constituency and their election programs?”, %

Table 6. Voting decisions depending on availability of information about candidates and their programs*, %

* The table should be read horizontally

Table 7. Distribution of answers to the question to those who voted on October 15: “For which candidate did you vote during the elections?”, %

Table 8. Voting choices depending on availability of information about candidate and their programs*, %

* The table should be read horizontally

The degree of information awareness, as it turned out, has almost no influence over the choice. The priority is given to the candidate’s ideological views, which, probably, replaces the total absence of information about him (see Table 8). More than half of those who voted in favor of a candidate – opponent of the regime did not have enough information about him or his program! The situation is the same among those who chose candidates that supported the present authorities. That means that the factor of political identification is rather influential – are you against or for Lukashenko, and then many do not bother themselves with studying programs and promises of this or that candidate. Obviously, if at the presidential election the struggle would develop in line with such a polar, white-and-black scheme, a democratic candidate has rather poor chances. In this respect, during the coming presidential run-up it would be expedient for a democratic abandon the top priority dilemma “in favor of Lukashenko – against Lukashenko,” not to overstress his/her opposition-mindedness, but to concentrate the voters’ attention at positive sides of his/her election program and its possible benefits to each Belarusian.