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BELARUSIANS STILL PREFER A COMPROMISE

This year the authorities announced the beginning of “a broad social dialogue”, which replaced the stopped negotiations with the opposition. It is rumored, that the dialogue is Minsk’s attempt to maintain a nice fa?ade while it enters into a bargain with the West. The essence of the bargain is that the authorities agree to change the conditions of parliamentary elections somewhat and the West recognizes their results. The whole process is under way without the formal participation of the third interested party – A. Lukashenko’s opponents. This position of the authorities is not supported by voters – around 33% of respondents (Table 1) think that the terms and conditions of parliamentary elections need to be figured out during the negotiations of the authorities and the opposition, and their agreements must be observed by both sides. This figure is even higher among “party voters” (those, who are ready to support political parties during the elections) – it equals 45.1%.
Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question “How should the terms and conditions for parliamentary elections be set?”, %

The fact that so many people think that the parties to the negotiations must have equal rights and their agreements must obtain a legal status is somewhat strange for a society, which is generally characterized by low legal culture. People are almost accustomed to the fact that the actions of the regime are above the law, but if the agreements obtain a legal status, this means that their violators are going to be punished somehow.
The Belarusians did not assume this balanced position because they spontaneously recognized the values of a jural state or the importance of legislature. Most likely, this is a stereotype in public thinking, which worked here – a compromise is always better than violence and dictatorship, whoever tries to dictate and whatever the pretexts.
The respondents’ reaction to the situation around the negotiations of the authorities and opposition is another indicator of this trend (Table 2).

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question “To which of the opinions regarding the negotiations between the authorities and the opposition do you agree?”, %

The number of supporters of the negotiations as the only way, by which various social groups can have their interests considered, has exceeded 50%. Their numbers grow, while the number of proponents of radical views and the hesitant respondents decreases. The majority of Belarusians currently prefer mild techniques to influence the regime (Table 3).

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question “What do you think about taking part in public actions to express your opinion”, %

A total of 25.5% of respondents said they were ready for radical action. On the one hand, this is way too little for a social outburst. On the other hand, high-ranking officials claim that Belarus is a politically and socially stable country. However, these data show that there is a high level of social tensions in Belarus, which cannot be ignored. If the authorities do not make use of the good old methods of coordination of different interests, primarily the free and fair elections, which are widely popular among people, the dissatisfied will have one way to go – radical action.