Over the fourth quarter of 2015 electoral rating of A. Lukashenko dropped by 12.4 points down to the lowest value of the last two years (Table 1). It’s possible that this significant decrease is related to the “high foundation” of September. One month prior to the election the future five-time winner was actively playing the card of external threats, scaring the “red man” (we took this definition of a typical representative of Belarusian majority from S. Alexievich’s Nobel lecture) with the images of “cruel battles” for the redistribution of world resources.

Table 1. Dynamics of electoral rating of President A. Lukashenko*, %

Date 12’13 03’14 06’14 09’14 12’14 03’15 06’15 09’15 12’15
Rating 34.8 39.8 39.8 45.2 40.0 34.2 38.6 45.7 33.3

* Electoral rating is the percentage of votes, which a politician received in answers to an open question “If presidential elections were held tomorrow, for whom would you vote?”

This pre-electoral tactics worked quite well. Additional portion of adrenalin helped the “red men” to realize the need to unite around the real guarantor of stability. As a result, A. Lukashenko’s electoral rating gained 7.1 points in September (June – 38.6%, September – 45.7%). However, October 11 passed, the topic of “cruel battle” was eliminated from the agenda. A. Lukashenko transformed into a “talking head”, discussing the need to raise the retirement age. There is a world of difference between voting for a fearless fighter against the world evil and for such a talking head.

Decrease of A. Lukashenko’s electoral rating in December was not accompanied by a symmetric decrease of his trust rating (Table 2). As a result, the ratio of two ratings ended up being normal.

Table 2. Dynamics of trust rating of President A. Lukashenko*, %

Variant of answer 12’13 03’14 06’14 09’14 12’14 03’15 06’15 09’15 12’15
Trust 37.7 45.9 49.6 53.5 49.9 48.8 49.0 47.0 45.4
Don’t trust 47.5 44.1 39.0 33.3 35.6 39.7 39.1 37.1 41.9
DA 14.8 10.0 11.4 13.2 14.5 11.5 11.9 15.9 12.7

* Trust rating is the percentage of support in the answers to the question “Do you trust the President?”

An explanation is required here. In absence of mobilization excitation trust rating usually exceeds electoral rating. This excess can reach 10 and more points. In particular, in June 2015 it amounted to 10.4 points, but in September values of the two ratings became almost equal. That is why December difference of 12.3 points should be considered as a symptom of decline of mobilization excitation.

Table 3 demonstrates the dynamics of trust ratings of state and public institutions. First column reflects results of the survey conducted three months prior to the annexation of Crimea. Annexation resulted in a growth of ratings of almost all state and “nearly state” institutions. Orthodox Church can be listed under the latter. State mass media were the leaders of popularity increase (+15.5 points), and there is nothing surprising about it when you think of the role of TV in pumping political euphoria. As for non-state institutions, if “Crimeaisours” and the war in the East of Ukraine, which followed it, had influenced them, then the influence was negative.

Table 3. Dynamics of trust rating of state and public institutions*, %

Variant of answer 12’13 12’14 12’15
Orthodox Church 63.0 67.2 65.2
Army 44.1 52.1 47.2
President 37.7 49.9 45.4
Bar association 39.4 51.9 42.1
Militia 34.9 41.4 41.3
Non-state mass media 41.0 41.7 40.6
KGB 33.9 42.0 40.3
State mass media 31.6 47.1 39.6
State research institutes 31.5 46.6 38.6
Public Prosecutor’s Office 34.5 42.3 38.5
Courts 34.9 44.4 37.2
Central Election Commission 32.0 40.4 36.1
Business associations 39.7 35.6 35.8
Government 29.4 41.4 35.6
Catholic Church 36.6 35.3 35.4
International organizations (UN, EU, OSCE, European Parliament, Council of Europe and others) 36.9 36.9 27.1
Independent research institutes 36.0 44.9 35.1
Trade-unions, members of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus 30.0 36.2 33.1
Free and independent trade-unions 31.9 33.8 32.4
Local Councils of Deputies 28.9 37.1 31.5
National Assembly 31.5 37.8 30.3
Local Executive Committees 28.6 36.4 30.3
Human rights groups (Belarusian Helsinki Committee and others) 28.7 37.4 27.3
Political parties supporting the present power 19.9 27.5 21.4
Opposition political parties 15.8 16.0 12.6
Protestant Church 10.9 9.9 9.5

* The table is sorted by the last column

Over the past year trust ratings of state institutions decreased insignificantly, but the “Crimeaisours” effect hadn’t disappeared completely. It should be noted that the biggest decrease was observed for former leaders of growth. In particular, trust rating of state mass media lost 7.5 points and its rating is lower than the rating of non-state mass media, which hasn’t changed over the last three years.

The last rows in the rating list are traditionally occupied by oppositional political parties and protestant church. “Crimeaisours” didn’t influence oppositional parties’ rating, but it decreased after presidential election. There is nothing surprising about it. Some of A. Lukashenko’s opponents still perceive elections as… elections, and their results – as a defeat of opposition.

First places of the rating list are invariably occupied by institutions which don’t regulate everyday life – Orthodox Church and army. In particular, Belarusian army is not reserved for efficient war actions. Its function is symbolic: it provides integrity of social system.

President has a similar function. However, the fact that the head of state actively functions in informational space leads to a gradual devaluation of symbolic constituent of his legitimacy. Over 8 years (Table 4) the share of respondents, who perceive the President as a reformer, dropped from 38.9% down to 25.5%; and the share of those, who perceive him as a politician who “transforms reality qualitatively and revolutionarily”, dropped from 11% down to 5%. This is what the classic of political science M. Weber called “routinization of charisma”. This is confirmed by the increase in popularity of answers “He aims at maintaining current governance system” (from 13% up to 27.8%) and “He advances slogans without doing anything” (from 8.3% up to 14.8%).

Table 4. Dynamics of answering the question: “Which image of the present President do you have?”, %

Variant of answer 01’07 09’09 06’11 12’12 12’14 12’15
He slowly, but steadily pursues the aim by way of reforms 38.9 33.1 23.1 27.9 27.8 25.5
He simply aims at maintaining his power 22.8 30.8 35.8 29.1 26.6 22.9
He aims at maintaining current governance system 13.0 13.9 18.6 17.3 24.8 27.8
He advances slogans without doing anything 8.3 12.7 12.7 15.1 11.9 14.8
He transforms reality qualitatively and revolutionarily 11.0 7.8 9.2 10.2 8.9 5.0
  1. Lukashenko made a number of statements during the ceremony of inauguration on the 6thof November. None of these statements was admitted by more than 50% of Belarusians (Table 5). It looks like the head of state, watching out of the window of his bullet-proof Mercedes, observes a life which is different from the life which Belarusians see out of the windows of their second-hand cars. The more mundane a statement was, the lower the level of agreement was. And to think that ability to be earth-bound was the main distinctive feature of the “people’s president”!

Table 5. Distribution of answers to the question: “What do you think about the following statements of the President A. Lukashenko, made on the 6th of November during the inauguration ceremony?”, %

Variant of answer Agree Disagree DA/NA
A stable, viable state was created in Belarus 48.1 42.4 9.5
Belarusian people need to be led, need a guideline 45.2 44.6 10.2
This isn’t my personal success, this is our national victory, victory of Belarusian people 42.2 35.5 22.3
Each Belarusian is protected by law 37.9 46.9 15.2
People in Belarus have all avenues: favorable conditions for working, studying, discovering talents, educating real experts in their field 32.0 51.5 16.5
Belarusian public health service is the best in the world 20.2 66.2 13.6

Table 6 results permit us to complete the set of standard ratings (trust and electoral) with the rating of “selfless devotion”. Looking at the impressive figures, reflecting the personal readiness to protect A. Lukashenko, one should not forget that readiness to take real actions is often significantly different from the declarative readiness, especially when this readiness is declared more often by women than men (18% vs. 16%) and by retired people than youth (30% vs. 11.8%).

Table 6. Dynamics of answering the question: “Are you ready to personally protect Alexander Lukashenko from some threat?”, %

Variant of answer 12’14 12’15 Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Trust Don’t trust
Yes 18.7 17.1 33.0 2.9
No 62.2 63.5 36.7 90.0
DA/NA 19.1 19.4 30.3 7.1

Analyzing dynamics of ratings of A. Lukashenko and state institutions, one should remember that there are two states of society, which almost never come into contact. First state is the state of a normal person, living everyday life and able to criticize the power. Second state is the “heroic mode”. “Crimeaisours” helped A. Lukashenko to activate the second mode, which was very apropos amid the crisis of legitimacy. But judging by the results of December survey, resource of “heroic mode” is almost exhausted.