Two last economic crises (in 2009 and 2011) were rather transient, and this gave people hope that they can wait through the crisis of 2015 too, despite the decrease of real incomes by 5.6%. However, “successes” of Belarusian model in the first quarter of the current year decisively cancelled these hopes.

According to A. Lukashenko, there is no crisis in Belarus, and things that some “panic-mongers in the government” perceive for crisis are only modifications of conditions for some trends. “Crisis is in our heads!” summed up the head of state the meeting on measures to increase efficiency of social-economic complex on the 16th of February.

March survey gave us the opportunity to count the share of adult Belarusians who have “crisis in their heads”. This share is record high; formally it’s even higher than at the peak of 2011 crisis (Table 1). This growth amounted to 20.9 points comparatively to December. If the perception of crisis will continue to develop at this rate, then it can happen that by autumn there will be only one head devoid of crisis in Belarus.

Table 1. Dynamics of answering the question: “Do you think that Belarusian economy is in crisis?”, %

Variant of answer 09’11 12’13 03’14 03’15 06’15 09’15 12’15 03’16
Yes 87.6 68.6 54.6 67.5 72.0 75.1 66.9 87.8
No 8.0 22.2 34.5 20.0 16.9 16.2 17.9 4.4
DA/NA 4.4 9.2 10.9 12.5 11.1 8.7 15.2 7.8

Answering the natural in this situation question “Who is to blame?”, respondents divided their answers almost equally between the President and the government (Table 2), while in 2015 (one month prior to the presidential election) “responsibility rating” of the government exceeded the President’s by 6.4 points.

Table 2. Dynamics of answering the question: “Who is responsible for the present crisis in Belarus”, % (more than one answer is possible)

Variant of answer 09’11 12’12 12’13 09’15 03’16
The President 61.2 41.0 45.0 34.1 47.0
The government 41.3 39.1 42.0 40.5 48.3
The USA 16.3 14.5 15.5 15.9 16.7
Europe 12.0 10.9 11.8 21.5 17.5
Parliament 11.9 17.2 19.6 14.0 22.7
People 10.0 8.7 16.3 11.8 12.9
Russia 7.3 7.5 6.6 10.7 10.1
Opposition 5.0 11.5 13.1 6.6 8.6
DA 13.4 11.5 8.6 10.9 11.4

* The table is sorted by the first column

“Responsibility rating” of the Parliament has significantly increased as well (+8.7 points), while responsibility of other potential offenders hasn’t really changed.

Although “responsibility ratings” of the President and the government are almost equal, it is natural that input of supporters and opponents of the head of state was different: 78.9% of opponents and only 12.9 of supporters agreed that the President is to blame for the crisis. Accordingly, this distribution for the government amounted to 64% and 32%, and for the U.S. – to 6.7% and 28%.

Official point of view on the external reasons of the crisis is shared almost by every third Belarusian, on the internal reasons – every second one (Table 3). This doesn’t contradict the answers to the previous question. Selling external threats to Belarusians is not as effective as selling them to Russians.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “If you agree that Belarusian economy is in crisis, then what are its main reasons?” depending on attitude to A. Lukashenko, %

Variant of answer All respondents Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Trust Don’t trust
The reasons are external 30.7 47.7 14.5
The reasons are internal 51.9 29.3 75.4
DA/NA 17.4 23.0 10.1

Majority of Belarusians agreed that hardships that Belarus comes across today will last for a long time, but this majority is not absolute (Table 4). Only one quarter of respondents believes that this is the collapse of Belarusian model. It is understandable, that these answers are politically-charged to an extreme. In the third variant of answer the difference between A. Lukashenko’s supporters and opponents is almost 10-fold. You should also note the high share of the head of state’s supporters who didn’t give any answer.

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question: “How do you evaluate economic problems faced by Belarus today?” depending on attitude to A. Lukashenko, %

Variant of answer All respondents Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Trust Don’t trust
These problems are temporary, we had survived worse than this in the past 28.5 52.5 8.7
These problems will last for a long time, it’s time to tighten the belts 40.5 32.0 45.7
This is the collapse of Belarusian model 24.0 4.8 43.0
DA/NA 7.0 10.8 2.6

Let us remind you that in March 87.8% of respondents agreed that there is crisis in Belarus. But one thing is to admit the crisis, and another thing is to accept the collapse of Belarusian model. The latter means losing any hope on situation improvement. Majority of Belarusians are not ready to accept this prospect.

As for the help in overcoming the crisis, Belarusians mainly lay their hopes on Russia instead of their own powers (Table 5). This distribution of hopes is not surprising when you bear in mind that public opinion holds state institutions (the government, the President, the Parliament) for the main responsible parties of the crisis.

Table 5. Distribution of answers to the question: “According to you, who is going to help Belarus overcome the crisis?” depending on attitude to A. Lukashenko, % (more than one answer is possible)

Variant of answers All respondents Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Trust Don’t trust
No one, we should rely only on ourselves 36.5 22.3 50.7
Russia 26.1 29.5 23.9
Belarusian authority 17.6 31.8 6.3
The Western countries 11.1 9.1 12.5
Belarusian opposition 3.4 2.5 3.8
Other countries 0.9 1.0 0.8
DA 8.8 7.8 6.4

Every second opponent of A. Lukashenko relies on their own resources; among his supporters the share of self-reliant people didn’t even reach 25%. Taking into account socio-demographic structure of these groups, there is nothing surprising in this ratio.

You should also notice the insignificant differences between the answers of politically-charged groups of Belarusian society regarding their hopes on Russia and on the Western countries. As for Belarusian opposition, their anti-crisis potential is close to statistical error even among the head of state’s opponents.

The power cannot tell temporary issues from a system crisis and cannot work out measures to overcome it. That is why, with a high level of probability, one can affirm, that negative manifestations in Belarusian economy will only increase. Simultaneously, public opinion’s evaluations of the power’s responsibility will get more and more radical too.