By Belarusian tradition, A. Lukashenko’s rating decrease did not lead to an increase of oppositional parties’ rating (Table 1). The list of reasons for such an unusual (according to the Western standards) phenomenon is caused by a set of objective and subjective factors. However, their summary input is overridden by the absence of politics as such in the country. And it isn’t a question of personal characteristics of the head of state (the only politician in Belarus). Authoritarian power led by one person, standing above the law, cannot be reproduced in a competitive environment. And when there is no competition, there can be no politics.

Table 1. Dynamics of trust rating of oppositional parties, %

Date 12’12 12’13 12’14 03’15 06’15 09’15 12’15 03’16
Rating 20.0 15.8 16.0 18.8 13.4 13.1 12.6 11.3

In its turn, this type of power is based on atomized population, whose ability to work out common interests and protect them by way of collective actions is minimal. This doesn’t exclude a possibility of a “meaningless and merciless” rebellion. Traditionally, such rebellions are considered as revolutions. In the XX century such revolutions led twice to collapse of empire, in its monarchic and communistic variants. But in both scenarios the principle of one person’s power being out of society’s control was the same. Under the conditions of absent society, it would be naïve to expect something else.

  1. Lukashenko’s electoral rating lost 6 points in March comparatively to December: it decreased from 33.3% down to 27.3%. Like three months ago, other leaders of the top three are presidential campaign runners T. Korotkevich (her rating dropped from 9.9% down to 6.9%) and S. Gaydukevich (his rating is close to the statistical error – 3.3% vs. 3.7% in December). No one else managed to overcome the limits of statistical error either in December or in March.

Economic crisis didn’t affect oppositional level of Belarusians (let us emphasize that we are talking about declarative opposition here). Over the last 13 years it oscillates between 15% and 21%. Only at the peak of crisis in 2011 the share of oppositional-minded people significantly increased (Table 2).

Table 2. Dynamics of answering the question: “Do you consider yourself in opposition to the current power?”, %

Variant of answer 04’06 10’10 06’11 12’12 12’13 06’14 09’15 03’16
Yes 18.5 14.9 25.8 21.3 18.9 17.8 20.7 18.0
No 73.3 72.4 60.3 65.8 73.5 70.6 68.8 70.1
DA/NA 8.2 12.7 13.9 12.9 7.6 11.6 10.5 11.9

Apparently, the reason for this lies in the rate of growth of negative effects. It’s easier for people to adapt to a gradual decrease of life standards, and that’s what we observe today.

Belarusian stability is not based on people’s support of official course, but on Belarusians’ inability to act together, as we’ve noted it earlier. Examples are plentiful: decision to increase retirement age did not provoke any public protests.

Sociologist L. Byzov notes: “Protests need a transmitter. When Yeltsin appeared, Gorbachev’s rating dropped, because people could see an alternative. As soon as there is alternative, there is competition in politics. But people still believe that it’s better to deal with something habitual, even if it’s not always good. Nobody is going to jump off the deep end and choose something that nobody has ever heard about”.

Before alternative starts to shape, some space needs to be freed up for it. Then, alongside the weak power, will appear its “shadow double”, created by mass consciousness. This double will be perceived as a savior. But, judging by March rating of A. Lukashenko, it’s still early for the demand for an alternative politician to emerge. This is confirmed by the standard level of declarative readiness to protest (Table 3).

Table 3. Dynamics of answering the question: “If there are protests against the worsening of financial standing in your city (region), are you ready to take part in them?”, %

Variant of answer 09’07 12’08 09’11 03’14 03’15 09’15 03’16
Yes 17.4 18.6 14.7 22.9 15.4 17.3 18.2
No 72.7 71.8 73.9 68.3 72.6 71.5 73.0
DA/NA 9.9 9.6 11.4 8.8 12.0 11.2 8.8

We cannot but note that attempts to shape an alternative in the person of a “single candidate” were repeatedly undertaken by opposition. None of them had any results. But these attempts still continue. The last example is the attempt to organize the Congress of Democratic Forces “to consolidate democratic forces and work out further actions”. Here are the figures describing respondents’ attitude to this initiative (results of March survey): 21.8% of them are ready to support it; 54.2% are against it; 18.9% are indifferent about it; 5.1% found it difficult to answer the question.

Demand for changes in modern Belarus is an indicator of satisfaction with the current state of things (Table 4). In 2006 it was minimal, in 2011, during the crisis, it was maximal. Euphoria, caused by “Crimeaisours”, has distorted perception of reality by mass consciousness, but, as we’ve already mentioned it several times, by March 2016 the “TV” had finally won over the “fridge”, and this lead to a significant growth of demand for changes.

Table 4. Dynamics of answering the question: “What’s more important for you today: maintaining of the current situation in the country or changing it?”, %

Variant of answer 02’06 12’10 12’11 06’14 09’15 03’16
Maintaining of the situation is more important 53.4 49.7 18.0 38.3 33.3 24.7
Changing of the situation is more important 37.8 41.2 70.1 52.1 52.7 67.3
DA/NA 8.8 9.1 11.9 9.6 14.0 8.0

42.4% of A. Lukashenko’s supporters declared the desire for changes. In September 2015 this share amounted only to 28.8%. This is a significant change. It is in the same course as more general changes registered during the last survey. According figures for the head of state’s opponents are 89.7% and 85.9%.

In an atomized society an all-pervading feeling of “lost control over the present” emerges (Z. Bauman), and this leads to paralysis of political will. People don’t believe that they can achieve desired changes by acting collectively. During crises the feeling of “lost control over the present” is magnified, and this is registered in the answers to the question “Do you believe that public opinion influences political and socio-economic decisions in our country?” (Table 5).

Table 5. Dynamics of answering the question: “Do you believe that public opinion influences political and socio-economic decisions in our country?”, %

Variant of answer 03’04 09’11 09’13 09’15 03’16
Yes, it does 35.8 26.8 41.5 38.0 22.6
No, it doesn’t 53.2 64.2 47.5 50.5 69.7
DA/NA 11.0 98.0 11.0 11.5 7.7

March anti-record is natural. Public discussion on the topic of retirement age increase didn’t stop it.

Multiple public statements of A. Lukashenko about readiness of “the state for the people” to take into account people’s opinion when making decisions are nothing more than declarations. Belarusian model has no mechanisms for taking into account someone’s interests, except for a thin layer of higher bureaucracy. Neither elections of all levels, nor referendums, nor public discussions can deny imitational nature of “clear” Belarusian democracy, which differs from “unclear” democracies by this very imitational character.