The last pre-“Crimeaisours” value of electoral rating of A. Lukashenko amounted to 34.8% (Table 1). One quarter earlier the rating was higher by 7.8 points, and amid the decrease of real incomes that was an almost sure sign of a negative trend. Possibly, the last trend in the long-drown political biography of the constant head of Belarusian state.

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 03’16
Rating 34.8 39.8 39.8 45.2 40.0 34.2 38.6 45.7 33.3 27.3

* 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?”

However, what seemed indisputable in December 2013 lost it topicality in March 2014. Negative trend didn’t even form fully and then made a 180° turn, so that the rating reached its local high a month before the beginning of presidential campaign. After the end of the campaign started the natural demobilization recession. Fear is among well-marketable goods, and it permits to forget about the decrease of real incomes for some time. But it’s also a perishable article. You cannot trade it for a long time, and the factor of worsening financial well-being is again in the forefront. That is why current value of A. Lukashenko’s rating (27.3%) is the lowest since December 2011, and this should be regarded as another proof of Anomalies 2014 and 2015 coming to an end.

As we’ve noted it multiple times, Belarusian model was at its peak in 2006. High oil prices restrained its degradation for 8 years. But everything comes to its end. For the third year running external factors are against Belarusian model, and it has no internal resources for growth. Consequently, “the fall of the power”, i.e. the decrease of authoritarian leader’s rating down to the values close to zero is a question of time. We could have observed this “fall” by the examples of M. Gorbachev and B. Yeltsin.

The growing objective need for unpopular decisions will contribute to the decrease of A. Lukashenko’s electoral rating. In this regard let us cite our December article: “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”.

In March the “talking head” passed from speeches to actions. Their consequences will last for a long time. Amid the decrease of population’s real incomes, we can witness formation of the so-called “synergetic effect”.

The decrease of electoral rating of A. Lukashenko in December 2015 by 12.4 points wasn’t accompanied by a symmetric decrease of his trust rating (Table 2). In March trust rating decreased by 3.7 points, at the same time distrust rating reached a record high since December 2013 – 47.4%. As a result, for the first time since “Crimeaisours” the difference between ratings of trust and distrust is negative.

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 03’16
Trust 37.7 45.9 49.6 53.5 49.9 48.8 49.0 47.0 45.4 41.7
Don’t trust 47.5 44.1 39.0 33.3 35.6 39.7 39.1 37.1 41.9 47.4
DA 14.8 10.0 11.4 13.2 14.5 11.5 11.9 15.9 12.7 10.9

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

  1. Lukashenko’s decreasing trust rating dragged down trust ratings of state institutions as well. In particular, trust rating of the government dropped from 35.6% in December down to 28.4% (–7.2 points); state mass media – from 39.6% down to 30.4% (-9.2 points); the CEC – from 36.1% own to 29.6% (–6.5 points). At the same time there is no demand for alternative institutions amid the deepening economic crisis: trust rating of non-state mass media dropped from 40.6% down to 25.2% (–15.4 points), independent research centers – from 35.1% down to 25.7% (–9.4 points), oppositional parties – from 12.6% down to 11.3% (–1.3 points).

The decrease of trust to state institutions is also reflected in the dynamics of answering the question: “According to you, is a significant improvement of Belarusian people’s lives possible under the current rule and its policy?” During the “fat” year 2006 the difference between positive and negative evaluations amounted to 27.1 points; in March 2015 the difference amounted to 11 points; in March 2016 there is almost no difference between these variants of answers (Table 3).

Table 3. Dynamics of answering the question: “According to you, is a significant improvement of Belarusian people’s lives possible under the current rule and its policy?”, %

Variant of answer 06’01 02’06 03’14 03’15 03’16
Possible 44.2 57.5 47.1 49.1 43.6
Impossible 36.1 30.4 43.8 38.1 43.4
DA/NA 19.7 12.1 9.1 12.8 13.0

Table 4 results give us ground to compare Belarusians’ and Russians’ evaluations of national legislative authorities. In the first and the second variants of answer the difference of evaluations doesn’t exceed the limit of statistical error. In the third variant (“Parliamentarians are mostly busy solving their own problems”) Russians’ evaluations are 13 points higher than Belarusians’. On the contrary, in the third variant of answer (“I don’t know what the Parliament does”) Belarusians’ advantage amounted to 11 points.

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which opinion about the work of Belarusian (Russian) Parliament do you agree most?”, %

Variant of answer Belarus Russia*
The Parliament works proactively and passes legislations important for Belarus (Russia) 16.9 14
Its activity is reduced to servicing the political course of President A. Lukashenko (V. Putin) 31.6 28
Parliamentarians are mostly busy solving their own problems 22.7 36
I don’t know what the Parliament does 24.6 14
DA/NA 4.2 8

* Levada-Center results, January 2014

These differences are not coincidental. There are no fractions in the Parliament of Belarus, unlike in Russia. Its main aim is to demonstrate unity of Belarusian people around the head of state. It has minimal influence on practical tasks, and therefore its activities are rarely described on TV.

Russian Parliament is a gathering of sectoral and regional lobbies, which all have their roles in the distribution of budgetary “cake”. Naturally, main activities of the Parliament are conducted “under the cover”, but public scandals are not rare and this is why Russians are better aware of the Parliament’s work.

We asked the question about the results of voting in Presidential elections in October 2015 once again in March survey. There were no unexpected results (Table 5). The results are almost same as in December. The only difference is the variant “None of the above” (+5 points). The increase in this variant happened at the expense of respondents who didn’t take part on the voting.

Table 5. Dynamics of answering the question: “Who did you vote for in the last elections of President of Republic of Belarus?”, %

Variant of answer 12’15 03’16
Sergey Gaydukevich 5.2 7.4
Tatiana Korotkevich 15.7 13.9
Alexander Lukashenko 35.6 35.6
Nikolay Ulakhovich 1.9 2.2
None of the above 8.9 13.9
Don’t remember 0.2 2.0
Didn’t vote/NA 32.5 25.0

According to the level of electoral support A. Lukashenko remains hors concourse. His rating is supported by the mass belief in the possibility of returning back to the course which provided improvement of financial standing in the “noughties”. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, there is no alternative, and this situation is formed by state TV channels.

As opposed to his Russian colleague, A. Lukashenko’s opportunities to maintain his rating at the expense of overblowing external threats are almost exhausted. As for the struggle with the issues of everyday life, chances of success are close to zero for the 5-time champion, and it was always clear to the Belarusian minority. As for the majority, their illusions are going to collapse in the next few years.