The most important results of the public opinion poll in June 2016

(1.512 persons aged 18 and over were interviewed, margin of error doesn’t exceed 0.03)

  1. In the second quarter financial well-being of Belarusians has slightly improved, although it still remains quite unstable:
    • Only 7.6% of respondents consider that their financial standing improved, 44.2% believe that it remained unchanged, and 46.1% say it became worse (in Match these shares were 5.5%, 33.4%, and 59.6% accordingly). Average income per family member (including salaries, pensions, social benefits and other incomes) over the past month grew from $147 in March to $170 in June (in June 2015 it amounted to $240). Today 81% of respondents consider that Belarusian economy is in crisis (87.8% in March, 67% in December); 27.8% of respondents agree that the crisis is caused by external reasons, while 45.7% mention internal reasons. Among the most acute problems facing the country and its citizens are mentioned price hike (73.2%), unemployment (almost 55%), impoverishment of people (over 52%), and production decline (47.6%). According to most respondents, citizens of all neighboring countries (except Ukraine which is currently at war) enjoy higher standards of life in comparison with Belarus.
    • Evaluating Alexander Lukashenko’s decree increasing retirement age, only 19% of respondents agreed that it was necessary in order to “increase pensions”. Over 70% of respondents consider that “most people won’t live long enough” to receive pensions at all. Only 15.1% agreed with Lukashenko’s words that “absolute majority of our citizens are concordant with the retirement age increase”, while almost 59% disagreed with it. As for his recent statement that “Amid the current troubled situation Belarus is rightly considered as a nook of stability”, only one third of respondents agreed with it. 53.4% of respondents consider that “our stability is closer to stagnation, and there is no development in the country”. According to 29.1%, in general the state of things in our country is developing in the right direction, while 59% of respondents share the opposite opinion (in December this ratio was 36.7% vs. 50.9%). At the same time, Belarusians’ optimism has slightly increased: in March 12.7% expected an improvement of the socio-economic situation in Belarus, and 42.9% expected a worsening of it; today the ratio is 19.9% vs. 36.3%.
  2. Belarusians’ attitude to state institutions remains quite critical:
    • The number of respondents who don’t trust the main state institutions is still bigger today than the number of those who trust them. Just like in 2011, majority of Belarusians hold the President responsible for the current economic crisis: 42.3% of respondents share this opinion. 35.6% and 12.8% blame the government and the Parliament. In March these shares were equal to 47%, 48.3%, 22.7% accordingly. Majority of respondents reacted critically to the main thesis of the Spring Message of Alexander Lukashenko to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly. Here is the rating of popularity of some of his statements: “all necessary decisions for economy development were made by the Power, now it’s time to implement them” – 31.1% agreed, 55.8% disagreed; “at the heart of state policy lays concern for people, for improvement of their well-being and standards of living” – 32.9% vs. 52.7%; “the state defends rights, propriety and dignity of all entrepreneurs who run their businesses honestly” – 32.5% vs. 51.5%; “state institutions can create 50 thousand new jobs annually” – 30.5% vs. 55.4%; “Belarus takes the top spot in the world-wide rating of access to medical care” – 29.6% vs. 54.8%. Only a quarter of respondents agreed that “Alexander Lukashenko will succeed in fighting against corruption after a serious purge of high-ranked officials and after introduction of more serious penalties for such crimes”; slightly more than a quarter of respondents believe that “it is not likely that he will succeed, as corruption in Belarus is ineradicable”; over 45% suspects that “he depends on corrupted officials himself” or even “he is interested in it in one or another way”.
    • Belarusians grow more and more critical of changes in the social structure of society happening under the influence of state policy: the role of power agents becomes more important, and the role of cultural/scientific elite and common people constantly diminishes. Ten years ago 37% of respondents believed that Alexander Lukashenko relies mostly on the presidential hierarchy line, today this share amounts to 54.4% (state officials – 20.5% vs. 32.1% accordingly; cultural and scientific elite – 8.3% vs. 4.4%; retired people – 41.4% vs. 21.8%; rural men – 30.2% vs. 11.5%; common people – 34.2% vs. 8.2%). That is why less than 30% of respondents say that “it is my state, it protects my interests”; 47.1% – “it is only partially my state, it doesn’t protect my interests enough”; 15.2% – “it is not my state, it does not protect my interests and I do not trust it” (a year ago the ratio was 41.2% vs. 43.8% vs. 9.7%). The number of those who think that “the fact that almost all of the power is concentrated in the hands of Alexander Lukashenko is for the benefit of Belarus” decreased from 44.4% in September 2009 down to 31.3%. As for the number of those who believe that “there is nothing good about it”, it increased from 36% up to 55.5%.
  3. The desire for changes in the Belarusian society doesn’t decrease:
    • Ten years ago 53.4% of respondents said that maintaining of the current situation was more important for them, and 37.8% would have preferred changing of the current situation; today only 24.7% of respondents advocate maintaining of the situation, while 67.3% support changes. Elections and referendums remain the most realistic and desirable variant of changes for the majority of Belarusians, although their appeal gradually decreases (two years ago 50.1% and 29.4% mentioned them, today the shares are 44.1% and 26.2%). Street protests gain some popularity: 14.7% today vs. 8% two years ago. Growing dissatisfaction with the policy of the power and the opposition is visible in the way people assess the most important political events of both sides – the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly in June and the Congress of Democratic Forces in May (re-baptized as the National Congress at the last minute). Thus, only 28% of respondents agreed that All-Belarusian People’s Assemblies are “the supreme implementation of popular rule”, while every second respondent calls it a “the power’s “show” for the people”. Only 28.2% agreed that Congresses of Democratic Forces are “the supreme expression of people’s disagreement with the policy of the power”, while almost 45% call it “a “show” of the opposition for the people”. As a whole, protest potential remains low. Although the rating of oppositional political parties has slightly increased recently (from 11.3% in March up to 21.3% in June), ratings of the most popular oppositional leaders are still not comparable with the President’s. If presidential elections were to be held tomorrow, 5.1% of respondents would have voted for Tatiana Korotkevich, 4.5% – for Nikolai Statkevich, 3.1% – for Vladimir Neklyaev and Alexander Milinkevich. The ratings of other politicians do not exceed the error of representativeness. The lack of appealing internal alternative together with external challenges suppresses the radicalization of critical attitude towards the power: although Lukashenko’s trust rating decreased from 41.7% in March down to 38.6% in June, his electoral rating grew from 27.3% up to 29.5%.
    • Currently the power and the opposition are getting prepared to the most important political event of the year – parliamentary elections on September 11. Today 51.8% of respondents are ready to participate in these elections, 19.6% are not going to vote, and 25% haven’t decided yet. 26.4% of respondents will vote for candidates supporting Alexander Lukashenko, another 26.4% will vote for his opponents, 24.5% will vote for another candidate, and a quarter of respondents don’t know yet. 38.1% of respondents expect these elections to be free and just, 36.1% share the opposite opinion, a quarter of respondents find this question difficult to answer (let us note that on the eve of parliamentary elections in 2012 the results of these questions were almost the same, and according to post-electoral surveys in 2008 and 2012 two thirds of respondents participated in elections). 51.2% agree with the recent statement of Lukashenko that “Belarusian electoral law is not worse than in other countries where elections were accepted by the international structures”; 33.8% disagree with this statement. 45.1% and 34.7% agree and disagree with the statement “only worthy representatives of work collectives, political parties and social associations will join the electoral committees”. However, only 38.4% of respondents agree that “people’s will, according to the hands-on experience, will be expressed in the absolutely democratic atmosphere” (43.4% disagreed). Answering the question “Do you believe that results of elections depend on your vote?”, 37.5% of respondents gave a positive answer and 45.5% gave a negative one. However, it should be noted that, even if representatives of opposition will pass into the new parliament, one should not count on fast political changes. Not only due to the minimal role of parliament in political system of Belarus, but also due to the paternalistic mindset of Belarusians: almost two thirds of respondents believe that “the government is responsible for people’s well-being and is obliged to help people in the moments of need”. Only 30% of respondents think that “people are responsible for their well-being and should solve their issues by themselves”.
  4. The “pendulum” of geopolitical orientatiof Belarusians continues its swing towards the European end:
    • On a hypothetic referendum about joining the European Union 27.5% of respondents would vote “for” and 50.3% would
      vote “against” (in March the ratio was 23.4% vs. 53.9%, in December 19.8% vs. 56.1%). This trend is confirmed by the answers to the “either… or”-question: in December 53.5% of respondents were for integration with Russia and 25.1% for joining the EU, in March – 48% vs. 31.2%, today the ratio is 42% vs. 34%. The attitude towards the US is more complex. On the one hand, as previously, Belarusians consider the US to be the most hostile country – 25.4% of respondents gave this answer. On the other hand, general attitude to the US is positive or rather positive for 55.7% of respondents, while 35.3% have a negative/rather negative attitude. Accordingly, attitude to the Americans is 60.6% vs. 28.2%, to the American science and technology – 71.2% vs. 18.3%. Every third respondent maintains that “Belarus should restore normal relations with the US”; less than a quarter of respondents don’t consider it important, and 35% don’t care about it. It is evident that there is no deep aggressive anti-Americanism in Belarus as compared to Russia.
    • Geopolitical orientations of Belarusians are expressed best in the answers to real or hypothetical situations of armed conflicts. Thus, answering the question “Recently, there was an arms buildup around Belarus: Russia creates new divisions in the West region, and NATO locates their battalions in Poland and Baltic states. Some people in Belarus support Russia’s actions, others support NATO and the West. What is your position about it?”, 26.1% of respondents answered that they “support Russia’s actions: it would protect us from the possible NATO aggression”, 10.6% “support actions of NATO and the West: it would protect us from the possible Russian aggression. 58% “support neither side because Belarus could be dragged into an armed conflict”. Answering the question “If such a conflict happened, which side would you support?”, one third of respondents chose Russia, 13.4% – the West, and 43.5% would “try not to support either side”. Analysis of these answers shows that young people tend to distance themselves from a conflict and avoid taking any side in geopolitical confrontation. There is a strict linear dependency: the older respondents are, the higher involvement and support to Russia are. “It’s not my funeral” principle is also observed in the relation to the armed conflict in Ukraine. Answering the question “According to official information hundreds of Belarusian citizens participate in the battle actions in the East of Ukraine: some on the side if the Ukrainian army, others on the side of armed protesters. Belarusian powers express negative attitude towards it. Thus, a Belarusian fighter of The Right Sector has recently been confined to 5 years of imprisonment. What is your attitude to the participation of Belarusian citizens in the battle actions in Ukraine?”, 10.8% of respondents answered “positive, if they support the Ukrainian army”, 10.6% – “positive if they support armed protesters”, and 71% are negative about it.