We’ve already noted many times that at the heart of demand for changes lies, in the first place, the dissatisfaction of Belarusians with their current financial well-being. That is why the relative stabilization in economy in the second quarter of the year didn’t significantly influence the number of supporters and opponents of changes.

In the years 2006 and 2011 of chart 1 you can see the historical low and high of respondents’ answers. Comparatively to the “fat” year 2006 the number of supporters and opponents of changes changed almost two-fold. On the contrary, comparatively to 2011 the changes are minimal.

Among respondents with monthly income below 1.7 million rubles the share of supporters of maintaining of the current situation amounted to 11.2% (2.3 times lower than average). It would seem that with the transition from the group of respondents with monthly income between 1.7 and 2.8 million rubles to the group with monthly income above 5.6 million rubles the share of conservators should grow successively. However, in reality there is a “plateau” limited by statistical error near the average value of 27.5%.

Dissatisfaction with material position is the main but not the only reason influencing Belarusians’ conservatism, as changes are not always for the better. That is why many people prefer to have a bird in the hand than two in the wood, and there is nothing surprising in the fact, that women follow this principle more often than men (30.4% vs. 18.9%), people older than 60 – than young people aged 18-29 (46.2% vs. 17.7%), and people with primary education – than people with higher education (42.7% vs. 19.3%).

As for Belarusians sharing opposite political views, Lukashenko’s supporters prevail over his opponents in their conservatism by 13.5 times (54.7% vs. 4.1%).

Chart 2 provides for evaluation of the changes in public opinion regarding the social tension in society over two decades. The main difference of current evaluations form those of 1996 is polarization. In June the variant of answer “Social tension is quite high in Belrusian society, and it tends to grow further” was chosen by 27.2% of respondents (Lukashenko’s supporters – 7.5%, opponents – 46.6%). This is by 8.2 points more than in the year of the second constitutional referendum and by 10 points more than in the “fat” years of the third and the fourth presidential elections.

Increase of polarization in the evaluations of social tension is an important characteristic of social opinion on the current stage of development of the Belarusian model.

Belarus is a nook of stability in the anxious modern world. Stability is more important than material well-being. These are the slogans that Belarusian power attempts to use nowadays to communicate with the society. But in the split society acceptance of such slogans by supporters and opponents of the power may differ by an order of magnitude (table 3).

What is perceived as stability by some people, looks like stagnation for others. Unfortunately, today’s alternative for both stability and stagnation is not development but degradation, which is registered by the official economic statistics.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question “Recently President Alexander Lukashenko said that “Amid the current troubled situation Belarus is rightly considered as a nook of stability”. But many people think that “Belarusian stability is closer to stagnation, and there is no development in the country”. What do you think about it?”, %

Variant of answer All Respondents Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Trust Don’t trust
I agree that “amid the current troubled situation Belarus is rightly considered as a nook of stability” 33.4 65.5 6.3
I agree that “our stability is closer to stagnation, and there is no development in the country” 53.5 26.0 80.4
DA/NA 13.1 8.5 13.3

“People had exhausted the limit of revolutions and tragedies in the last century.” Alexander Lukashenko reminded this to the people and the world during the V All-Belarusian People’s Assembly.  But revolutions are never made “on order”. The most famous theoretical and practical expert of revolutions Vladimir Lenin understood it very well a century ago. As a rule, the choice between evolutionary and revolutionary ways of development is not made on the orders of politicians. Nevertheless, in no society majority ever strives for violent changes purposely.

Belarusian society is not an exception in this case. In June 2016 idea of changes at the expense of street protests enjoyed popularity only among 14.7% of respondents (chart 4). This is almost 1.5 time as much as during the patriotic euphoria which reduced the acuteness of current economic problems.

Economic crises boost demand for changes. According to Belarusian opposition, this should lead to an increase of protest moods. Chart 4 results do not contradict this opinion. However, one should not be deluded, taking the growth of diffuse dissatisfaction for real readiness to protest.

Increase of the number of the so-called change supporters is an indicator of the level of satisfaction with the current situation in the atomized society unable for collective actions.