JUNE 2016: MESSAGE-2016

Belarusians’ attention to the annual messages of the head of state oscillates in a pretty wide range. Over the last 10 years it achieved its high only in the year of the third presidential election (69%). It’s low coincides with the first year of the fifth term (49%) after the exhaustion of the mobilization resource of “Crimeaisours” (chart 1).

Awareness of the Message may serve as an indicator of interest of different socio-demographic groups to the processes outside the narrow frames of everyday life. In the oldest age group (60+) it turned out to be twice as high as in the youngest (18-29) – 67.1% vs. 32.6%. Men, although insignificantly, are more interested than women – 52.15 vs. 47.0%. The inverse relationship between the awareness and the level of education comes as a surprise: primary education – 70.5%, higher education – 54.2%. Partially this phenomenon might be explained by the age of respondents: among people with primary education prevail elderly people, and watching TV is their main pastime.

Table 2 data provides for evaluation of Belarusians’ attitude to the most outstanding statements made by Alexander Lukashenko during the Message.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question “How do you relate to the following statements, which A. Lukashenko made during the message?” depending on the level of trust to the head of state, %

Variant of answer Agree Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Trust Trust
All necessary decisions for economy development were made by the power, now it’s time to implement them 31.1 73.2 17.2
Major role in slowing down of economy development was played by external factors. 45.8 80.6 19.1
State institutions can create 50 thousand new jobs annually 30.5 68.1 21.7
The main treasure today and tomorrow is brains. Science, innovations, not what God put into the ground. 64.0 69.7 58.4
The state defends rights, propriety and dignity of all entrepreneurs who run their businesses honestly. 32.5 65.8 8.4
Belarus takes the top spot in the world-wide rating of access to medical care. 29.6 50.6 14.8
Today Belarus is the mainstay of security in the region. 42.7 75.5 15.6
At the heart of state policy lays concern for people, for improvement of their well-being and standards of living. 32.9 67.6 6.3

There is only one statement that majority of respondents agreed with (both the head of state’s supporters and opponents): “The main treasure today and tomorrow is brains. Science, innovations, not what God put into the ground.” In essence, this is a banality, and it would have been strange if Belarusians hadn’t supported this.

The reference to external factors as the main reason for slowing down of economy development is very close to the symbolic 50% support. At the same time, the difference between Lukashenko’s supporters and opponents is 4-fold.

The record-high difference (10-fold) between the evaluations of politically opposed groups of respondents was registered in relation to the statement on state policy, which supposedly has concern for people at its heart. We’ve mentioned multiple times that, in the course of almost two decades, Belarusian state was building communication with society on the grounds of contract “loyalty in exchange for incomes growth”. Within the framework of this contract loyal supporters of Lukashenko definitely felt this “concern for people” from the state.

However, third year running, the state is obliged to abandon past social commitments. Majority of Lukashenko’s supporters have not realized it yet by inertia.

Five of eight statements, made during the Message-2016, were agreed with by less than a third of respondents. Both the author of the Message and our respondents make their evaluation basing on real life. It’s just that real life on the different sides of the fence of “The Palace of Independence” is built upon diametrically opposite principles.