Public opinion is ambivalent by its nature. Hence blaming it for illogicality and inconsistency is a hopeless occupation. September survey registered a significant growth of adherents of market economy in Belarus. Over a year and a half their share in society grew by 10.5 points (Table 1) and amounted to 74.3%, which is in fact a repetition of September 1998 record! It is important to underline, that the share of supporters of market economy with significant or insignificant state regulations increased as well. At the same time the share of latter exceeded its historical maximum of June 2004 (43.6%).
Table 1. Dynamics of answering the question: “What would you prefer for Belarus?”, %
Variant of answer
Market economy including:
insignificant state regulations
significant state regulations
State-planned economy
Still the victory of “marketers” over the adherents of planned economy was accompanied by a significant growth of number of people wishing to work at state enterprises: from 40.5% up to 51.6% over a year and a half (Table 2).
If truth be told it should be noted that number of those who wish to work at private enterprises increased as well. This multidirectionality of preferences was possible at the expense of the reduction of the share of those who had difficulties to answer down to a record low level (10-fold in comparison to March 2013). Nevertheless if we compare respondents’ answers in extreme columns of Tables 1 and 2, it is not difficult to see that there were no substantial changes in economical preferences of Belarusians over 16 years. There is nothing surprising about it. Stability of economical preferences is supported by the stability of Belarusian economy’s structure. The share of people whose incomes directly depend on the state-employer didn’t really change over the period under review.
That is why oscillations of economical preferences, registered over three five-year periods, are formed mainly under the influence of current events, both economical and political. The input of political events increased significantly since spring 2014 for obvious reasons.
Let’s compare the data for the years of presidential elections (the second and the third columns). As you can see, in Belarus year 2010 was marked by liberalization and this led to a decrease of share of those who want to work at state enterprises in comparison with 2006. But the number of people wishing to work at private enterprises didn’t increase. The share cut off the state enterprises went into the column DA/NA. It is evident that this redistribution couldn’t be stable, especially when you remember that liberalization stage in the modern history of Belarus was ended with a forced crackdown of the “Ploshcha”-demonstration on the 19th of December 2010.
It is understandable that A. Lukashenko’s supporters prefer to work at state enterprises (67.1% vs. 30.5%), while their political opponents prefer private companies (31.1% vs. 67.9%).
Gender-based preferences are not so brightly expressed, nevertheless, women’s choice in favor of state enterprises is evident – 57.2% vs. 44.2%. For men the ratio is reverse – 53.9% vs. 40.5%. Let us give a theoretical ground for these gender-based preferences (they appear in answers to most standard question of IISEPS). Any complicated self-organizing system has two fundamental tasks: the first one consists in supporting integrity and stability of the system; the second one consists in providing adaptivity to both external and internal challenges. These two conflicting tasks are being solved more or less efficiently only if they are morphologically assigned to different “organs” of the system. In our case women are responsible for integrity and stability and men provide adaptivity.