Opinion of the population on fluctuations of A. Lukashenko’s rating both depicts public stereotypes and shows the tendency of president’s rating. This is a kind of leading indicator which points out the trend of a rating change. For example, if you ask several people “What time is it now?” an average value will hit almost exact time. Answers to the question on rating aren’t that clear but they show general tendencies. Let’s look at Picture 1.

Picture 1. Dynamics of answer distribution to the question “In your opinion, has A. Lukashenko’s rating (i.e. readiness of people to vote for him at the next presidential election) increased or dropped down since the presidential election of 2004?”, %

Thus, progressively increasing number of respondents considers that A. Lukashenko’s rating has growing tendency. However, they are a minority so far. Until recently, over half of respondents were convinced that president’s rating is going down. For the past six months the situation changed radically. Yet in spring, 52% of the polled said that the rating of the head of state was decreasing and in autumn their number dropped down twofold.

There are several reasons of this. It is entirely possible that president’s trips into almost all Belarusian regions, rise in pensions and grants as well as certain improvement of relations between the official Minsk and Moscow are one of the reasons. Also, this is rapprochement of the presidential election and its coverage in the official mass media while the information about an alternative candidate remains available for common citizens. This means mass expectations that A. Lukashenko will stay in his office have received additional encouragement. This changed momentary assessment of mass preferences. In addition, in August the president openly declared that he not only considers a possibility but really intends to run for the third presidential term.

It may also be assumed that the respondents convinced of A. Lukashenko’s falling rating didn’t join the opposite camp but took an intermediary stand, i.e. consider that president’s rating “remained unchanged” after the presidential election of 2001.

Diagram at Picture 1 transparently shows that the number of citizens assuming that A. Lukashenko’s rating remains at the earlier level, increased or dropped down has become about the same for the first time from the latest presidential election. Till September of 2005, only the two first groups were nearly equal. Their representatives were close in their perception: increasing support to presidential policy or stable support to presidential policy.

There’s an opinion that, under authoritarian regime, ratings not that much reflect people’s assessment of the activity carried by political agents as indicate people’s expectations: will the majority support the authorities or not? Under such an assumption, we can sum up answers of those respondents who feel that A. Lukashenko’s rating increases and those who think it stays at the same level, and we will receive the part of the population expecting stability of support to his policy. Answers of those respondents who point out to decrease in A. Lukashenko’s rating can be interpreted as expectations of decreasing support. (See Picture 2).

Picture 2. Dynamics of expected support to the president’s political course, %

This diagram shows fluctuation of momentary assessment of mass expectations within the Belarusian society before the presidential campaign of 2006. After the presidential election of 2001, dominating was the opinion that A. Lukashenko’s rating was falling down. Now, the situation has changed.

We’ll try to find out how different the feeling of rating is within different population groups. (See Table 1).

Table 1. Assessment of A. Lukashenko’s rating in different groups depending on type of activity*, %

Groups on activity type

A. Lukashenko’s rating



Remained unchanged

Private sector employees




Public sector employees








* This table and the tables below are read across

The part of those who think that A. Lukashenko’s rating didn’t change is approximately the same in all three social groups. Dominating among private sector employees are those who feel decline of presidential rating while among public sector employees, especially pensioners, the majority believes the presidential rating is going up. It is obvious that assessment of mass preference is very different within different sectors of economy. However, this doesn’t mean that all private sector employees are supporters of changes and all public sector employees are opponents of changes. In fact, due to respondents considering A. Lukashenko’s rating unchanged from 2001, the group of those who expect continuance of presidential policy is prevailing in both economic sectors.

Let’s now see how the feeling of rating varied in 2005 among different segments of population depending on their incomes. (See Table 2).

Table 2. Assessment of A. Lukashenko’s rating depending on the level of incomes, %

Level of incomes

A. Lukashenko’s rating



Remained unchanged

Up to 150 000 BYR




From 150 000 BYR to 230 000 BYR




From 230 000 BYR to 460 000 BYR




Above 460 000 BYR




It is evident that approximately equal parts of respondents with different incomes say that the rating stays at the same level. Dominating among respondents with higher incomes is the opinion that presidential rating is falling down and among respondents with lower incomes – that it is growing up.

According to data from Tables 3 and 4, citizens of small towns and villages assess president’s rating with a greater optimism. They have apparently been influenced by A. Lukashenko’s business trips during the harvest campaign and after the August hurricane. The head of state announced then his intention to solve the problems of the village and small towns (“All that I can do, I’ll do for the revival of village!”) Also, right in a village field of Slutsk area and not in the capital he announced his decision to run for presidency.

Table 3. Assessment of A. Lukashenko’s rating depending on the type of settlement, %

Type of settlement

A. Lukashenko’s rating



Remained unchanged





Regional center
















Table 4. Assessment of A. Lukashenko’s rating depending on the place of settlement, %

Place of settlement

A. Lukashenko’s rating



Remained unchanged





Minsk region




Brest region




Grodno region




Vitebsk region




Mogilev region




Gomel region




A. Lukashenko’s July trip to his native places at the border of Vitebsk and Mogilev regions was accompanied by promises to create new workplaces and attract large-scale investments into these regions. Several more July trips to Grodno and Brest regions might have provoked growth of positive expectations to go forth with the current political course. This is why the opinion of Mogilev respondents on the growth of president’s rating seems fairly reasonable. As it goes from Table 4, equally high number of respondents in the Gomel region which the president visited long time ago and to which he didn’t promised any great investment projects also points out to the growth of rating. Yet, presidential rating is traditionally high in the areas which survived the Chernobyl catastrophe.

There’s certain regularity in distribution of answers if they are compared with presence or absence of the social and political non-state mass media in a particular place. Thus, there are no registered independent editions in Gomel and Mogilev regions and it is exactly in these regions where the most respondents state growing presidential rating (even though democratic forces are pretty strong in the Gomel region). In the Grodno region, they closed liberal newspaper Birzha Informatsii (Information Exchange) and took the Union of Poles in Belarus as well as its mass media under their control. As a result, the part of citizens feeling growth of support to the current regime has reached 42.3%, although until the very last moment the advantage in this region belonged to A. Lukashenko’s opponents.

On the contrary, in the Brest region where non-state mass media haven’t been cleared totally 44.2% of respondents consider that A. Lukashenko’s rating stays the same and the part of those who think that it is falling or it is growing is similar to Minsk. Citizens of Minsk where non-state media and other alternative sources of information (the Internet, TV) are more available are leading in the opinion that support of A. Lukashenko is falling down. This is the viewpoint of 23.4% of respondents in general around the country and of 33.1% of those living in Minsk.

Remarkably, Grodno and Brest regions are on the top in the number of answers like “many people are afraid to express their political viewpoints” – 46.3% and 46.8% respectively. Comparison of this data with the momentary feeling of A. Lukashenko rating in both regions drives to the idea that respondents might proceed from basically different assumptions of mass preferences and the same degree of fear of expressing a political standpoint.

The proposition that readiness of respondents to support the president at the forthcoming election is inversely proportional to availability of alternative sources of information in this region accounts for the promoted by the authorities “information security” interpreted as the “cold war”. In this context, dissemination of information on the current situation in Belarus is considered as hostile plots requiring countermeasures.

Applying such a policy, the authorities have reached considerable progress in promoting the idea of no alternative to A. Lukashenko at the presidential election, in weakening influence of the civic society on the public opinion, in cutting opportunities of non-state mass media and in ousting them from the distribution network. Assumption of respondents about growth or decline of the president’s rating is directly connected with the phenomenon called “spiral of silence” introduced by German sociologist E. Noelle-Neumann. Its idea is that respondents led by the fear of isolation often express the opinion supported, as they think, by the majority.

As we have already noted, this ends up in inability of adherents of changes in the Belarusian society to implement their true power. It is noteworthy that 50.2% of respondents agreed with the president’s statements on the forthcoming presidential election: “I think people will support me. Do they need a pig in a poke? Why trading bad for worse? This is how every person thinks.” However, only 47% of respondents are ready to vote for A. Lukashenko and 72% predict his victory. Faulty assessment of mass preferences may lead to self-implementation of the forecast. This is only a sole candidate who can correct this mistake by consolidating democratic voters and thus untwisting the “spiral of silence”.