IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),
N 3 (61), 2011




From developed democracy to chaos and anarchy
Who fills the rating vacuum?
Between a dialogue and a demand for immediate resignation
Who “my militia” takes care of
How the disabled live in Belarus
Are Belarusians going to struggle for a geopolitical choice?
A sociological portrait of supporters of the civil campaign “Our House” and its leader

Some results of the opinion poll conducted in September 2011




Leonid Zaiko, Ph. D.
“An epicrisis of the country which “did not return from the war”


Dear readers!


In the current issue of the analytic bulletin “IISEPS News” we offer to your attention materials reflecting the most important results of the Institute research in the third quarter of 2011.
“Economic feeling” of the Belarusians is still bad: the absolute majority of respondents (87.6%) think that Belarusian economy is in crisis, almost three thirds say that their financial standing has become worse for the last three months, over a half of respondents expect worsening of the socio-economic situation in the country within the next few years. At the same time the number of those who suppose that their condition has improved during this time and of those who look to the future without apprehension has grown by several percent. In other words, there is no change for the worse in comparison with June. Since there was virtually no improvement of economic indicators in the third quarter, it means that the “negative adaptation” mechanism, when people adjust to the situation by lowering their needs and expectations, is turned on.
However, the socio-economic crisis begins to tell more and more on the Belarusians’ “political feeling”, i.e. on their attitude to the authorities. The number of those who consider that the situation in Belarus is developing in general in the wrong direction has increased for three months from 61.8% to 68.5%, and of those who consider that it is developing in the right direction has, on the contrary, decreased by almost 10% having reached the lowest rate during the whole history of IISEPS monitoring. As opposed to the previous crisis situations, more and more respondents blame president for it: at that their number has grown for three months from 44.5% to 61.2%; only 10% agreed that the people themselves were responsible. This in its turn entailed a real downfall of the attitude to A. Lukashenko. Thus, the number of those who do not trust the president has risen from 53.8% to 62% for three months, and the number of those who trust him has shrunk from 35.7% to 24.5%. For the first time the number of those who expect improvement of life in Belarus after A. Lukashenko’s resignation has exceeded the number of those who expect worsening of life, and the number of those who think that life will remain the same has noticeably declined. His electoral rating has dropped during only nine months 2.5 times, having reached 20.5% – the minimum level during the whole 17-year-history of IISEPS monitoring (until now the historic minimum was the 26.2% rat-ing in March 2003).
The September opinion poll shows that people’s dissatisfaction is gradually acquiring political forms. Today already 28.3% consider themselves in opposition to the present authorities – not too much so far, but the growth has made up almost 10% since December. Answering the question: “What initiatives of Belarusian politicians do you support?” the largest part of respondents (almost 40%) still chooses “offering the authorities a dialogue for the sake of a joint search for the way out of the crisis”, however the second group (almost 35%) already prefers “a demand for A. Lukashenko’s immediate resignation”. On the other hand, those who already see “a real revolution” behind those figures should not be too hopeful. The level of readiness for public actions in order to express one’s opinion (such as political meetings, demonstrations, strikes, hunger strikes and armed struggle) remains as before. Opposition leaders’ ratings are a conspicuous indicator of the Belarusians’ real protest potential. Thus, in spite of the 2.5-fold drop in A. Lukashenko’s rating during nine months, the “aggregate” rating of the opposition leaders constitutes no more than 20%. But then the number of those who found it difficult to answer, and of those who gave a different answer or did not answer at all, grew from 29% to almost 55%. Thereby, the protest potential which is accumulating in the society is not yet “concentrating” on any real alternatives (opposition bodies, programs, leaders). As history proves, social explosions which appear in such situations, may lead to results opposite to the expected ones. It should be mentioned that September opinion poll was held before the introduction of the ruble’s free rate which will certainly abate the dissatisfaction that has accumulated in spring and summer. If during several months the authorities manage to find something to close the “financial gaps” with, the situation might improve again.
In general there are still no changes at the “foreign-policy front”: at a hypothetical referendum approximately 42% of respondents would vote for integration with Russia, as well as for joining the EU. Assessing a recent statement of the Russian prime minister V. Putin that real integration of Russia and Belarus “is possible, is rather desirable and fully depends on the Belarusian people” and that “supporters of this idea should struggle for its implementation”, 11.6% said “I am against of Belarus and Russia integrating into one state, and I am going to struggle against it”; 38.2% – “I am against of Belarus and Russia integrating into one state, but I am not going to struggle against it”; 34% – “I am for Belarus and Russia integrating into one state, but I am not going to struggle for it” and 6.7% – “I am for Belarus and Russia integrating into one state, and I am going to struggle for it” (9.5% found it difficult to answer). As it can be seen, in spite of an obvious strengthening of ideas of state independence and Belarus sovereignty in the public opinion, the real ratio of their convinced supporters and of those for whom they are not cardinal (50% vs. 40%) reserves a probability of very different geopolitical scenarios.
As usual, the readers more interested in our figures than in assessments are given an opportunity to analyze on their own the research results by means of counting up in terms of main socio-demographic characteristics.
Regular readers of our bulletin must remember the rubric “State against independent researches” where evidence of repressions against the IISEPS and BTT (Belarusian Think Tanks) was published about 6-7 years ago. In June of the previous year we had to return to the topic and relate the attempts of the authorities to dismiss the founder of the institute Prof. O. Manaev from Belarusian State University. Today our “Open Forum” presents to the readers documents of a fresh wave of persecutions against independent researches.
In the “Bookshelf” rubric head of the Analytical center “Strategy” L. Zaiko presents to the readers of the bulletin a new book of the IISEPS “Youth and civil society in Belarus: a new generation”, which continues the tradition of the institute begun in the 90s.
As usual, we are looking forward to your feedback!