IISEPS News, N 1 (19), 2001



Life in Our Time:
Results of a national public opinion poll (Winter’2000-2001)

Open Forum:
P. Kozlovsky, ex-Minister of Defence Republic of Belarus
We must to Save Belarus!


Dear readers!


The next 19th issue of the bulletin “IISEPS News” calls your attention to the most important results of surveys and analysis conducted by our institute in the first quarter of the new century.
While in the fall of 2000 the parliamentary election became a counterpoint of social-political life in Belarus (the previous issue of the bulletin was dedicated to analysis of its results), this year social-political life will undoubtedly go under the sign of the presidential election. Though officially the election date has not been announced yet, passions are simmering: there are contenders already, political and civic coalitions are being formed, election platforms and scenarios are being developed, various international delegations (from members of the Belarus-Russia Union Supreme Council to members of NATO Parliamentary Assembly) have become regular visitors to Belarus, and the confrontation of authorities and the opposition is entering a news phase.
In this murky social-political atmosphere the need of objective information, unbiased analysis, sound conclusions and recommendations becomes one of the most essential needs. How does Belarusian society sense this atmosphere, does it feel like electorate (in other words, is it ready to election)? Does it consider presidential election as a mechanism of social changes or maintaining status-quo? Is it united in its feelings and moods or split? How do opinions and moods of public and elite (ruling and opposition) differ? Which factors could affect strengthening or changing such opinions and moods: power, opposition, Russia, the West? Which mechanisms of this influence could be the most efficient, i.e. acceptable for society? As the election approaches and social-political atmosphere gets tenser, information and analysis providing answers to these questions becomes more valuable. Clearly, IISEPS does not lay claim to fullness of its information, or the truth in the last resort. We are just convinced that in this situation results of professionally conducted surveys and analysis are needed by everyone: opposition, power, Russia, the West, and the most important – by society as a whole. Experience shows that in situations of crucial importance as presidential election biased information or analysis leads to grave consequences, and not only for candidates, but for the whole society.
The new issue of the bulletin is almost completely based on the results of the project “Belarus: ways of social transformation,” carried out by IISEPS jointly with colleagues from the Belarusian Think Tanks in cooperation with the Democratic Forces Coordination Council, as well as the new project “Belarus: prospects in the 21st century,” launched by IISEPS together with colleagues from BTT and carried out in cooperation with a wide representation of democratic forces in Belarus. Realistically, results of a monthly sociological monitoring of public opinion and opinion of elite, their comparative analysis, and “live information” presented in the points of view of the most important social-demographic groups and trends provides not full, but quite credible and actual picture of society’s condition before the presidential campaign.
This time out traditional rubric “Free Tribune” is given to former Belarusian defense minister Pavel Kozlovsky. Unlike other well known Belarusian politicians, views of this candidate for presidency are little known to the majority of people. Some perceive his presidential ambitions with hope: “a strong hand appears!” Others – with fear: “a general goes into power!” But some – with bewilderment: how someone with no “political affiliation” could count on success? We believe that life experience of General Kozlovsky is worth considering and paying attention to his assessment of Belarus’s present and future.
As usual, we express hope that materials of this issue would be interesting and useful to you and your colleagues. We are looking forward to receiving your comments!