Social optimism is the indicator determining the current condition of the society. Obviously, sooner or later Belarus will have to face painful economic reforms, which should be carried out with knowledge of the population’s possible reaction at the situation when the ability of each person to help himself is key to success. The necessity to keep the present social-economic order President A. Lukashenko explains by reluctance to carry out reforms and “break Belarusians” who are accustomed to care from the side of the state. He called the Belarusian economic model his “major achievement”, and at the latest press conference he stated that the policy of the present authorities would remain unchanged because it enjoys support of the majority of the population. But the population, as we could see, has a different vision of the situation.

Since the 2001 presidential election the number of the respondents who believe that Belarus develops in a wrong direction – we shall call them pessimists – has been twofold bigger than the number of optimists – those who think in the opposite.
And the direction of the country’s development, as we know, is to a great extent determined by activity of the head of state. At present estimation of his professional activity is that (See Table 1) the president’s success, recognition of his managerial merits is out of the question – to some extent about 60% of the respondents are dissatisfied with A. Lukashenko’s ruling. We have already accustomed to the mirror picture of answers of the president’s supporters and opponents in such case. As well as to the fact that Belarus’ youth as a whole, not taking into account its political views, is negative about the present leader – 20.6% of the respondents aged 18–29 partially dissatisfied, 53.4% – rather dissatisfied with A. Lukashenko’s ruling.

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question “Are you satisfied with A. Lukashenko’s ruling?”, %

Dissatisfaction with the present causes scepsis with respect to the future (See Table 2). One-third of the respondents expects the social-economic situation to deteriorate in the future, whereas only twofold less Belarusians still cherish hopes for improvement. A. Lukashenko’s supporters and opponents demonstrate the diametrical opposition of their views. The young generation, what is quite expressive, is inclined to share the point of view of the latter group – 41% of the respondents aged 18–29 have no doubts the social-economic situation will deteriorate, and only 10.2% hope for the better.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question “How would the economic situation in Belarus change in the years to come?”, %

The reasons for such a skeptical vision of the future of Belarusians could be explained with the data of Table 3. It turns out that Belarusians do not expect authorities to start economic reforms, rapprochement with Russia or the West, mostly they rely on themselves (30.7%). On the one hand, that is not bad – people with such liberal motto (help yourself!) are hard to be manipulated, they form the social basis for changes and are ready to stand inevitable hardships. On the other hand, with the dominating paternalist model of state these figures prove it failed.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question “What do you expect from the present authorities?”, %

Naturally, A. Lukashenko’s supporters, who are to a great extent recipients of state aid and social outsiders, are quite satisfied with such policy, and they expect the authorities, first of all, to ensure stability (34.7%). Whereas A. Lukashenko’s opponents – the most dynamic and educated part of the society, rejecting the present stability (for many it is a synonym of the absence of possibilities for self-realization) and doubting economic reforms – count on themselves more than the rest of Belarusians.
But if we have to live in line with this principle, it would be better to do it where there are more favorable conditions for success of active and dynamic people. A considerable part of the youth is prone to draw such conclusion: 38.3% of all the respondents want to move abroad, among those aged 18–29 – the figure is 63.4%.
But how dissatisfaction with the current situation in the country, its present leader, and also doubt of positive changes and absence of illusions influence Belarusians’ political mood? As we see from Table 4, regardless of the state propaganda and the repressive machine, more than 40% of the respondents are never afraid of expressing their political views.

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question “Are you personally ready to openly express your political views?”

In fact, when earlier we asked the question “Do you think people are ready to openly express their political views?”, the picture was more pessimistic – about 70% of the respondents were confident that to a different extent Belarusians are afraid of expressing their views. When we asked the question to the respondents, we saw more courage. It turns out that people think better of themselves than of others.
And those who stand up for their interests publicly enjoy today a favorable attitude – more than two thirds of the respondents consider actions of small entrepreneurs (who recently carried out a 100,000-strong strike against increasing taxes and other limitations on their activity from the side of the state) reasonable (unreasonable – only one fifth).