The sociological procedures carried out by IISEPS in October were conducted after the first round of the elections, which took place on October 15. Therefore, we could confidently (of course, within the 3% margin of error) talk about its results and possible aftermath.

The main result: in line with the returns of a national survey, 58.8% of the adult population participated in the election (and only one third of leaders and experts – but what does the elite decide in our country?), and only three test surveys prove the adequacy of this figure. A more detailed analysis showed that in Minsk, regional centers and large cities (with the population over 50.000 inhabitants), where more than half of the country’s population lives, the number of those who voted and who did not amounted to 50%, whereas in small cities and villages, where there rest of the population lives, the ratio was 69% to 31%. An independent monitoring (on which results the conclusions of the opposition were drawn), as it is known, was carried out in 43 constituencies. It is worth mentioning that it was mainly organized in the first group of settlements. The results of this monitoring were extrapolated to all 110 constituencies, which resulted in a distortion of the actual voting returns.
It is noteworthy that in accordance with the results of the previous national survey, which was conducted three weeks prior to the election, 59% of the respondents expressed desire to participate in the parliamentary election. As we could see, these figures (considering the sampling margin of error) almost coincide with the official results – 61%. That means that the election to the Lower Chamber took place and its results are valid, and that the figures of 40% to 45% announced by the opposition (and the logical conclusion – “People supported us!”) do not correspond to the reality.
Realistically, this fact does not change the political assessment of the election. More than 5.000 different violations that were documented by independent observers (see the article by M. Grib “Black Technologies”, which has recently come out in “Narodnaya Volya”), including coercion of people to vote for candidates of power, undoubtedly, show that the election was neither free, nor fair. Therefore the illegitimacy of the new parliament causes no doubt and it is unlikely to be recognized by the international community. What really causes doubt is a persistent and even stubborn unwillingness of the “strong opposition” leaders (i.e. those, who boycotted the election, denounced the colleagues that participated in the election, and who suggested mass protest actions as an alternative) to develop their strategy and tactics, considering the practical, but not an invented (desired) reality.
For example, only 9.5% of the respondents answered that the failure to meet the opposition and the OSCE demands affected their attitude towards participation in the parliamentary election, and a mere 7.5% pointed in this respect at the opposition’s decision to boycott the election. To what the initiators of the boycott would say: although there are few such people, but these are our steadfast adherers, and at least we managed to persuade them. A more detailed analysis shows, however, that this statement does not correspond to the reality. So, to a direct question “If you did not participate in the October 15 election, specify the reason?” only 2.9% said they “supported the boycott declared by the opposition parties” (compare: 9.2% said they “could not get to their polling centers because they were busy at home”). Only 14.7% of those who did not vote said the failure to fulfil the demands of the opposition and the OSCE affected their decision. That means that the bulk of the electorate who relinquished their rights to vote motivated the decision not by their solidarity with the opposition, but by other reasons, as disappointment with the parliamentary system (9.5% said “deputies are unlikely to stand up for my rights”, the same number trust to none of the candidates) or unbelief in any changes for the better.
De-facto non-recognition of the newly elected Lower Chamber by international structures is based not so much on the boycott declaration, as on evidence collected by “screened” candidates and independent observers (57.2% of those who took part in the election said there were observers at their voting stations) i.e. by representative of the political, civil and social opposition, who actively participated in the election process.
The comparative analysis of the groups that participated and did not participate in the October election reveals more information for consideration and development of further strategy (see Table 1).

Table 1. Comparison of respondents, who voted during the parliamentary elections, and those who did not*, %

Social, economical and political values
Respondents, who voted (58.8)
Respondents who did not vote (39.4)
All the blame for the deteriorating economy in Belarus is on:
– the president
– organized crime
Preferred type of economy:
– market economy with little interference from the government
– administrative economy
Most efficient form of ownership:
– state property
– private property
Would like to be employed by:
– a state company
– a private company
Satisfaction with the way, A. Lukashenko has been ruling the country for six years:
– rather satisfied
– partly satisfied, partly not
– rather not satisfied
Attitude to A. Lukashenko and his politics**:
– convinced supporters
– “vacillators” majority
– voiced opponents
Support of the OSCE recommendations:
– grant the opposition access to government media
– stop the oppression of people, who disagree with the current political course
– introduce changes to the Election Code, which would ensure free and fair elections
– amend the Parliament authority, so that its laws would be mandatory for all government agencies
Voting in a hypothetical referendum about the merger of Russia and Belarus:
– would support it
– would not support it
If the powers do not satisfy people, they should be replaced:
– by ordinary elections
– by a referendum concerning nonconfidence to the present power and early election
– large-scale non-violence actions (meetings, rallies etc.)
– massive strikes

* The table should be read vertically. The sum of answers in columns may be less than 100%, because other answers have not been included
** Staunch supporters of A. Lukashenko are the respondents, who are willing to vote for him in the presidential elections in Belarus and the Union state, trust him and say that he is an ideal politician. His firm opponents are people who gave contrary answers to all these questions

Obviously, among those who took part in the election there were more conservative minded people, whereas the other group are – mostly democratic minded Belarusians. At the same time, there are many democratic minded people in the first group, as well as conservative voters in the second group. So, many of those who did vote support the demands of the opposition and the OSCE (including the one about a free and fair election – almost 54%!). The distribution of staunch supporters and opponents of A. Lukashenko and his policy is especially revealing in this respect: almost 22% of those who cast their votes are his convinced adversaries, while about 8% of those who did not vote are his staunch adherers. The distribution, as we could see, is far from being “mirror-like.” The last section of the table is even more expressive: those who did no take part in the October election still prefer elections and referenda to mass protest actions!
After all, who won at the last election, and who lost? Could we say that the power lost? Probably no, because regardless of the boycott people went to polling stations (only 59% did, though Lukashenko promised 70%, and not 45% as the opposition declared). Could we say that the “strong opposition” lost? No, since the newly elected parliament is not recognized as a legitimate body; the Supreme Council is still considered legitimate. Hence, both the authorities and the political opposition have partially achieved the goals they had been striving for. The looser is part of the Belarusian society (including civil and social opposition), which is open for democratic changes, and which, at the same time, does not accept the solutions offered by the “strong opposition,” and remains out of politics. The political landscape of Belarus has few in common with the European one. People learn lessons not to correct the difficult past, but to avert its sequel in the future. The result of the presidential race which, in fact, has begun, would depend on those who first discern the reality and would act in accordance with this reality, rather than their visions of it.