It is known that the parliamentary elections are going to be held this autumn. However, many problems regarding the elections are still unresolved. For instance, it is still unclear, to what agency will elections be held, as well as what its mandate will be. The authorities continue negotiations with the opposition about access to mass media and the Election code. Nevertheless, we need to know now, whom would the Belarusian electorate support if elections were held today. Table 1 shows us that the rating of the Belarusian political parties is still very low.
Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question “If parliamentary elections in Belarus were held today, which party would you support?”, %

* In November 1999 the questionnaire featured one BPF, which was then united

This can be explained by lack of information about the activities of political parties, as well as by their negative image, which is continually roused by state-controlled media. However, as of now one third of respondents is ready to support political parties. Hereinafter, these people will be referred to in this text as “party voters”.
Although the conditions of parliamentary elections have not yet been set, Belarusian people show tremendous readiness to do their duty – more than 66% of voters are theoretically ready to go vote (Table 2). This figure is even higher among “party voters”. To put it bluntly, part of the population, which has clear political preferences, and which is the electoral basis for the opposition, show a high election potential and hope that the situation in the country will be changed by elections, a traditional method for democracies. Let us suggest, that these data can be used as a strong argument, which must not be ignored by party leaders, when they take a decision whether to take part in the elections or boycott them.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question “Are you going to vote in the autumn 2000 parliamentary elections?”, %

Of course, we may think that the readiness to take part in the voting does not mean anything itself, and once the party ratings are so low, political parties will end the election race under the slogan “Participation is more important than victory.” However, these misgivings are also refuted by the results of the survey, because those who are going to go to the elections are sure that the opposition will get around 20% of votes. “Party voters” said 27.8%, which is an even higher figure. At the same time, only 24.6% of respondents said they trust the Central Election Committee, and 33.3% said they did not.

If the opponents to the authorities achieve these results, this will be the best proof that they are neither “scum” nor “riff-raff”, and that they represent the interests of a substantial part of society. Therefore, if the opposition wants to win, it has no right to ignore the moods of its supporters.
Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly said that he will not allow voting for party lists in parliamentary elections, because in his opinion the opposition does not represent anyone. Let us have a look, what Belarusian people think about it (Table 3).

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question “What is your attitude to suggestions to elect part of Belarusian MP’s by voting for party lists?”, %

The Table 3 shows that 20% of respondents and almost 33% of politically active people support the introduction of elements of the proportional voting system. In a country, where all the might of official propaganda is aimed at maintaining the opposite view, this is a lot. The positive experience of Belarus’ neighbors, Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Lithuania, where a mixed system was successfully used during several elections also influenced the figure. Therefore, it would have more sense to begin discussing when and how to introduce the mixed system, rather than argue whether it is necessary to do this at all.