The latest poll (like all previous polls) paid a lot of attention to political life in the country. Questionnaires traditionally included a query about the chances of different candidates during the presidential elections (see Table 1).

As the margin of error was three per cent, figures smaller than 3% are statistically unimportant (equal to zero). Nonetheless, the popularity ratings of opposition leaders indicates their plummet, however small they were before. The popularity of the opposition nose-dived even in Minsk, which is least sympathetic with the acting president. Only G. Karpenko can boast some success in his “league”, although only because his colleagues lost popularity.

Apparently, the increasing popularity of president Lukashenko and falling ratings of his opponents can be ascribed to the aftermath of the Russian crisis, which delivered a severe blow on the reputation of proponents of liberal reformation. It is widely known that A. Luakshenko was one of the most vehement opponents of Gaidar’s reform, while the Belarusian opposition, particularly its liberal wing, traditionally referred to Russia’s experience as a model which can be copied. Multiple examples of other countries, including some of Belarus’ neighbors, indicate that liberal economic reform can be successful. However, for most Belarusians Russia remains the basic example; if something is bad for Russia, it will be no good for Belarus.

Table 1. Distribution of opinions about celebrity politicians’ chances to win the presidential elections, %

Therefore, if the presidential elections are going to be held in the near future, their results will not be particularly reassuring for the Belarusian opposition. However, the respondents did not show singleness, when asked whether the presidential elections must be held next year. Only slightly more than one fifth of the population share the president’s firm stance, based on the results of the 1996 referendum. 31.5% think they should be content the situation is not worse. However, 35.9% of respondents said that the presidential mandate expires in 1999, and therefore elections must be held. Of them, 21% are going to vote for Luakshenko, but believe that the order should be kept to.

The aftermath of the Russian crisis also affected the popularity ratings of Russian politicians, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Distribution of answers about the possible president of Russia and Belarus, %

Most notably, these statistics reveal a catastrophic fall in B. Yeltsin’s rating. The public approach to politics in post-Soviet countries is based on attitudes to individual politicians. The electorate often sees relationships between countries as personal relations between their leaders, and estimate them by comparing the political weight of those leaders. Therefore, a fall in B. Yeltsin’s popularity is another reason why the rating of president Lukashenko is on an increase.

However, the popularity of the Russian communist leader G. Zyuganov and ex-vice-premier B. Nemtsov in Belarus also substantially dropped.

The electorate reveals much less interest in parliamentary elections. Only 13.9% of respondents said they must be conducted in the near future. Moreover, two thirds of respondents (65.8%) gave no answer to the question, about which party they would support.

We should note here, that respondents were not offered a multiple choice answer to this question. The results show, that most Belarusian electors see the political stage in this country as divided into three segments: communists (6.4%), democrats (8.9%) and the “president’s party” (7.2%). However, such division is arbitrary, because neither communists, nor democrats represent as a solid force, while the “president’s party” is altogether non-existent. However, the electorate sees just the general things on the political stage rather than detail.