(were interviewed 1.503 persons aged 18 and over, margin of error doesn’t exceed 0.03)

1. Financial well-being of Belarusians remains unstable in the fourth quarter:


  • Over 51% of interviewed consider that current year was more difficult for Belarus than the previous one (45.6% in December 2014). Only 5.8% of respondents think that current year was easier (9.9% in December 2014). The departing year was successful in general for 41.8% of Belarusians, while for 37.4% it wasn’t (the ratio was 47.6% vs. 32.6% a year ago). Like in September, 42.5% of respondents said that their financial standing had become worse, 45.9% of respondents didn’t notice any changes, and only 10.5% of respondents found that it had improved. Average income per family member (including salaries, pensions, social benefits and other incomes) for the previous month decreased from $ 200 in September down to $ 195 in December (a year ago it amounted to $ 285). Despite the fact that the number of those, who consider that Belarusian economy is in crisis, has decreased from 75.1% down to 66.9%, anxiety about the future has increased: only 16.5% of respondents expect an improvement of social and financial situation in the country in the next few years, while 36.4% of respondents expect an aggravation of the situation (the ration in September was 20.6% vs. 36.2%).

  • The number of market reform advocates in Belarus is now twice as big as the number of their opponents: almost 57% vs. 27.8%. You should notice, that over 35% of respondents think that “our society needs serious reforms (structural and system changes)”, 41.6% – “our society needs gradual reforms which would preserve current system”, and only 22.1% – “our society needs protection against forces which try to change current order”. Almost 45% of respondents disagreed with the recent A. Lukashenko’s statement that “in order to carry out reforms in Belarus, it is necessary to break the political system of the country, state structure of Belarus, divide and cut up the state property and give it away” (43% of respondents agreed with this). Moreover, according to 43.1% of Belarusians, it would be better if “the powers participate less in reforms” (41.1% of respondents share the opposite opinion). Answering the open question about the reforms that A. Lukashenko should carry out during the next 12 months, respondents chose modernization of economy above all (15.1%), pay rise (10.4%), improvement of medical services (10.3%). Political reforms were mentioned by 5.4% of respondents. Only 11.4% of respondents believe that modernization of economy, promised by President A. Lukashenko several years ago, was completed successfully. 46.6% of respondents believe that it was completed partially, and one third of respondents think that there was no modernization of economy at all. More than half of respondents are skeptical about the denomination of Belarusian ruble declared for June 1, 2016: a half of respondents think that it won’t change anything, and a quarter of respondents think that it will worsen the economic situation. Only 15.7% of respondents believe that it will improve the economy. According to 47% of respondents, it is fair that international financial organizations are ready to grant a credit to Belarus only upon condition of carrying out economic reforms; 36.8% disagree with this. At the same time, the readiness of society for the hardships, which inevitably come along with economic reforms, shouldn’t be overestimated: for example, only 20.3% of respondents agree that retirement age should be increased, while 73.1% disagree with this arguing that “a lot of people won’t live up to retirement at all”.


2. Belarusians attitude to the authority gradually becomes worse:


  • Comparatively to December 2014, indices of trust of almost all state institutions have decreased. During the inauguration ceremony President A. Lukashenko made a number of statements. Here are the shares of respondents who agreed with these statements: “a stable, viable state was created in Belarus” – 48.1%; “Belarusian people need to be led, need a guideline” – 45.2%; “each Belarusian is protected by law” – 37.9%; “people in Belarus have all avenues: favorable conditions for working, studying, discovering talents, educating real experts in their field” – 32%; “Belarusian public health service is the best in the world” – 20.2%. According to 60% of respondents, Belarusian citizens accomplish their obligations (obeying the law, paying taxes and so on) to the state to the full extent or for the most part, but only a third part of respondents gave the same answer regarding state’s obligations to the people. Over 50% of respondents believe that the state of things in our country is developing in the wrong direction, while only 36.7% believe that the direction is right. One of the few events of the departing year that provoked positive emotions in Belarusians was the presentation of Nobel Prize in Literature to Svetlana Alexievich: 57% of respondents see this as “a source of pride, international recognition of Alexievich’s talent”; less than 20% of respondents evaluated this as “an insignificant event, another international prize among many others”; only 10% of respondents believe that “this is an attempt of the West to harm Belarus and Russia”.

  • However, readiness for changes is still low. Thus, the ratio of those, for whom maintaining of current situation is more important, and those, for whom changing of current situation is more important, is almost the same as it was a year ago: 36.7% vs. 55.4% (for comparison: in December 2010 the ratio was 18% vs. 70.1%). The number of those, who believe that fundamental changes in domestic and foreign policy of Belarus are possible in the next 5 years, significantly dropped: in December 2014, 34.5% of respondents believed that these changes are possible, 45.9% thought that they were unlikely, and 13.8% – impossible; today these numbers are 27.5%, 51.6%, and 16.1% accordingly. It should be noted, that last year 51.9% of respondents were supporting such changes, while 17.7% were against them; today these numbers are 44.9% and 23.3%. However, while 45% of respondents think that fundamental changes in domestic and foreign policy of Belarus mean “a decrease of state’s role in social life and as an accordance of greater freedom of actions to its citizens”, 47.2% on the contrary think that it means “a strengthening of state’s role in society, a bigger support to the citizens”. In June 2011 16% of respondents were ready to participate in protest rallies and 13.6% – in strikes, today these figures amount to 13.4% and 2%.


3. Belarusians’ attitude to the state power and its opponents was reflected in the presidential campaign – the main political event of the year:


  • In total 70.2% of respondents voted during the elections in October (in September 72.5% of respondents expressed their readiness to vote), including 50% on the scheduled election day and 20% during the early voting. 4% of voters boycotted the elections on purpose, expressing their protest. Apparently, the idea of boycott was more profitable for the power than for the opposition: if the voters, who had boycotted the elections, would have voted, then the most part of their votes would have been for T. Korotkevich. The most important factor which influenced the vote were peace and stability (34.1%), overall quality of life (27%), and price hike (14.7%). 9.9% of respondents mentioned democracy and independence of Belarus answering this question. The choice of the candidate was mainly influenced by experience (32%) than by oppositional character (5.4%).

  • 35.6% of all respondents voted for the acting head of state; 15.7% of respondents voted for T. Korotkevich, candidate from the “People’s Referendum” campaign; 5.2% – for S. Gaydukevich, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party; and 1.9% – for N. Ulakhovich, the ataman of Belarusian Cossacks. Real shares of those who actually voted amount to 50.8%, 22.3%, 7.4% and 2.7% accordingly. If presidential election were held again tomorrow, 33.3% of respondents would vote for A. Lukashenko (according to the open question), and 9.9% of respondent would vote for T. Korotkevich. This means that electoral rating of the President dropped by 2.3% two months after the elections, while the rating of his main opponent dropped by 5.8%. This should be an alarm signal for those who are not satisfied with the present power: it is known from experience, that while the acting head of state manages to reach the necessary level of support by using state resources, the support of his opponents quickly “melts in the electoral space”. That is why T. Korotkevich’s team needs to find new extraordinary ways to maintain her rating. However, the President has something to think about too: current level of support is the lowest since the beginning of IISEPS’ monitoring (58% voted for him in December 2010, 63% – in March 2006, 57% in September 2001). Here are the shares of people who voted for the main opponents of A. Lukashenko: 9.7% for V. Neklyaev in December 2010, 18.3% for A. Milinkevich in 2006, over 25% for V. Goncharik in 2001. Trust rating of the President has dropped as well in comparison with September: 47% of respondents trusted him then and 37.1% didn’t trust him; today the ratio is 45.4% vs. 41.9%. Only 17.1% of respondents positively answer the question “Would you personally protect A. Lukashenko from some threat?”, while 63.5% give a negative answer.

  • Belarusians are rather reserved about the results of presidential election. Thus, only 35.6% said that the candidate they voted for was elected, 22.7% gave a negative answer (41.7% didn’t know how to answer). 28.2% of respondents believe that the candidate they voted for advocates their interests “to the full extent”, 30.3% – “partly”, “not at all” – 3.2% (38.2% didn’t know how to answer). 41.4% of Belarusians agreed that the presidential election on October 11 was free and just; while 33% disagreed (almost a quarter of respondents weren’t sure how to answer). According to 52.1% of respondents the results of the elections, declared by the Central Election Commission, are completely/rather valid; while 34.4% of respondents believe them to be rather/completely faked (13.5% of respondents didn’t answer the question).


4. Isolationist moods significantly increase in foreign-policy orientations of Belarusians:


  • Survey has registered a record low share of “Euro-Belarusians”: on a hypothetic referendum on joining the European Union 19.8% of respondents would vote “for” and 56.1% would vote “against” (in September the share was 27.5% vs. 51.9%). At the same time the share of “Belo-Russians” decreased as well: on a referendum about integration of Belarus and Russia 29.7% of respondents would vote “for” and 51.5% of respondents would vote “against” (in September it was 32.6% vs. 49.1%). In the answers to the “either… or”-question in September 52.7% of respondents were for integration with Russia and 26.4% for joining the EU, today the ratio is 53.5% vs. 25.1%. Besides the Ukrainian factor, which was mentioned in IISEPS analytics more than once, there are other factors that affect the decrease of pro-European orientations of Belarusians. Thus, answering the question whether Belarus should join the international struggle against the terrorism after the recent events in Paris, only 34.2% of respondents agreed that “Belarus should support international struggle against terrorists, because their actions are a threat to the whole civilized world, including Belarusians”, while 57.4% of respondents think that “Belarus should not participate in the international struggle with terrorists, otherwise terroristic acts will start happening in Belarus”. Evaluating the sharp crisis in the EU, caused by the stream of migrants from African and Asian countries, only 32.6% of respondents think that “these people should be accepted, because they flee wars and poverty and need help”, while 52.2% of respondents share the opinion that “refugees should be sent back and not allowed in, because they don’t belong to Europe”. The number of Belarusians currently working abroad significantly dropped: in September 2013 over a quarter of respondents confirmed that their family members worked abroad (most of them in Russia), today this answer was given by 16.3% of respondents. The most significant drop was observed for Russia and Ukraine. On the other hand, the decision of the EU to lift the visa sanctions against several hundreds of Belarusian government employees (including A. Lukashenko) was perceived positively by 37.5% of respondents, because “political prisoners in Belarus were set free, so the EU made a step forwards too”. At the same time 28.5 of respondents consider these measures insufficient, because “sanctions should be lifted completely and without any conditions” and 19.1% are negative towards this decision, because “Belarusian regime has not changed, so the sanctions shouldn’t have been lifted”.

  • The idea of the “Russian world”, which V. Putin used to justify the annexation of Crimea, is regarded positively by 32.3% of Belarusians, 44.8% are indifferent and 15.1% are negative about it. 65.7% of respondents evaluate the annexation of Crimea by Russia as “a restitution of Russian lands and reestablishment of historical justice”, while the share of those who think that it was “an imperialistic usurpation and occupation” amounts to 20.2% (in September the ratio was 57.4% vs. 26.5%). Military operation in Syria, started by Russia in the end of September, is considered as “struggle against terrorism that threatens the world” by 48.7% of respondents; 29.9% of respondents believe that “Russia is confronting the world domination of the West”, and 20.2% think that “once again Russia pokes her nose into other people’s business demonstrating imperial ambitions”. Interests of Russia and Belarus coincide completely (11.7% of respondents) or for the most part (52.4%); 22.7% of respondents think that interests of two countries don’t coincide for the most part, and 4.7% think that these interests are opposite. As we’ve underlined it more than once, besides such fundamental factors as proximity of historical and cultural experience, there is another factor which plays a significant role in these setups of Belarusians: almost 90% of respondents watch Russian news programs more or less regularly, and 58.3% of respondents believe that these programs are completely or mostly objective (mostly/completely biased – 27.7%). However, the idea of the “Russian World” can directly affect interests of Belarusians, especially the sphere of security, so its support is less evident: today only 27% of respondents are positive about the idea of a Russian military airbase in Belarus, while 33.9% of respondents are negative about it (31.2% are indifferent).