Oscillation amplitude of A. Lukashenko’s electoral rating may reach dozens percentage points, as longstanding IISEPS researches demonstrate it. Having monopolized the power, he made himself “responsible for everything”. That is why mood changes of the authoritarian part of Belarusian society (the so-called majority) directly influence the level of declarative support to the “only politician”.
Due to understandable reasons, opposition lacks opportunities to influence economic and social processes in Belarus. They’re off side. Oscillations of trust rating of opposition rarely exceed the limits of statistical error (Graph 1). Its absolute value is defined by the active part of “minority”; and the share of “minority” in Belarusian society remains constant over already two decades.
At the same time, transition between two groups of the split Belarusian society is quite complicated. That is why a fall of A. Lukashenko’s rating doesn’t lead to a significant growth of summary rating of his political opponents.
Unlike opposition’s trust rating, trust ratings of state and non-state mass media not only change in a wide range, but are even able to exchange their places on the scale of trust. In particular, in December 2012 and 2013 (i.e. after the man-made crisis of 2011) trust rating of non-state mass media exceeded its rival’s rating by 10 points.
Under the influence of Anomaly-2014 there was a certain castling. In December 2014 trust rating of non-state mass media remained almost unchanged relatively to December 2013, while trust rating of state mass media jumped by 15.5 points at a time. In March 2015 ratings became almost equal at the cost of trust decrease to state mass media, which could possibly be related to a certain drop of interest of Belarusian TV-viewers to the TV show “Ukraine”.
Structural solidity of Belarusian electorate is confirmed by the answers to the question of Graph 2 as well. As usually, year 2006 marks out by the level of support to the power, but already by the end of 2007 it had dropped by 10.5 points. During the following eight years the difference between maximal and minimal values amounted to only 4.5 points.
Survey, conducted in March 2015, registered a minimal quantity of respondents, which didn’t know how to answer the question. This is a sure sign of society polarization amid the smooth transformation of Anomaly-2014 into Anomaly-2015. Another sign of polarization is the drop of answers “I’ve never thought about it and I’m indifferent”. It is important to emphasize that almost all people, who previously had difficulties with the answer, joined the group of power’s opponents.
The level of protest activity dropped by 7.5 points relatively to March 2014 (we’re speaking here about declarative protest activity, naturally). Local peak of a year’s prescription was probably provoked by mass protests in Kiev, which were not yet discredited by Russian propaganda by the time (Graph 3).
Lack of relation between the state of economy and declarative protest activity (for almost 20 years many oppositional analytics spoke about this relation as if it went without saying) is confirmed by September survey of 2011. It fell on the year of historical minimums of social indices.
One of the most important issues, which blocks up normalization of relations between Minsk and the West is existence of political prisoners in Belarus. We are not going to comment on the official viewpoint of Belarusian power. It is well-known, but doesn’t enjoy support in society, despite propagandist efforts of state mass media (Table 1).
Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which of the following statements do you agree with?” depending on attitude to A. Lukashenko, %
Variant of answer
All respondents
Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Don’t trust
There are no political prisoners in Belarus, only people who were sentenced for crimes against Belarusian laws
There are people who were sentenced to prison for their political activity
Even among A. Lukashenko’s supporters every fourth respondent agrees that there are people who were sentenced for their political activity in Belarus, while every fifth respondent didn’t know how to answer, i.e. expressed doubt in the official point of view.
Let us note a significant difference in men’s and women’s view on the problem of political prisoners. 24.2% of men share the official point of view. The share of women, agreeing with it, is 1.6 times as high – 38.5%. Such a significant gender difference in estimations isn’t registered very often in Belarus.
Apparently, there will be no return to the “fat” years, when incomes’ growth was expressed by two-digit numbers, neither in the next 2-3 years, nor in a medium-term prospect. But belief in unlimited possibilities of the paternalist state and its leader, which has formed during the last 15 years, cannot “disappear” after bumping into first failures. Several years should pass in order for society to realize that positive trend changed into a negative one. How it will influence the habitual structure of electorate is anybody’s guess today.