Analysis of dynamics of social indices convincingly testifies that Belarusians haven’t lost belief in tomorrow. Despite a catastrophic fall of financial standing index, expectation index hasn’t changed. But for already almost two decades life of ordinary people is moving in a track defined by Belarusian economic model. Thus, belief in future cannot be formed in isolation from belief in the model.

As it follows from Graph 1, evaluations of successes of economic model remain stable. December devaluation didn’t make a fundamental influence. Moreover, the share of pessimistic evaluations dropped by 7.1 points. At the same time only 8.4% of A. Lukashenko’s supporters didn’t notice the progress of Belarusian economy, while there were 5.8 times more skeptical people among their political opponents – 48.4%.

During a meeting with representatives of Belarusian and foreign mass media on January 29, 2015, A. Lukashenko had unexpectedly stated that he was ready to surprise his compatriots with “any model”, but he was obliged to restrain his reformatory ardor due to society’s inability to “digest” social innovations.

This unexpected turn of the head of state should probably be regarded as a pure improvisation. Over the last years there were no information leaks regarding developmental works on alternative models from either President’s Administration or the government. That is why respondents’ answers to the question of Table 1 should be regarded as an indicator of dissatisfaction of people with current state of things in economy and not as a need of an alternative (respondents have nothing to compare with). But majority of Belarusians vote for changing the model, and thus they denote the inadequacy of the head of state.

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “During a press-conference in January 2015 President A. Lukashenko had stated that Belarus was not ready for a drastic change of economy development model: “I’m ready to surprise you with any model. But are you ready to digest this model?” What is your answer to this question?”, %

Variant of answer All respondents Attitude to A. Lukashenko
Trust Don’t trust
Yes, I’m ready for a change of economy development model of Belarus 51.5 32.2 74.7
No, I’m not ready for a change of economy development model of Belarus 33.0 47.4 17.6
DA/NA 15.5 20.4 7.7

Almost the same ratio of answers (not in favor of the head of state) was registered in the answers to the following question: “President A. Lukashenko’ has recently stated: “We have everything. Belarusians never lived as well as they do now. If people want to live normally and feed their children, their family – they have everything for it; they just need to get going”. Do you agree with this statement?” Those who agree are a minority – 36.4%. The share of those who disagree amounted to 53.1%.

Gender input into the distribution of answers turned out to be quite unexpected. Women are much more prone to believe that in modern Belarus “people can live normally and feed their children” than men – 42.5% vs. 29%!

Women’s inclination to trust authoritarian politicians is a worldwide phenomenon. In Belarusian society fair sex doesn’t fall out of the mainstream. The Father said “We have everything”, and female respondents agreed.

One of main conditions of maintaining stability of Belarusian model (in this it is very similar to its Soviet predecessor) is maintaining the state of emergency. Let us remind you how M. Gorbachev’s policy of international relaxation was fatal for the authority of communistic party.

  1. Lukashenko constantly touches upon the topic of internal enemies (“the fifth column”). Interpretation of Ukrainian events by Russian TV-channels significantly increased the state of emergency. Unfortunately, the question on presence of enemies was not asked before March 2014, so we cannot define what the input of “Crimeaisours” into the answers of respondents in Graph 2 is.

Over the nine months that have passed since June 2014 the topic of “enemies” is still important for 60% of Belarusians. The priority is placed on internal enemies.

Under the conditions of low level of trust to market institutions, economic and politic concurrence in Belarusian society, the main demand to the state was and is paternalistic in its character. That is why the demand for increasing salaries and social benefits will never lose its topicality (Graph 3). A. Lukashenko’s supporters are leading here – 56.7%. But the demand for state favors is quite high even among his opponents – 39.9%.

Significant difference with the answers in November 1994 should not surprise you. Beginning of nineties is the period of hyper-inflation in Belarus, thus the increased demand for stopping price hike, even at the cost of temporary drop in production and rise in unemployment.

Belarusians’ readiness to change the model, registered in Table 1, is confirmed by the answers to the question “What’s more important for you today: maintaining of the current situation in the country or changing it?” (Graph 4). This is another indicator of dissatisfaction with the current state of things in economy, which is confirmed by the answers in the “fat” years of presidential elections (the first and the second columns), when the number of advocates of maintaining the current state of things exceeded the number of changes advocates.

In March 2015 only 9% of A  Lukashenko’s opponents and 55.5% of his supporters spoke in favor of maintaining the current state of things.

We’ve already noted several times that the topic of maintaining independence of the country is on the periphery of public opinion in Belarus. That is why the distribution of answers to the question of Table 6 shouldn’t surprise you. Except for 2006, the most “bumper-crop” year in the modern history of Belarus, the share of respondents, preferring economic position over independence is confidently maintaining itself around 60%. The war in Ukraine did not make any notable adjustments in comparison with the peaceful year of 2010.

You should pay attention to equality of opinions of supporters and opponents of A. Lukashenko. It is not improbable that state patriotism of the former coincided in this case with nationalism of the latter. But whatever the reason of this coincidence is, it should be recognized as unique in the split Belarusian society.

The answers to the question of Graph 6 let us evaluate reformatory potential of Belarusian society before and after December devaluation. Changes are not big although statistically significant. At first glance, they demonstrate an increase of reformatory potential. But don’t get carried away. Longstanding researches of the IISEPS demonstrate that majority of Belarusians see reforms as a reinforcement of paternalistic care from the state.

The main part of adherents of serious reforms is A. Lukashenko’s opponents, and it is not surprising – 67.4% vs. 15.6%. The head of state’s supporters declaratively support gradual changes – 56.8% vs. 26.2%. And they prevail among adversaries of changing current order – 24.1% vs. 4.3%!

Society accepts real reforms and is ready to tolerate their negative consequences only under the condition of an existential choice, when the question is formulated as “either… or” (“either life or death”). But today Belarusians don’t face such a choice. Hopes on paternalistic abilities of the state are still alive for the “majority”; and power never paid serious attention to demands of the “minority”.