Belarus Opposition Struggles to Gain from Lukashenka’s Losses
The decline in Belarusians' income led to the corresponding reduction of Lukashenka’s rating. However, the regime's opponents' popularity did not grow significantly.
The Independent Institute for Social, Economic, and Political Studies conducted a sociological survey in Belarus last month. According to the research findings, 73.4% of respondents noted that their economic conditions had deteriorated during the previous three months. 23.2% of respondents stated that the standard of their well-being hadn’t changed. Only 1.6% of repondents noted that their economic conditions had improved. The similar indicators totaled 16%, 57.7%, and 24.9% correspondingly in December 2010 and amounted to 26.9%, 54.8%, and 17.2% correspondingly in March 2011.
61.8% of respondents noted that generally the situation in Belarus developed in the wrong direction. 26.1% of respondents hailed the official policies at that. The indicators totaled 32.5% and 54.2% correspondingly in December 2010 and amounted to 40% and 45.3% correspondingly in March 2011.
The rating of confidence to Lukashenka decreased considerably (i.e., almost by 20 points) in comparison with December 2010. Thus, 53.8% of respondents stated they didn’t trust the President in June 2011. 35.7% of respondents noted they confided in Lukashenka. The similar indicators had amounted to 35.1% and 55% correspondingly in December 2010.
Lukashenka’s electoral rating has decreased by more than 20 points since recently. According to the Independent Institute for Social, Economic, and Political Studies, Lukashenka would be supported by 29.3% of voters, if the Presidential election took place in June 2011, to be compared to 53% of supporters in December 2010.
The majority of respondents (44.5%) put the whole blame for the foreign currency crisis on Lukashenka, 36.7% of respondents blame the government, and 27% condemn the global crisis.
The society responds to the statements about the main danger to the independence of Belarus, coming from Russia and the unfair policies of Russian authorities in relation to Belarus, delivered by Belarusian public officials. Thus, 47.8% of respondents noted they would vote against the unification of Belarus and Russia, if a corresponding referendum was conducted. 31.4% of eligible voters would back such a union at that. It should be underscored that the Belarusian people mainly regard the unification as an economic union. According to sociological surveys, no more than 5% of respondents only support the perspective of getting Belarus incorporated into the Russian Federation.
Surprisingly, the considerable decrease of Lukashenka’s popularity didn’t lead to the corresponding rise of his opponents’ rating points. Thus, 7.4% of respondents would vote for Andrei Sannikau, 5.4% of respondents would support Uladzimir Niaklayeu, and 11.2% of respondents would vote for other politicians at the would-be election in June 2011 to be compared to 3.2%, 6.9%, and 7.9% correspondingly in December 2010.
The opposition struggle to leave the democratic ghetto even under the present-day conditions of falling living standards. All in all, around 25% of voters support the oppositional politicians nowadays.
The opposition movement includes the politicians, who stand up for closer integration with Russia. Thus, Siarhei Kaliakin, the Head of “Spraviadlivy Sviet” (‘Fair World’) stated once that Belarus had to acknowledge independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and that Russia had a right to annex the Crimea, since he regarded the peninsula as the Russian territory.
The United Civil Party (UCP) representatives stand for the sales of Belarusian enterprises to Russian companies. Surpisingly, Uladzimir Niaklayeu articulated a similar motto during the Presidential election campaign: “We should sell everything to Russia that depends on Russia and that nobody else generally needs, apart from Russia.”
A range of other oppositional parties keep to the contrary position. Thus, the “Za Svabodu” movement stands up for integration of Belarus into the European Union. The Belarusian Popular Front Party supports integration of Belarus into the EU and NATO. Just like the Belarusian Christian Democracy, they treat the sales of enterprises to the Russian businesses as a danger to independence of Belarus.
The “Spraviadlivy Sviet” left-winged party representatives speak Russian and lay flowers to Lenin monument. The representatives of “Za svabodu” civil movement, PBNF, and Belarusian Christian Democracy speak Belarusian and condemn the totalitarian past…
An independent Belarusian journalist Mikola Buhay noted as follows: “The authoritarian strategy of Belarus development has collapsed”. Hovewer, the split opposition cannot propose an alternative development strategy for Belarus at that.
Andrei Liakhovich is a contributing author. He directs the Center for Political Education in Minsk.