Second Issue of the Polling Memorandum Series` June 2011 Polling Memo

Pessimistic society watches the regime losing monopoly albeit not dominancy

A wave of pessimism prevailed in Belarusian society in June 2011, according to the data from the public opinion poll provided by Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS). More than 3/5 of the respondents said things in Belarus were going in the wrong direction (the highest number since 2003).
Moreover, for the first time in ten years, more than a half of population (55%) thought that economic-social situation would be worsening in the next years (just 12% said it would be improving).

Alyaksandr Lukashenka, still the dominant political leader, is experiencing a dramatic loss of his approval rating: from 55% in December 2010 to 33% in June 2011. This happens for the first time since his tenure. The number of those respondents who declared themselves “in opposition to the regime” has increased from 19% in December 2010 to 26% in June 2011.

Even the year 2009, the worse one of global economic crisis, did not affect Belarusian society with such an intensive wave of pessimism than the last months or even weeks did. Yet, BISS suggests that it is not yet clear whether the low ratings of Lukashenka have reached their bottom, or the decline will continue. It is too early to say, whether the majority of Belarusian citizens would adapt to the new level of low expectations, or Belarusian regime is starting to face the real crisis of confidence, even loyalty of the majority.

The “social contract” between regime and society in Belarus seems to be in ruins. This, of course, does not mean that the era is necessary over as of today. BISS assumes that the regime would have a possibility to re-gain public trust, if it would embark to work
on the economic issues, i.e. would be able to finance its model. . However, as there is no bail out, the political leadership clearly focuses on the security/political issues and is searching for the enemies to blame. The longer it continues, shorter is likely to be the number of those keeping their trust in the regime.

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