Frozen Trends: Polling Prognosis for 2013
A stable public support for Alyaksandr Lukashenka and a peak of “economic crisis feeling” of Belarusian citizens are the most important findings of the latest public opinion poll provided by IISEPS (from December 2012).
Two years after his re-election Mr. Lukashenka has lost 20 points or even more (comparing IISEPS long-term polling data) and his public support has been stable at a level of 30%. This trend essentially makes him a minority leader. Such “President`s Peak” has been predicted by several previous BISS's Polling Memos. Yet, as the major polling prognosis for 2013, BISS suggests there is no sign Mr. Lukashenka would be in relevant danger to lose his secured one-third this year.
Despite Mr. Lukashenka`s 2012 communication effort and some measures (especially salary growth), the number of those who thought that the Belarusian economy is in crisis has raised to the highest ever. The 88% in December 2012 represents 10 points more than half a year ago (in June 2012 - 77%) and last month was even higher than at the end of the 2011 crisis year (81.5% in December 2011).
However, as a contrast to this strong “feeling of crisis” of the population, the number of those who said Belarus was on the wrong track was “only” 46% in December 2012. This is 10 points less than a year ago (in December 2011 it was 56%). Moreover, there are similar numbers in many European countries or in the U.S.
Two years after Lukashenka started his current term Belarusians are significantly more pessimistic. The number of those who said Belarus was on the right track in December 2012 represented 33.5% of respondents (compared to 55% in December 2010) and just 23% said the economic and social situation in Belarus will improve in the next years (compared to 30% in December 2010).
Despite the strong and wide-ranging public consensus on the economic crisis, there are frozen trends on every main issue such as economics, politics and geopolitical orientation. Although only one third of the population consider Mr. Lukashenka as the right leader for the country, the major part of the population still has not found any political, personal or programmatic alternative. Therefore BISS suggests that the year 2013 will be the year of frozen trends. The main question remains open: who or what would be able to unify the interests of the majority of Belarusians divided to those who are not in declared opposition to the regime (about 35% of the adult population) and those who are in strong and long-term opposition (about 20%). Nevertheless, the need seems clear, as evidenced by the growing trust in independent media, trade unions and research centers.
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