Opinion polls: stable pessimism and growing presidents popularity
On March 29th, Independent Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Studies published March opinion polls results in Belarus. 1513 Belarusians were interviewed, statistical error is not more than 3%.
President Lukashenko’s rating started growing slowly amid preserved dissatisfaction with the quality of life in the society. The prevailing attitudes towards the authorities’ main strategic project - economic modernization - remain pessimistic, and a high level of mistrust determines the population’s negative attitude to open political protests.
The polls recorded a slight drop in the economic well-being index of Belarusians in the Q1 2013, which could be explained by 8% drop in average salaries in early 2013 amid sharp 11% increase in wages in December 2012.
In particular, “economic pessimism” has increased: those who noted deterioration of their financial situation increased from 26.7% to 28.7%. Conversely, the “economic optimists’” share has decreased from 17.4% in December to 13.3% in March. Compared with 2010 (the last presidential election year), 36.7% of the respondents said their life quality had deteriorated, 48.4% saw no change, and 12.2% reported an improvement.
A similar pessimism is relevant regarding the President Lukashenko’s statement in late 2012 about Belarus’ economic modernization. One-third believes in effective use of modernization funds, 28.1% believe that these funds will be stolen. At the same time, only 35.4% believe in technological breakthrough in Belarus’ economy in the next 10 years, and over 40% doubt it.
However, against this negative background President Lukashenko managed to slightly improve his popularity. Firstly, the confidence rating has increased: share of those trusting the president has increased from 39.1% in December 2012 to 43.4% in March 2013, and the share of disloyal decreased from 49.1% to 43.2%. Secondly, Lukashenko’s electoral rating improved from 31.5% in December to 33.4% in March. Lukashenko’s average electoral rating between elections is around 40-42%.
Willingness of Belarusians to organize and participate in open protests against the state policy is still low. In particular, the level of mutual distrust in Belarus remains high - 70% believe they should be very cautious in relationships with other people. Prior to the 2010 presidential elections the proportion was 72.2%.
Mutual distrust’s high levels atomize the society and determine Belarusians’ negative attitude to the traditional “agents of change”: 60.9% do not trust the opposition parties against trusting 13.1%. Opposition leaders’ electoral ratings do not exceed 5.1% (Nyaklyaeu), 2.8% (Sannikov and Milinkevich). Finally, 75.9% of respondents say that they are not ready to increase their participation in politics.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.