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Siarhei Nikaliuk: No chances of getting out of the recession within the frames of the existing model

01.04.2016  |  Society   |  Aliaksei Jurych,  EuroBelarus
Siarhei Nikaliuk: No chances of getting out of the recession within the frames of the existing model

Although the mood of former or current Lukashenka’s supporters has deteriorated, the majority doesn’t yet understand the upcoming global changes.

Lukashenka’s rating has fallen most significantly over the last five years and makes 27.3% now. The number of those who distrust the main state institutions exceeds the number of those who trust them. Over 61% of respondents admit that they can barely make ends meet, they don’t have enough money even for food; devaluation expectations have significantly increased.

These are the main results of the March poll conducted by the Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS). The IISEPS expert Siarhei Nikaliuk comments upon the results of the poll in the interview with the “EuroBelarus” Information Service.

- What are the trends recorded in the March poll by IISEPS?

- The March poll has brought crucial news. The so-called "anomaly" that has been indicated by the sociologists for two years now, has finished. Superficially, the anomaly manifested itself in the fact that with the falling incomes of Belarusians their moods have significantly intensified. Given these improvements, both Lukashenka’s rating and general positive attitude towards the authorities have also increased. Accordingly, the political image of Russia in terms of geopolitical preferences has also improved. It was connected with the events that later were called for "Krymnash" (Russian “Crimea is ours” – EuroBelarus).

A survey at the end of March 2014 has indicated a dramatic change in social moods. This effect lasted for almost two years and was partially strengthened by the presidential elections, which were built in accordance with the new program. The government had nothing to promise the people, so it started intimidating it with enemies and war ... And for a certain period of time this tactic paid off.

Later, one of the global changes happened, which consists in the fact that the government has finally abandoned the old social contract. It can be characterized as an exchange of loyalty for the growth of incomes. This stage of development of the Belarusian model has ended.

Belarusan model has no internal resources for providing the economic growth. The external factor, which is, however, secondary, followed that. Throughout the last year the authorities have been working under the new contract: loyalty in exchange for survival. To some extent, it worked.

However, the life of the new contract was very short, so in March 2016 all the social indicators (the beginning of the year turned out to be very rough: the devaluation of the Belarusian rouble, the continued growth of inflation, and further fall of people’s incomes) have fallen down. A substantial fall of Lukashenka's rating started: today it has reached the bottom since 2011, when a collapse of the rouble took place.

Taken all that into account, some disappointments in Russia are but natural. Public opinion in Belarus can easily fluctuate, though it doesn’t mean that the change of values happened or that there appeared more European citizens in Belarus – this are just mood swings. Social indexes are mood swings, too; that’s why we can so often observe the panic effect - when they collapse, or, on the contrary, when they are on the rise – as with the "Krymnash".

- Why Belarusians are so exposed to mood swings?

- Some of the Belarusians (unfortunately, this part forms the majority), strange as it may seem, have somewhat imperial ideology. There is nothing strange in this fact – the basis of Belarusians, just as the basis of Russians, is formed by the so-called "Soviet man"; this man is still there and can be easily reproduced. The Nobel laureate Sviatlana Alexievich talks about the "red man", whose history in Belarus hasn’t finished yet.

It was not a mere indication of current moods that happened in March. This is the initial stage, a very important moment in the history of the Belarusian model: euphoria caused by "Krymnashem" is over, and, as we understand, there are no chances of getting out of the recession within the frames of the existing model. The situation is very similar to the last years of the Soviet model: it exhausted itself and wasn’t subject to reforms. This is the stage that we got in.

But judging by the survey, although the mood of former or current Lukashenka’s supporters has deteriorated, the majority doesn’t yet understand the upcoming global changes. The mood falls; but there is a belief that things can still go back to square one, so no real serious revaluation of certain basic things (for example, the belief in state ownership) happen.

- If the social contract "loyalty in exchange for survival" has expired, what do the authorities offer in return? Nature abhors a vacuum.

- For now the authorities offer mere demagogy. We've seen it happen with a prolongation of the retirement age. All the arguments that it is necessary to consult with the people can’t be serious if only because the current system has no mechanisms to consult with the people. The only mechanism is the legislative body, the representative body, which should represent the interests of the people. It is clear that the Belarusian parliament doesn’t present people’s interests. It's a mere simulator.

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