ZOiS Report 3/2021

Belarus at a crossroads: attitudes on social and political change

Students hold a poster reading 'This country is for living, not for violence during a protest' outside the Belarusian State Medical University. Minsk, Belarus, September 2020. IMAGO / Sergei Bobylev / ITAR TASS

Following months of mass antigovernment demonstrations in Belarus, the report widens the focus beyond the protesters and takes stock of the views and preferences of Belarusian citizens at a critical moment. A new ZOiS survey conducted in December 2020 among Belarusians aged between 16 and 64 reveals rare insights into the political and social mood across the country, trust in its institutions, the dynamics of the recent political mobilisation, and the domestic and foreign policy preferences of Belarusian citizens.

Given the repressive regime in Belarus, it is nearly impossible to gather reliable data on the public mood across the country. This report presents the results of one of the first large surveys of political and social views carried out since the start of the mass protests. In view of safety concerns, the survey was carried out online from 16 to 29 December 2020. Just over 2,000 Belarusians aged between 16 and 64 and living in cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants responded to the questionnaire. The respondents were chosen based on quotas for age, gender, and place of residence to achieve a representative sample for these socio-demographic characteristics. Telephone surveys, which may have allowed for the inclusion of the oldest members of society, are no longer safe to conduct under the circumstances. The quality of the response data would also have been in doubt. The online survey carried out for this report provides one of the first insights since the election into people’s attitudes towards ongoing social and political developments and their visions for the future. It was conducted as part of the externally funded project "Belarus at the Crossroads? Public Attitudes after the 2020 Election".