The Baltic Region

2013 Issue №4(18)

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The political elite recruitment in the Baltic: the role of the ethnic factor



The role of the ethnic factor in political processes in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia has been rather significant since these countries’ independence. The author investigates the assumption that after the completion of major Eurointegration procedures, the ethnic factor — which became especially important in the Baltics after independence — relegated to the periphery of political life. After a period of ‘independence-induced euphoria’ faded, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian power groups had to tackle the problem of civil society formation and the development of a political regime based on democratic procedures. In these countries the processes of elite recruitment were largely affected by the factor of ethic homogeneity of the social structure. This article analyses the process of elite group formation in the Baltics through the lens of the ethnic factor. By applying the ethnopolitical approach, the author concludes that the de facto barriers to non-titular population groups entering power structures, which exist in Latvia and Estonia, “freeze” the system of elite recruitment. In the conditions of increasing social unrest, it may have an adverse effect on the overall political stability in these countries. The results obtained can be used for research, educational, and practical purposes. In the field of research and education, they can be employed in further research on the transformation of the elite structure in the Baltics in view of the ethnopolitical factor, including comparative analysis of the elite re-grouping processes, as well as in developing corresponding university courses. As to the practical aspect, the results obtained can be used by the authorities of the Russian Federation in making decisions regarding interaction with the representatives of Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian political elites.


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