The Baltic Region

2020 Vol. 12 № 1

Political Regional Studies

Estonia’s party system today: electoral turbulence and changes in ethno-regional patterns

Abstract

A well-developed party system has emerged in Estonia over the decades of independence. There are, however, distinct geographical patterns of voting. A number of new political parties have appeared in the country; the regional and ethnic patterns of voting (the latter matter much in Estonia) have changed dramatically. This study aims to analyse the recent changes in the Estonian party system as well as the causes of these changes and the effect of the ethnic and geographical factors on the transformation of the electoral behaviour of Estonian citizens. The research employs a systemic approach that makes it possible to solve the agent—structure problem to the benefit of the general structure and integral system of Estonia’s party scene. The method of comparative systemic analysis is used alongside those adopted in electoral geography. It is concluded that the effect of the ethnic and geographical factors on electoral behaviour is diminishing as a civil society based on civic rather than ethnic principles is emerging in the country. The main drivers of the change are the formation of new parties and coalition-building — both have an immediate effect on how the image of the parties is perceived by voters.

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Party system nationalization in Estonia

Abstract

This article explores the Estonian ‘integration’ project, which was launched in the early 1990s to bridge the differences between ethnic Estonians and ethnic Russians by assimilating the latter with the former. Since the project will soon turn thirty, it is timely to ask whether it has been a success. This article employs Grigorii Golosov’s index of political party nationalization to understand whether the ‘integration’ project has helped to narrow the ideological divide between ethnic Estonians and ethnic Russians. In other words, the study asks whether ethnic Estonians and ethnic Russians vote for the same political parties in comparable proportions or there are ‘Estonian’ and ‘Russian’ parties in the country. The analysis of the outcomes of four local and four parliamentary elections that took place in Estonia in 2005—2019 shows that by the mid-2000s Estonia achieved a considerable level of political party system nationalization at both national and local levels. At the national level, political party system nationalization remained high in 2007—2019 despite significant changes in the country’s political party system. At the local level, however, political party system nationalization has been diminishing since 2013, leading one to conclude that the Estonian ‘integration’ project has failed to close the ideological divide between ethnic Estonians and ethnic Russians.

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Local government reforms in Estonia: institutional context, intentions and outcomes

Abstract

The local government reforms of 1989 and 1993 were intended to establish a dual pattern of central-local relations in Estonia. The choice of this model was inspired and supported by the Nordic states. Although the legal framework for local government has remained untouched since 1993, the introduction of institutional mechanisms for strong local autonomy was not a success. The first part of this article seeks to identify the main factors that inhibited the launch of the new institutional model. These were a lack of strategic influence on national policy-making, poor cooperation from local authorities, and the diminishing role of county-level governments and their subsequent liquidation. The second part of the article analyses the objectives and results of the local government amalgamation reform of 2017 as well as the theoretical and practical possibilities to re-establish central-local balances in Estonia. The analysis draws on institutional theory, which explains the effect of deep value patterns and concrete political choices on the institutionalization logic followed after the 1993 reform. It is concluded that the local elites retaining their old value patterns will downplay the effect of the 2017 reform.

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Disinformation (fake news, propaganda) as a threat to resilience: approaches used in the EU and its member state Lithuania

Abstract

This study analyses EU and Lithuanian documents on countering disinformation/fake news to present the plurality of the Union’s approaches to ensuring resilience. Currently, there are three approaches to the problem in the EU. The first one, used by the European Commission, is the recognition of citizens’ right to information as well as of the need to promote critical thinking and information literacy. This approach fits into the adaptive paradigm of action in the information space and the concept of autopoietic resilience. The second approach, taken by the European External Action Service, is to expose fake news and the media spreading it. In combining adaptive and paternalistic paradigms of action in the information space, this approach employs a more static interpretation of resilience. Lithuania has adopted a third approach, which is dominated by the paternalistic paradigm and homeostatic resilience. This approach consists of the state isolating citizens from certain information. Thus, the popular use of the term ‘resilience’ in the EU disguises the plurality of approaches to both disinformation and resilience itself. Theoretically, this study draws on the concept of resilience and paradigms for countering disinformation/fake news. Methodologically, it relies on critical discourse analysis. The article suggests several possible causes of intra-EU differences in countering disinformation/fake news/propaganda and interpreting resilience

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The danish parliament as an actor of Denmark’s foreign policy towards the EU and Russia: a comparative analysis, 2005—2019

Abstract

The growing number of participants in foreign policy decision-making calls for a study of the forces affecting the behaviour of states in the international arena. In contemporary states, parliaments are increasingly challenging the exclusive prerogatives of executive power in foreign and defence policy. Many experts stress that the powers of the Danish Parliament in these fields are among the most considerable in the world. The question is, however, whether these powers are exercised in the same manner towards different states and regions. This article aims to find out how the Danish Parliament contributes to the country’s foreign policy towards the EU and Russia. The concentric circles model is employed to assess the level of the Danish Parliament’s participation in the foreign policy of the Kingdom of Denmark in different regions of the world. The study conducts a comparative analysis of the evidence of the Parliament’s influence on Denmark’s relations with the EU, the EFTA, and Russia. The findings lead one to conclude that the Danish Parliament’s participation in the country’s foreign policy towards EU bodies is highly institutionalised and coherent, which can be explained by close integration of Danish political elites into European ones as well as by European processes being clear and predictable for Danish parliamentarians. The participation of the Parliament in Danish—Russian relations is less systematic and structured since the Danish Parliament sometimes lacks diplomatic experience and resources to influence more complex and ambiguous relations with the Russian Federation.

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Social geography and regional sociology

Socio-spatial differentiation in transition: a preliminary comparative analysis of post-soviet St Petersburg and Riga

Abstract

Research into the socio-spatial dynamics in Central-Eastern European cities is an im-portant area of contemporary transition studies. Open issues in this domain range from defining a theoretical framework to data availability and methodological approaches. As to the former aspect, recent literature focuses on the hybrid nature of the post-socialist urban space, which underwent transformation in the conditions of globalization and eco-nomic liberalization; the earlier model of spatial development changed dramatically as a result. The multi-scalar and comparative approaches may shed new light on the complex patterns of urban socio-spatial differentiation and its post-Soviet dynamics. Growing regional socio-economic imbalances observed in the former socialist states are lending new urgency to this area of research. This study employs a comparative approach to investigate post-1991 socio-spatial trans-formations in St Petersburg and Riga — the two largest post-Soviet urban centres in the Baltic Sea region. An important result of the research is a methodology for multi-lev-a el analysis of changes in the urban environment of post-socialist cities. Data from post-1991 national censuses and population registers are used to calculate measures of social well-being in urban districts as well as to identify territorial imbalances. Compar-ative analysis makes it possible to trace the spatial patterns of post-Soviet differentiation and set out guidelines for further research in the area.

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Migration of researchers in the Baltic region: a forecast and factors

Abstract

The importance of this research relates to the need for increasing the human capital of Russian science and for assisting the spatial development of the country, particularly, its border areas. This study tests several hypotheses. The first one holds that the outflow of researchers will reduce over the next few years. Others concern factors affecting the number of researchers in the Russian Federation in general and its Baltic part in particular. These factors include salaries and workplace environment. Methodologically, the study draws on Russian and international sources on the migration of researchers and builds models of two types to trace connections and to produce forecasts, while calculating the emigration rate. The models of the first type describe how the amount of salary and workplace conditions affect the number of researchers. These are vector autoregression models built in the R software environment, using statistical time series. The models of the second type use Excel forecast function to carry out prospective evaluations of the number of researchers and migration rates. The study did not confirm the hypothesis that the reduction in the number of researchers was slowing down in Russia and St Petersburg in particular. Thus, the state measures aimed to preserve the human capital of national science will be insufficient to prevent either a decline in the number of researchers or their emigration in the near future. The article provides concrete recommendations for reforming the system of remuneration in research to reverse the negative trend.

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Spatio-temporal patterns of knowledge transfer in the borderland

Abstract

A key competitive advantage of a contemporary economy, knowledge, is distributed unevenly, tending to concentrate in cities and urban agglomerations. A border position translates into distinctive features of regional innovative development. In a favourable institutional context, proximity to a border strengthens transboundary cooperation and interaction between neighbouring regions. Although frequent social contacts across borders are well documented in the literature, the effect that the border has on intensive knowledge transfer is yet to be investigated. This article analyses models of knowledge integration taking place between Russia’s northwestern regions and the countries that their border. The study covers six territories of the Northwestern federal district (the Republic of Karelia, St Petersburg, and the Kaliningrad, Leningrad, Murmansk, and Pskov regions); five regions of the Central federal district (Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Kursk, and Smolensk); and one region of the Southern federal district (Rostov). The methodology of the study consists of using information from the Scopus abstract and citation database to assess the intensity of research cooperation. The findings suggest that the degree of involvement in transboundary research cooperation varies widely across Russia’s border regions.

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Economic geography and regional economics

An economic complexity analysis of the Kaliningrad region: identifying sectoral priorities in the emerging value creation paradigm

Abstract

The ongoing technological development leads to the emergence of a new value-creation paradigm that calls for changes and structural transformations in economic systems at different levels. Structural transformations are prompted by growing economic complexity. In this context, the selection of industrial strategies and the validation of key regional industrial policies is of paramount importance. Economic complexity (EC) analysis is a new effective tool to address the issue. Its application at a subnational level is, however, limited by methodological problems. To analyse economic complexity at a subnational level, a basic methodology and special software were developed within this study. The object of the research is the exclave Kaliningrad region, whose location makes it possible to capture accurate and comprehensive data on international and interregional trade. Based on the EC analysis theory and practice, the study involved the development of methods, algorithms, and software to form a source database and measure economic complexity. The findings may guide the use of EC analyses in regional policies. The article suggests activities for sequential upgrading of the industry in the Kaliningrad region. These activities will facilitate the development of the existing and new capabilities, improve the business environment, and increase the complexity of products, productions, and industries.

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Managerial competencies required: a comparative analysis of Moscow and the Kaliningrad region

Abstract

In a post-industrial society, social processes are dynamic, complex, and diverse. Social interaction management is turning into a competency in its own right. This competency is shaped by many factors, which are affected by the institutional setup as well as the individual features and localisation of the subject and object of management. Investigating and developing the managerial competencies that are necessary for the successful operation of society is a major trend in contemporary science. Studies in the area require an interdisciplinary approach. The aim of this research is to identify the managerial competencies that are crucial for the adequate and stable functioning of regional administration systems. An analysis of the components of managerial competencies and their factors is carried out to identify their status in the centre of an exclave region (Kaliningrad) and in Moscow. The study draws on the authors’ frame-based methodology (Rospatent No. 2012660535), which makes it possible to obtain objective empirical information on competency factors and their types. Sought-after competencies and their indicative structures were identified for each region. The findings are not only of theoretical importance but are well adapted for practical purposes, particularly, for advanced training of managers and teaching related university disciplines.

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