The Baltic Region

2020 Vol. 12 №1

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



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.