The Baltic Region

2011 Issue №4(10)

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The formation of the political elite in Lithuania at the turn of the 1980s—1990s: the role of “moral politicians”



This article considers the trend of structural changes in the political elite of the Republic of Lithuania in the post-Soviet period through analyzing the role of the so-called “moral politicians” — intellectuals, artists, and cultural figures, who played a decisive role in the period of the communist system disintegration and further development of the country's policy. The role of the political elite, which is understood according to R. Putnam and J. Higley's definition, is considered in the conditions of political instability and uncertainty typical of transformation processes. In this context, the role of key actors is interpreted on the basis of the methodological structure of the so-called Stanford model developed by G. Almond and P. Bourdieu's theory of capital. This article reconstructs the course of political changes in the Republic of Lithuania at the initial stage of its independence, in the framework of which the key role was played by «moral politicians», most of whom subsequently retired from politics. Focusing on the situation in Lithuania, this research sets out to show the continuous dependence of today's policies of the Baltic States on the key choices made by the authorities at the turn of 1980s—1990s. Today, Russian political science lacks concrete regional studies into the issues of changes of elites in the context of research on the processes of postcommunist transformations. This work addresses the scientific interpretation of the content of mechanisms of «new» political elite development in postcommunist societies under the influence of endogenous and exogenous factors in the course of transformation. The stabilisation of elite formation processes in Lithuania, the assessment of patterns and trends, the identification of power centres and the character of intra-elite interaction, and a profound understanding of the functioning of Lithuanian political system in general will allow Russia to formulate a more efficient policy towards the Baltic States, which would promptly respond to emerging challenges.


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