From nationalism to educational divide? Party positions and voters’ profiles on welfare state issues in Estonia and Latvia in the 2010s
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School of Governance, Law and Society, Tallinn University, Estonia
Submission date: 2022-06-22
Acceptance date: 2022-07-10
Online publication date: 2022-10-10
Publication date: 2022-10-10
Corresponding author
Triin Lauri   

School of Governance, Law and Society, Tallinn University, Narva road 25, 10120, Tallinn, Estonia
Problemy Polityki Społecznej 2022;57(2):107-143
This paper studies electoral dynamics in Estonia and Latvia in 2011-2019 by juxtaposing political supply with political demand in the welfare state issue. The article aims to contribute to the theory of two-dimensional policy space, which has been widely studied in the context of mature welfare states. We show, using Estonia and Latvia as examples that this framework can be extended to explain electoral dynamics in contemporary post-communist Eastern Europe. Empirically we found that despite the temporary prominence of the distributional divide, the socio-cultural dimension has preserved its dominance in political supply and demand. While distinctive voters’ profiles are detectable in both countries, stable party constituencies are not formed behind those divisions and the strongest predictor that distinguishes voters, is the level of education. Thus, the strong legacy of the socio-cultural cleavage in combination with renewed saliency of immigration and EU integration issues still constrains Estonian and Latvian party politics.
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