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Explaining Intra-state Variation in Ethnic Group Mobilization. The Estonian State Restoration and the Political Mobilization of the "Russian-speakers" Category

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In this paper, I study the “Russian-speaking” population in Estonia, to explore how political mobilization takes place –or fails to- along what is usually referred to as “ethnic lines.” The main reason I chose Estonia as a case is that despite the vast literature produced in the past ten years on the potential for conflict in the Baltics such a conflict never occurred. While most studies focus on the study of ethnic politics in places that conflict did occur, I hold that in order to address the problem of selection bias one needs to account for cases where ethnic mobilization was not successful. Scholars identify three main actors in the new post-Soviet Republics, the titular population (the nationalizing state), the homeland (Russia), and the Russian Diaspora communities (Brubaker 1996: 55-76). Most accounts recently written on the “Russian-speaking” populations, “Russophones,” the “new diasporas,” “the Russians Beyond Russia,” etc. (Brubaker 1992 & 1996; Berg 1999; Barrington 1995; Melvin 1995; Mandelbaum 2000) assume that this linguistically/ethnically defined group in the post-soviet republics shares the same preference structure on relevant political dimensions (requirements for citizenship, relations with the Russian Federation, educational policies, and so forth) and thus should act collectively as a group to assert its demands. Using electoral and census data I study local elections in Estonia, trying to explain variation in the vote for the ethnic Russian parties across localities (the unit of analysis is the city). I find that in Estonia, the “Russian-speaking” population is electorally more fragmented than what most theories of nationalism and ethnic politics would predict. For instance, the “Russian-speakers” in Tallinn voted as a bloc for the Russian Party in the 1996 local elections, but they supported the less radical Russian Party (Estonian United Peoples Party) and the pro-Estonian Estonian Democratic Workers Party in Narva. Moreover, most of the hypotheses that have been proposed in the literature take the “ethnic” character of the conflict as a given and reason backwards to explain the political phenomena that occur. From a preliminary analysis of the data, hypotheses such as the center/periphery cleavage and the reactions of culturally distinct populations to nationalizing policies, the overlap of uneven development with a distinct marker that has been politicized, the spatial distribution of an ethnic group, and demographic balance, do not seem to explain the observed variation in Estonian politics. Instead, I argue that the distressing economic situation in the “homeland” in combination to the actions taken on the part of the nationalizing state led to the exclusion of unwanted Russians from the political arena, the successful incorporation and cooptation of Russian elites, and consequently to a successful fragmentation of the “ethnic Russian” category. Last, the timing of exogenous events (for instance the 1991 coup) has had its own impact on the process.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

ethnic (185), polit (164), russian (158), group (141), mobil (136), estonia (91), nation (83), estonian (72), popul (69), cleavag (69), parti (62), hypothesi (58), russian-speak (56), one (56), state (55), speaker (50), level (44), local (42), conflict (42), process (41), success (40),

Author's Keywords:

ethnic cleavages, political mobilization, Republic of Estonia, Russian-speakers, nationalism, state formation.
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Mylonas, Charalampos. "Explaining Intra-state Variation in Ethnic Group Mobilization. The Estonian State Restoration and the Political Mobilization of the "Russian-speakers" Category" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, Aug 27, 2003 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p64115_index.html>

APA Citation:

Mylonas, C. G. , 2003-08-27 "Explaining Intra-state Variation in Ethnic Group Mobilization. The Estonian State Restoration and the Political Mobilization of the "Russian-speakers" Category" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Philadelphia, PA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p64115_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In this paper, I study the “Russian-speaking” population in Estonia, to explore how political mobilization takes place –or fails to- along what is usually referred to as “ethnic lines.” The main reason I chose Estonia as a case is that despite the vast literature produced in the past ten years on the potential for conflict in the Baltics such a conflict never occurred. While most studies focus on the study of ethnic politics in places that conflict did occur, I hold that in order to address the problem of selection bias one needs to account for cases where ethnic mobilization was not successful. Scholars identify three main actors in the new post-Soviet Republics, the titular population (the nationalizing state), the homeland (Russia), and the Russian Diaspora communities (Brubaker 1996: 55-76). Most accounts recently written on the “Russian-speaking” populations, “Russophones,” the “new diasporas,” “the Russians Beyond Russia,” etc. (Brubaker 1992 & 1996; Berg 1999; Barrington 1995; Melvin 1995; Mandelbaum 2000) assume that this linguistically/ethnically defined group in the post-soviet republics shares the same preference structure on relevant political dimensions (requirements for citizenship, relations with the Russian Federation, educational policies, and so forth) and thus should act collectively as a group to assert its demands. Using electoral and census data I study local elections in Estonia, trying to explain variation in the vote for the ethnic Russian parties across localities (the unit of analysis is the city). I find that in Estonia, the “Russian-speaking” population is electorally more fragmented than what most theories of nationalism and ethnic politics would predict. For instance, the “Russian-speakers” in Tallinn voted as a bloc for the Russian Party in the 1996 local elections, but they supported the less radical Russian Party (Estonian United Peoples Party) and the pro-Estonian Estonian Democratic Workers Party in Narva. Moreover, most of the hypotheses that have been proposed in the literature take the “ethnic” character of the conflict as a given and reason backwards to explain the political phenomena that occur. From a preliminary analysis of the data, hypotheses such as the center/periphery cleavage and the reactions of culturally distinct populations to nationalizing policies, the overlap of uneven development with a distinct marker that has been politicized, the spatial distribution of an ethnic group, and demographic balance, do not seem to explain the observed variation in Estonian politics. Instead, I argue that the distressing economic situation in the “homeland” in combination to the actions taken on the part of the nationalizing state led to the exclusion of unwanted Russians from the political arena, the successful incorporation and cooptation of Russian elites, and consequently to a successful fragmentation of the “ethnic Russian” category. Last, the timing of exogenous events (for instance the 1991 coup) has had its own impact on the process.

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Explaining intra-state variation in ethnic group mobilization The Estonian State Restoration and the Political Mobilization of the "Russian-speakers" category Work in Progress: comments are welcome Abstract In this paper I study the “Russian-speaking” population in Estonia to explore how political mobilization takes place –or fails to- along what is usually referred to as “ethnic lines.” The main reason I chose Estonia as a case is that despite the vast literature produced in the past ten years on the potential
Graham & Wilson Andrew. 1997. Rethinking Russia’s Post-Soviet Diaspora: The Potential for Political Mobilization in Eastern Ukraine and North-east Estonia. Europe-Asia Studies Vol. 49 No. 5: 845- 864. Smith David. 2001. Estonia. Independence and European Integration. London and New York: Routledge. Steen Anton & Ruus Jüri. 2002. “Change of Regime – Continuity of Elites? The Case of Estonia.” East European Politics and Societies Vol. 16 No. 1: 223-248. Suny Ronald. 1993. The Revenge of the Past. Nationalism Revolution and


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