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Abstract

In this article, Lithuania's relations with Russia from 2004 to 2014 are examined. This analysis is not much of a challenge in itself: there have been no significant changes in the overall quality of the two countries' relations, no new issues of disagreement, and the countries' approaches to each other have also remained unchanged. This analysis is significant in a different way-relations with Russia motivate and induce Lithuania's entire foreign policy arena, from its strategies to the country's everyday debates. Understanding Lithuania's relations with Russia leads to insights regarding Lithuania's geopolitical thinking and how Lithuania represents itself. Therefore, in this article, the goal is to demonstrate that an analysis of Lithuanian-Russian relations since 2004 not only explains Lithuanian foreign policy, but also reveals an enduring and negative stability in bilateral relations notwithstanding constant turbulence and quarrels.

Abstract

The sharp rise in electoral volatility in the last two decades calls for a new explanation of Western European party systems. The established party system theory-Lipset and Rokkan’s “freezing hypothesis”- is not confirmed by today’s data. But what framework should replace Lipset and Rokkan’s? One option is to focus on values in postmodern society, as French sociologist Alain Touraine does, by emphasizing how individualism trumps social cohesion formed by social cleavages. The rational-choice approach, combined with a principal-agent model perspective, offers another lens for exploring electoral volatility in Western Europe. In this paper, gross and net volatility are analysed with both Touraine’s sociological approach and with a new principal-agent model of political election, underlying dynamics.

Abstract

When the Baltic States regained their independence in 1991, Denmark had been one of their very strongest supporters, at a time when many European countries looked at the Baltic aspirations with caution. It was one of the first examples of the new post-Cold War “activist” Danish foreign policy strategy. It was not, however, without difficulties. Thus, the article argues that the Danish Social Democratic centre-left and Conservative-Liberal centre-right disagreed on how to support the Balts in practice and at what price. The difference was rooted in a hawk-dove disagreement over détente and the Soviet Union. Government party colour, the article argues, is therefore likely to have been crucial for the Danish policy. Had the relatively hawkish centre-right government not been in power, it is very doubtful that we would have seen the kind of aggressive diplomatic support for Baltic independence as we saw from Denmark leading up to 1991.

Abstract

This article compares the actual patterns of agencification and depoliticisation in Lithuania and explains the extent to which the EU influenced these changes. Our research employs (descriptive and inferential) statistical analysis of data on the organisational changes of Lithuanian agencies and the political participation of their managers in the 1990-2012 period. The article found that the EU made a significant contribution to the establishment of new agencies but changes in the scope of politicisation can be explained by a combination of evolution in the political conditionality of EU membership and wholesale government changes. The differentiated impact of the EU on public administration changes was observed with the management of the Europeanised agencies becoming increasingly professional over time. Overall, the results of our research confirm the stronger and more enduring impact of specific acquis rules in the policy domain compared to the much weaker influence of the EU’s political conditionality.

Abstract

This paper argues that economic voting is not limited to first-order elections and also can be observed in local elections (usually considered as second-order). Though local governments do not have the power to shape the macro-economic policy of the state, they may have some instruments to influence the well-being of their regions. Moreover, voters may perceive them as accountable for the state of the economy in the region and punish or reward them in local elections on basis of the economic trends. Lithuania appears to be a quite interesting case in which to test these theoretical arguments. Party identification and cleavages are quite weak here: therefore economic voting can be expected to provide at least some explanation of voting (it should not be shadowed by other social factors). Six local municipal council elections were held in Lithuania since the transition to democracy: the first were held in 1995 and the last in 2011. While controlling for important political-contextual factors, this paper strives to compare the impact of economic voting at Lithuania’s municipal elections across time five separate time periods. Results of the empirical analysis reveal that Lithuanians are learning the economic vote with unemployment being more significant as a factor in explaining changes in votes for dominant parties in the municipal councils in the more recent period than in the first several elections. A referendum effect is also observed: parties that belong to the national government parties are punished more during economic downturns.

Abstract

In this article, we propose a new variable in the formation of individual attitudes towards governmental responsibilities to the unemployed – the perceived magnitude of unemployment. Our choice is based on the argument that people’s reactions are strongly influenced by subjective meanings ascribed to social realities. We apply a multilevel analysis approach and mainly use the European Social Survey (2008). Results show that the perceived magnitude of unemployment positively influences public attitudes towards governmental responsibilities to the unemployed, when corrected for a series of relevant individual and national characteristics. Moreover, of all tested measures of actual unemployment rates, only the long-term unemployment rate has a significant effect on attitudes towards governmental responsibilities to the unemployed. Interestingly, this effect is negative, which raises questions about how the social realities of unemployment translate into perceptions of unemployment.

Abstract

The aim of this article is to review the ideas presented by the Nordic scholars of the “Welfare State Model – Nordic Experiences and Perspectives in Lithuania” project and to discuss the applicability of these ideas to the Lithuanian context. During the program, held in Lithuania, in 2013–2014, Nordic scholars and their Lithuanian colleagues debated Nordic welfare model features such as active labour market policies, family policies, digital welfare innovations, the role of culture, and social trust. They also discussed contemporary challenges to Nordic success. The project intended to: promote the Nordic countries’ experiences of becoming welfare states, increase knowledge of the Nordic welfare model among Lithuanians, and initiate a debate on the potential for this model to function in Lithuania.