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Declining systemic trust in the political elite in the EU’s new member states: the divergence between east-central Europe and the baltic states

Abstract

In the last decade there has been a process of rolling-back Europeanization efforts in the EU’s new member states (NMS), a process intensified by the global crisis. This de-Europeanization and dedemocratization process in the NMS has become a significant part of a more general polycrisis in the EU. The backslide of democracy in the NMS as a topical issue has usually been analysed in terms of macro-politics, formal-legal state institutions, party systems, and macroeconomics. The most significant decline of democratization, however, is evident in the public’s decreasing participation in politics and in the eroding trust. This decline in systemic trust in political elites in the NMS has been largely neglected by analysts. Therefore, this paper concentrates on this relatively overlooked dimension of declining trust and social capital in the NMS. This analysis employs the concepts of governance, trust, and social capital to balance the usual formalistic top-down approach with a bottom-up approach that better illustrates the divergence between East-Central Europe and the Baltic states’ sub-regional development.

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Insights into intra-party decision-making in Latvia’s political parties

Abstract

This article examines the decision-making processes within political parties in Latvia. Two important variables have been chosen for analysis: 1) policy formulation (which actors are involved in the elaboration of election programs), and 2) candidate selection (how parties create their electoral lists). A survey of Saeima (Latvia’s parliamentary body) deputies indicates that party board members have the most say in deciding which individuals to include on electoral lists and which policies to pursue; financial supporters seem to have almost no impact on parties’ internal decision-making processes.

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Party positions on the European union in the Baltic states: do they compete? Do they mirror voters’ positions?

Abstract

This paper aims to determine Lithuania’s, Latvia’s, and Estonia’s parties’ positions on the European Union (EU) and to ascertain whether these party positions mirror their voters’ positions on the EU. Analysis suggests that parties in this region have rather varied positions on the EU, with the exception of hard-Eurosceptic views, which are absent in Baltic states’ party systems. This paper also indicates that parties in the Baltic states tend to mirror, with some exceptions, their voters positions on the EU. This suggests that there may be additional factors determining parties’ positions regarding the EU in the Baltics.

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The quantitative and qualitative analysis of public administration reforms in post-communist countries

Abstract

In this article we describe the adoption and execution of public administration reforms in Central and Eastern Europe between 2008 and 2013, as well as examine whether post-communist countries differ from other groups of European countries in terms of the substance of reforms and their implementation process. Instead of following popular Western administrative theoretical frames, we adopt the policy process approach. We focus on the role of policy actors during reform policymaking and implementation at the level of policy subsystems. More specifically, we employ the rational-comprehensive and garbage can perspectives to understand the reform processes in the post-communist region. Our research is based on the statistical analysis of survey data and two case studies of reforms initiated by the 2008-2012 Lithuanian government. The article concludes that countries in Central and Eastern Europe share some common characteristics: they focused on the issues of civil service and public or administrative services, their reform policy was often formulated on a top-down basis, and its execution often lacked adequate capacities. Despite a rational reform façade in these countries, the implementation of governance change appears to be quite erratic, as anticipated in the garbage can perspective. This can have negative consequences on the effectiveness of public policy, continuing to generate public distrust in post-communist state institutions.

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When states lose territory: Georgia‘s post-2008 adjustment

Abstract

In this article I analyse how Georgia, as a political entity, coped with the de facto loss of two of its territories: Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The process by which Georgia lost these territories started in early 1990 and reached its final phase in 2008 after the Georgian-Russian war. This article explores how Georgia adjusted to these losses without ever acknowledging its loss of the two territories, demonstrating a perfect example on how the normative territorial structure of an international system works. The analysis focuses on the crucial role of time in the process of the de facto territorial changes and examines how Georgia, in adapting to territorial losses and through its own actions, actually strengthened its separation from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

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Antidiplomacy in Russia’s policies regarding russian-speakers in the baltic states

Abstract

Though Russia is a classic realist power, Russia, as its recent actions in Ukraine reveal, frequently prefers hard power to powers of attraction. In addition to traditional economic pressure and military policy, Russia also employs antidiplomatic tools to influence the Baltic states. Though Russia officially proclaims itself a democratic state, it has been developing a broad spectrum of antidiplomatic methods to legitimise Russia’s interests in post-Soviet spaces inhabited by large numbers of Russian-speakers. The clearest example of these methods appears in Russia’s use of international and regional organizations’ conferences to express and articulate its interests in protecting Russian diasporas-a phenomenon that first appeared in the Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy as part of his efforts to construct a negative image of the Baltic states, affect the Baltic states’ domestic policies, and subtly discredit their governments. Russia is positioning itself as the protector of a Russian diaspora wounded by the Baltic states’ anti-Russian policies.

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Contemporary populism and the economic crisis in western Europe

Abstract

Given a threatening new wave of populism crossing Europe, this article examines the link between populism and crisis as a Gordian knot and explores the relationship between contemporary populism and the Great Recession in Western Europe by underscoring how the principal feature of this relationship is the perception of the European Union as a common enemy.

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Cybersecurity in central eastern Europe: from identifying risks to countering threats

Abstract

Today, ensuring security in cyberspace is a top priority of national security policy for most states. States’ approaches to cybersecurity can be divided into two categories: those that regard cybersecurity as a civilian task; and those that involve their militaries in creating or implementing cybersecurity policies. Those states that have incorporated cyberwarfare into their military planning and organization perceive cyberattacks as a threat to their national security, while states that charge their civilian agencies with domestic cybersecurity missions classify cyber intrusions as security risks for only particular sectors. Adopting the framework of securitization theory, this article theorizes both civil and military approaches to cybersecurity and threat perceptions and their sources. The theoretical framework is then applied to a study of the cybersecurity policies of Central European countries and the Baltic States.

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Increasing Eupopulism as a megatrend in east central Europe: from facade democracies to velvet dictatorships

Abstract

Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential election has launched a wave of discussions in the international media and political science literature on “authoritarian populism” and a “populist explosion.” Although this paper also reflects on this new wave of populism in the West, it concentrates on the connections between democracy’s decline and the so-called populist explosion in eastern central Europe (ECE) and closely investigates the Hungarian case within the context of ECE. This paper describes populism in ECE as a product of the transition from fading facade democracies to emerging velvet dictatorships. These velvet dictatorships rely on the soft power of media and communication rather on the hard power of state violence. Paradoxically, the ruling anti-elite populist parties have developed a system of populism from above, managed by the new politico-business elite. Populism (social and national) and Euroscepticism are the two most basic, and twin, terms used to describe these new (semi)authoritarian regimes. Populism and Euroscepticism are convertible; they are two sides of the same coin as they express the same divergence from the EU mainstream. Therefore, this paper introduces the term: Eupopulism.

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Populist discourse on political representation: a case study of anti-establishment organizations in Lithuania

Abstract

Today’s party democracy crisis coincides with an increasing influence of populist political actors. This article- prompted by notions of populist understandings of politics as expressions of the people’s will and of the populist idea of an antagonism between the people and the elite-explores whether populism and party democracies are compatible. Assertions, that populism contradicts party democracies, should rest on research of populist understandings of political representation. This case study, of the populist discourse of Lithuania’s anti-establishment organizations, fills this research gap in the literature on populism’s compatibility with party democracies. The qualitative analysis of this case study focuses on how political representation is perceived and presented. The study provides new insights for theoretical debate on the compatibility of populism and party democracy and also presents a nuanced picture of populist perceptions of political representation.

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