Bauska’s Chairmen: Party Leadership and Twitter Engagement in Estonian and Latvian Populist Far-Right Parties

Abstract

Political parties in the Baltic states remain largely understudied, especially when it comes to the populist radical right (PRR). Currently, two of the three Baltic countries have PRR parties represented in their national parliaments, Nacionā lā apvienī ba (the National Alliance, henceforth the NA) in Latvia and Eesti Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond (the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia, henceforth EKRE) in Estonia. Both parties have charismatic leaders and are led in a top-down manner, keeping in line with the literature on this party family. Many political actors in numerous countries make ample use of Twitter and other social media, and the PRR in particular has proved very successful at using social media to their advantage.

My article provides a comparison between the leadership of the two aforementioned parties, using a paired comparison method, highlighting the position of the party leader; how each leader is selected; the political activity of party leaders; the electoral activity of each leader; and, finally, an analysis of how each party leader uses the social media microblogging site, Twitter.

The NA and EKRE are similar in that they are both parties which can be categorized in the PRR party family and are nationalist parties in countries which experienced Soviet occupation as well as the policy of Russification. Further, until quite recently1, both have directed nativist policies around language issues and the Russian-speaking population (Auers and Kasekamp 2013, Wierenga 2017). Therefore, the NA and EKRE make for an ideal comparison.2

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Art, D. (2018) ‘Party Organization and the Radical Right.’ In J. Rydgren (Ed) The Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right, pp. 349–364 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

  • Auers, D. (2015) Comparative Government of the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 21st Century. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Auers, D. & Kasekamp, A. (2013) ‘Comparing Radical Right Populism in Estonia and Latvia,’ in: R. Wodak, M. KhosraviNik, & B. Mral, (Eds), Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse, pp. 235–248 (London: Bloomsbury).

  • Auers, D. & Kasekamp, A. (2015) ‘The impact of radical right parties in the Baltic States’ In: Minkenberg, M, (Ed), Transforming the Transformation? The East European Radical Right in the Political Process, pp. 137–153 (London/New York: Routledge).

  • Bauska Deklaratsioon. https://ekre.ee/bauska-deklaratsioon/

  • Bustikova, L. (2018) ‘The Radical Right in Eastern Europe’, In: J. Rydgren (Ed), The Oxford Handbook of the Radica Right, pp. 565–581 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

  • Bustikova, L. & Kitschelt, H. (2009) The radical right in post-Communist Europe: comparative perspectives on legacies and party competition. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 42 (4), 459–83.

  • Centrālā vēlēšanu komisija, https://sv2018.cvk.lv/pub/ElectionResults/Candidate-List?id=axC8x4iKXxa2gCU9m7iC2A%3D%3D&locationId=cWhUANL58dDrG-1BuYgatEA%3D%3D

  • Deutsche Welle. 2016. Estonia swears in a new government. Accessed 15 July, 2019. https://www.dw.com/en/estonia-swears-in-new-government/a-36498676

  • Di Gregorio, A. (2018) “Democratic Transition and Linguistic Minorities in Estonia and Latvia.” European Parliament Committee on Petitions. Accessed July 2019. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2018/604952/IPOL_IDA(2018)604952_EN.pdf

  • Eatwell, R. (2018) Charisma and the Radical Right, in: J. Rydgren (Ed), The Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right, chapter 13 (New York: Oxford University Press).

  • EKRE, Esimess. Mart Helme — Esimess. https://www.ekre.ee/esimees/

  • EKRE Põhikiri, 10.1. https://www.ekre.ee/pohikiri/

  • EKRE Põhikiri 10.2. https://www.ekre.ee/pohikiri/

  • EKRE Põhikiri 10.7 https://www.ekre.ee/pohikiri/

  • EKRE Põhikiri 12.3 https://www.ekre.ee/pohikiri/

  • ERR News. (2019) Ratas appoints Mart Helme first substitute in absence of prime minister. 02.05.2019. https://news.err.ee/935364/ratas-appoints-mart-helme-first-substitute-in-absence-of-prime-minister

  • Jacobs, K. & Niels Spierings. (2016) Social media, parties, and political inequalities. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Jacobs, K. & Spierings, N. (2018) A populist paradise? Examining populists’ Twitter adoption and use. Information, Communication & Society. 20(9): 1–16.

  • Jungherr, A. (2016) Twitter use in election campaigns: A systematic literature review. Journal of Information Technology & Politics. 13:1, 72–91.

  • Karl, P. (2017) Hungary’s radical right 2.0. Nationalities Papers. 45(3): 345–355.

  • Kasekamp, A., Madisson, M. & Wierenga, L. (2019). Discursive Opportunities for the Estonian Populist Radical Right in a Digital Society, Problems of Post-Communism, 1–12.

  • Klinger, U. & Svensson, J. (2015) The emergence of network media logic in political communication: A theoretical approach. New Media & Society. 17(8): 1241–1257.

  • Koopmans, J. & Muis, J. (2009) The rise of right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands: A discursive opportunity approach. European Journal of Political Research. 48(5): 642–644.

  • Kott, M. (2016) The Far Right in Latvia: Should We Be Worried? In: M. Fielitz and L. Lotte Laloire, (Eds), Trouble on the far right: Contemporary right-wing strategies and practices in Europe, pp. 179–187 T(ranscript: Political Science, Volume 39).

  • McDonnell, D. (2016) Populist Leaders and Coterie Charisma. Political Studies, 64(3): 719–733.

  • Meret, S. (2015) Charismatic female leadership and gender: Pia Kjærsgaard and the Danish People’s Party, Patterns of Prejudice, 49:1–2, 81–102.

  • Minkenberg, M. (2017) The Radical Right in Eastern Europe: Democracy Under Siege? New York: Palgrave.

  • Mudde, C. (2007) Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Mudde, C. (2016) Europe’s populist surge: A long time in the making. Foreign Affairs: 95, 25–30.

  • Muravska, T. (2015) Divided Latvia goes with the flow on refugee policies [Online]. Available at http://europesworld.org/2015/10/26/divided-latvia-goes-with-the-flow-on-refugee-policies/#.WFh1HBt97IU [accessed July 30, 2019].

  • Nacionālā apvienība Statūti, 3.1. https://www.nacionalaapvieniba.lv/par-mums/statuti/

  • Nacionālā apvienība Statūti, 3.3. https://www.nacionalaapvieniba.lv/par-mums/statuti/

  • Nacionālā apvienība Statūti, 4.4. https://www.nacionalaapvieniba.lv/par-mums/statuti/

  • Nacionālā apvienība Statūti, 6.9. https://www.nacionalaapvieniba.lv/par-mums/statuti/

  • Nacionālā apvienība Statūti, 7.1. https://www.nacionalaapvieniba.lv/par-mums/statuti/

  • Nacionālā apvienība Statūti, 7.3. https://www.nacionalaapvieniba.lv/par-mums/statuti/

  • Nacionālā apvienība Statūti, 7.6. https://www.nacionalaapvieniba.lv/par-mums/statuti/

  • Political Capital Institute. (2014) The Russian Connection: the spread of pro-Russian policies on the European far-right. [Online]. Available at: https://www.politicalcapital.hu/library.php?article_read=1&article_id=100.

  • Pytlas, B. (2016) Radical Right Parties in Central and Eastern Europe: Mainstream Party Competition and Electoral Fortune. London: Routledge.

  • Ragozin, L. (2015) Latvians find unity in rejecting refugees [Online]. Available at http://www.politico.eu/article/latvia-migration-asylum-crisis-baltics-eu/ [accessed July 30, 2019].

  • Riigikogu Valmised. Valitud Riigikogu liikmed. http://rk2015.vvk.ee/acquired-mandates.html

  • Rydgren, J. (2017) Radical right-wing parties in Europe: What’s populism got to do with it? Journal of Language and Politics. 16(4): 485–496.

  • Springe, I. & Jemberga, S. (2018) The secrets Mayor of Riga will not tell you. Online. Available at: https://en.rebaltica.lv/2018/03/the-secrets-mayor-of-riga-will-not-tell-you/ (accessed, August 7th, 2018).

  • The Economist. (2011) “Latvia’s indecisive election: Snap election falls flat”. The Economist. Online. Available at: https://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2011/09/latvias-indecisive-election (accessed August 10th, 2018).

  • Van Kessel, S. & Castelein, R. (2016) Shifting the blame. Populist politicians’ use of Twitter as a tool of opposition. Journal of Contemporary European Research. 12(2): 595–614.

  • Vergeer, M., Hermans, L. & Steven, S. (2013) Online social networks and microblogging in political campaigning: The exploration of a new campaign tool and a new campaign style, Party Politics, 19(3), pp. 477–501.

  • Vilhalemm, T., Juzefovics, J. & Leppik, M. (2019) Identity and Media-use Strategies of the Estonian and Latvian Russian-speaking Populations Amid Political Crisis. Europe-Asia Studies, 75, no. 1, 48–70.

  • Wierenga, L. (2017) Russians, Refugees, and Europeans: What Shapes the Discourse of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia? Humanities and Social Sciences Latvia, 25, no. 1.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Search