European Values under Attack? Democracy, Disaffection and Minority Rights in the Baltic states

Field: Statsvetenskap
Project leader: Joakim Ekman
Starting year: 2013
Project type: Project

This project addresses the backlash against European values in a post-communist setting, i.e. the manifold instances of populist attacks on or challenges to tolerance, liberal democracy, European integration, respect for human rights and the protection of minority rights. The three Baltic states are singled out as perfect cases for testing the magnitude and potential risk of a such a backlash; each country being in itself divided into two major groups of people: a Baltic nationality and an ethnic minority (in Estonia and Latvia, Russian; and in Lithuania, both a sizeable Polish and Russian minority). In short, if we are interested in tolerance, societal integration and minority rights, the Baltic states stand out as a something of a natural laboratory for the social sciences. Here, the process of European integration is intertwined with the ongoing nation- and state-building projects.

In order to analyse popular attitudes towards national and European integration, the proposed project seeks support from the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies for a research project on public opinion in the Baltic states. More specifically, the idea is to follow up on a series of opinion surveys conducted in the three countries throughout the 1990s and in 2001 and 2004: the New Baltic Barometer (NBB) and the New Europe Barometer (NEB), administered by Richard Rose and associates at the Centre for the Study of Public Policy, University of Strathclyde. The proposed project will replicate and expand the NBB/NEB study in the three Baltic states in 2013–2014, i.e. a decade after the previous study, looking specifically at issues relating to tolerance, respect for minority rights and European integration.