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Nationality-driven Soviet Nostalgia: Determinants of Retrospective Regime Evaluation in the Baltic States

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Drawing on a unique and recent cross-national public opinion survey, the article examines the determinants of regime support and retrospective evaluation of the Soviet era in the Baltic states. The analytical framework encompasses three dimensions: political-ideological nostalgia, performance-driven nostalgia and nationality-driven nostalgia. The analysis demonstrates that nationality is the strongest single predictor for communist rating, but that also support for democratic principles has a clear impact on attitudes towards the Soviet past. Estonia and Latvia are marked by strong ethno-political divisions and the overall trends suggest that these divisions have become more entrenched over the last couple of decades. Meanwhile, the Soviet legacy has become a prominent instrument to restore a sense of community across generations of Russians and a more ideological and political Soviet nostalgia may have taken roots. This is a question of collective identity: to mark distance to the majority population and to justify the presence in the region The findings add to our understanding of political culture and system support in the contemporary Baltic states, as well to our knowledge of the salience of identity and memory in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2016

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  • Twentieth Century Communism provides an international forum for the latest research on the subject and an entry-point into key developments and debates not immediately accessible to English-language historians. Its main focus is on the period of the Russian revolution (1917-91) and on the activities of communist parties themselves but its remit also extends to the movement's antecedents and rivals, the responses to communism of political competitors and state systems, and to the cultural as well as political influence of communism.
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