Nationality-driven Soviet nostalgia: determinants of retrospective regime evaluation in the Baltic States

Issue: 
Autumn 2016

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.  

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Twentieth Century Communism Journal Issue 11: Memory and Nostalgia