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Without a Tinge of Red: The Fall and Rise of Estonian Greens

Sikk, A; Andersen, RH; (2009) Without a Tinge of Red: The Fall and Rise of Estonian Greens. Journal of Baltic Studies , 40 (3) 349 - 373. 10.1080/01629770903118740. Green open access

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Abstract

In the 2007 Estonian parliamentary election a new Green Party succeeded in winning 7.1% of the vote and returned six members to the 101-strong Riigikogu. The party had been registered just three months earlier, but its history goes back to the late 1980s, when the Green movement played an important role in Estonia regaining her independence. The ‘Phosphate War’ (sometimes called ‘the Phosphate Spring’) which the Green movement ‘fought’ against the Soviet authorities’ plans for large-scale phosphate mining in north-eastern Estonia has often been considered a crucial step on the path towards independence. The movement tested Gorbachev's commitment to glasnost’ and increased the limits of what was tolerable under the then regime. However, the Green movement lost its momentum after Estonia became independent and its offshoots soon vanished from the political scene. In this study we analyze the formative years of the new party with reference to its historical and ideological origins. Specifically, we seek to locate it within the broader picture of European Green politics. The Green parties in Western Europe have usually been linked to the rise of post-material values pertaining to the ‘New Left’. Based on the evidence available, we argue that the Estonian Green Party shares little more than a name and a heightened sensitivity to environmental issues with its West European namesakes. In the first section of the essay we propose three models of new party emergence by contrasting the classical cleavage-based scenario with alternatives that are all relevant to the development of the Estonian Greens. As mentioned above, the Green Party was not established from scratch and the second part of the study will sketch the historical background of environmental politics in Estonia relevant for understanding the contemporary party. The penultimate section profiles the party's voters and their motivations using survey and ecological data. The concluding section discusses the findings and argues that the Estonian Green Party differentiates itself from its Western namesakes with regard to its political goals, placement on the left–right continuum and many characteristics of its voters. We contend that rather than belonging to the realm of post-modernism, the Estonian Green Party might be better described as being ultra-modernist.

Type: Article
Title: Without a Tinge of Red: The Fall and Rise of Estonian Greens
Location: Fitzwilliam Coll Cambridge, Cambridge, ENGLAND
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/01629770903118740
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01629770903118740
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Baltic Studies on 18/08/2009, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/01629770903118740. This article appeared in the 'Special Issue: From Phosphate Springs to ‘Nordstream’: Contemporary Environmentalism in the Baltic States'.
Keywords: Green Party, Estonia, political parties, environmental politics, post-materialism, left and right
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/67204
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