A newly-published study of recent parliamentary elections in the three Baltic states has concluded that populist campaigning strategies held little sway with voters.
The "Populism in the Baltic States" report, which was produced by the Tallinn University Institute of Political Science and Governance with financing from the Open Estonia Foundation, looked at parties' use of populist tactics in the Estonian and Latvian elections of 2011 and the Lithuanian election of 2008.
Authors of the report defined populism as “action/thought that puts people in the center of political life” which, they said, could also be thought of as politics responding to the elite/people rift.
The study found that in all the counties, "populism was mainly the strategy of 'newcomers' or 'faders,' but [met] with not very high success (in terms of being elected/popular support)." The report noted, however, that it populism was stronger and more effective in Lithuania, where "there are clear and successful national chauvinist parties that promote statist governing and presidential regimes."
Differences in how heavily Estonian parties relied on populist campaigning were small, the study found.
Criticism directed towards the opposition was mostly "condemning any changes as those might derail Estonia from its present (depicted as successful) course; the only 'existing system' widely criticized was in taxation policies."