Ethnicity and Political Competition in Eastern Europe

Eastern European politics is largely seen as erratic, unstructured, and in flux. If any patterning can be found, most works expect it to be largely shaped by the experience of communism. This work argues that eastern European politics, despite their specific post-communist characteristics, follow a number of long-standing sociological and political regularities. They are in fact significantly shaped by state-building, ethnicity, and religion — all classical Lipset-Rokkanian divides well known to scholars of established democracies. Contrary to most received wisdom on eastern Europe, this work suggests that eastern European politics are deeply structured by factors separate from communism, and, contrary to most ethnic politics literature, it demonstrates that ethnicity has in some conditions induced the formation of liberal ideological positions in the region. Building on this sociological understanding of eastern European politics, this work explains the responses to ‘new’ politics of European integration and migration in eastern Europe.