The effect of outward migration on election outcomes in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania after accession to the European Union



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Tartu Ülikool


Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of people have emigrated from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to work and live abroad in other European Union member states. Once outside of their countries these citizens - like the majority of emigrants around the world - stop taking part in home elections. This thesis examines what could have happened if these voters had stayed in their home countries and continued to vote. Would election outcomes have changed if these people had participated in them? I look specifically at one election from each country, all of which took place between 2014 and 2016, and their outcomes. My time frame for emigration from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania started in 2004 after all three countries joined the European Union, and ended the year of, or year before, the election I have chosen to study. Using an impact assessment and counterfact model, I calculated my results using data from each country’s national statistics office and the European Social Survey. My results show that election outcomes in Estonia and Lithuania would have remained broadly the same, but in Latvia the political party which received the highest vote share would have changed. In Estonia and Latvia, the centre-right parties would have been strengthened with these extra votes, in Lithuania centre-left parties would gained more support than they did in the real election. This thesis adds to the narrow genre of literature that already exists and looks at the impact of emigration on politics and elections in home countries. It is the first, to my knowledge, that looks specifically at election outcomes in the Baltic states or any of three countries.