Vello Pettai

Professional Preparation

B.A. 1989 Middlebury College Russian and Political Science (magna cum laude)
M.A. 1993 Columbia University Political Science
M.Phil. 1997 Columbia University Political Science
Ph.D. ABD Columbia University Political Science


2003-date Researcher, Department of Political Science, University of Tartu
2001-date Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Tartu
1997-2003 Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Tartu

Publications: directly related

Marcus Kreuzer and Vello Pettai, “Patterns of Political Instability: Affiliation Patters of Politicians and Voters in Post-Communist Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania”, Studies in Comparative International Development, vol. 38, no. 2 (Summer 2003), pp. 73-95.

Vello Pettai and Marcus Kreuzer, “Institutions and Party Development in the Baltic States”, in Paul G. Lewis, ed., Party Development and Democratic Change in Post-Communist Europe, London: Frank Cass, 2001, pp. 107-125.

Vello Pettai and Marcus Kreuzer, “Party Politics in the Baltic States: Social Bases and Institutional Context”, East European Politics and Societies, vol. 13, no. 1, (Spring 1999), pp. 150-191.

Vello Pettai, “The Baltic States: Straddling the Post-Communist Divide”, in Julie Smith and Elizabeth Teague, eds., Democracy in the New Europe: The Politics of Post-Communism, London: Greycoat Press, 1999, pp. 123-154.

“Estonia: Positive and Negative Engineering”, in Alex Pravda and Jan Zielonka, eds., Institutional Engineering in Eastern Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 111-138.

Publications: other significant

Vello Pettai and Jan Zielonka, eds., The Road to the European Union: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003.

Vello Pettai and Klara Hallik, “Understanding processes of ethnic control: segmentation, dependency and co-optation in post-communist Estonia”, Nations and Nationalism, vol. 8, no. 4 (October 2002), pp. 505-529.

“Estonia and Latvia: International Influences on Citizenship and Minority Integration”, in Alex Pravda and Jan Zielonka, eds., International Influences on Democratic Transition in Central and Eastern Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 257-280.

“Definitions and Discourse: Applying Kymlicka’s Models to Estonia and Latvia”, in Will Kymlicka and Magda Opalski, eds., Can Liberal Pluralism Be Exported? Western Political Theory and Ethnic Relations in Eastern Europe?, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

“The Games of Ethnopolitics in Latvia”, Post-Soviet Affairs, vol. 12, no. 1 (January-March 1996), pp. 40-50.

Synergistic Activities

Based on previous grants from the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation) as well as the Estonian Science Foundation, I have compiled a database of politicians and electoral candidates in the Baltic states for the period 1992-2003. The database includes information on over 12,000 electoral candidates, MPs, government ministers and party officials. Each entry includes relevant information and dates on a person’s party affiliation, electoral outcomes, parliamentary voting and legislative initiative. This database will serve as the main basis for synergetic research and comparison with other case studies in the project.

Based on this database, Marcus Kreuzer and I have developed a number of hypotheses about political behavior among politicians in post-communist countries. These have been published already in our joint publications (see above). By participating in this broader comparative project, we will be able to test our propositions on additional cases.

The contribution of the Baltic states to this project will be important not only for their status as ex-Soviet republics, but also because of their individual variety in terms of political and electoral systems. Whereas Lithuania has a semi-presidential system with a mixed PR-majoritarian electoral system, Estonia and Latvia have more traditional PR systems. In turn, Estonia and Latvia differ in that Latvia has a purely list-based voting system, while in Estonia voters vote for individual candidates. These variations will add further synergy to the range of comparative cases.

Participation in this project will help internationalize work already being done in the Department of Political Science at the University of Tartu concerning democratic consolidation. Namely, the Department is running a 5-year research program on political participation and alienation, which includes survey research and focus groups. The research proposed in this new project on politicians’ affiliation patterns and political behavior should go a long way toward explaining broader popular attitudes toward democracy.

Collaborators & Other Affiliations

Collaborators and Co-Editors

Klara Hallik, Institute for International and Social Studies, Tallinn

Marcus Kreuzer, Department of Political Science, Villanova University

Evald Mikkel, Department of Political Science, University of Tartu

Wim van Meurs, Center for Applied Policy, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München

Jan Zielonka, Robert Schumann Centre, European University Institute, Florence

Graduate and Postdoctoral Advisors

Jack Snyder, PhD Advisor, Columbia University

Alfred Stepan, PhD Advisor, Columbia University

Thesis advisor to:

Reesi Lepa, MA thesis advisee, University of Tartu, graduated 2003

Heli Reinberg-Rits, MA thesis co-advisee, University of Tartu, graduated 2002

Heiko Pääbo, MA thesis advisee, University of Tartu, expected completion 2004