Milosevic Voters

This 2004 paper is based on an original public opinion survey on nationalism in five East European countries and deals with the grassroots of ethnic conflict in postcommunist Europe, with a special focus on the Balkans. In other words, it is concerned with Milosevic’s voters (and others like them) rather than with the historical circumstances that have the potential to generate ethnic conflict, political environments that allow nationalist leaders to win votes, and political institutions that favor certain outcomes in specific conflict circumstances. Its main goal is to test the hypothesis that mass attitudes or behavior are the main causes of the Balkan ethnic conflict, or of any other ethnic conflict for that matter. Due to its positive association with political fatalism and distrust in politics a model of nationalism emerges from surveys as a substitute ideology, a form of distinctive political identity. Postcommunist nationalism is the ideology of non-ideologues, a form of political assertiveness of the less informed and more frustrated. But most of all, its essence is residual, as it draws on individuals high on communist attitudes such as authoritarianism, and nostalgia for the former regime. From a mass phenomenon in the nineties postcommunist nationalism is bound to see serious decline.

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