This talk will outline a new perspective on the political life of post-Soviet societies, by revisiting the rhetoric and electoral tactics of democratic movements in Ukraine and Belarus in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Based on a systematic analysis of vote tallies, the talk will provide insights into the geographical distribution of the democratic electorate and the degree of its consolidation over several elections and examine how the leaders of the democratic forces perceived their position as political minorities and how this awareness influenced their public rhetoric and collective action. Finally, the talk explains the territorial distribution of democratic coalitions in a broader context of class cleavages and cultural-geographic divisions. By doing so, the talk will rethink the relationship between the political practices of Eastern Europe and notions of the region’s “backwardness,” seeking to contribute to our understanding of the post-socialist transitional politics and emerging democracies more broadly.
Image: One of the leaders of the democratic minority in the Minsk City Council is speaking to the press, 1991. Courtesy of Vytoki.net.