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Constraining Elites: The Impact of Treaty Networks on Foreign Policy

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In democracies, elites should be responsive to public opinion. This is especially true in Eastern Europe, where politicians fear electoral sanctions in the process of reform (Roberts and Kim 2011). Public opinion in general in Eastern Europe has been overwhelmingly in favor of European integration (Caplanova et al. 2004). In Ukraine, public opinion was in favor of increased cooperation with the EU, while in Moldova, public opinion was in favor of increased cooperation with the Russian led Customs Union. Ukraine refused to sign an association agreement with the EU, while Moldova enthusiastically signed the same association agreement. Why should both Ukrainian and Moldovan political elites have chosen not to be responsive to public opinion in such an important decision? Using network analysis of bilateral treaties between Russia and Moldova and Russia and Ukraine, I predict the responsiveness of political elites to public opinion toward European integration. I argue that the denser a treaty network between a weaker state and the regional hegemon, the less likely political elites will be to cooperate and move toward European integration. Conversely, less dense treaty networks allow politicians more flexibility in following their own preferences. Further, I offer a prediction for other states in the FSUto seek further cooperation with the EU.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Troy University, mslobodchikoff@troy.edu

10.1163/18763324-04203004
/content/journals/10.1163/18763324-04203004
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2015-10-19
2017-11-24

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