Still winners and losers? Studying public opinion’s geopolitical preferences in the association agreement countries (Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine)

New article by Ángel Torres published at Post-Soviet Affairs

This paper assesses some of the factors that influence the public’s geopolitical preferences in the Association Agreement (AA) countries (Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine). Specifically, I test the winners and losers theory, according to which individuals with higher chances of success in a particular society (winners) tend to support EU membership more than those with lower chances (losers). In addition, I explore the influence of political engagement, future migration preferences, and political values on this support. Departing from the conception of geopolitical preferences in the AA countries as a dichotomy between supporters of the Eurasian Economic Union (Easternizers) and supporters of the European Union (Westernizers), I adopt a four-fold classification that also considers the individuals who support both (Balancers) and neither (Isolationists). Drawing on survey data from Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine (2015–2019), I find similar patterns of effects for the winners and losers variables across the three countries, with winners more likely to be Westernizers and losers more likely to be Easternizers or Isolationists. Moreover, politically engaged individuals tend to be Balancers and Westernizers, whereas disengaged individuals show support for the Isolationist option. Values are a significant predictor for Balancers and Westernizers, since preferring liberal values has a positive effect on being a Westernizer and negative on being a Balancer.