Andres Tennus


Research conducted at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies encompasses the main subfields of political science  (comparative politics, international relations, and political theory), as well as area studies (Baltic, Russian, East European, and EU politics) and, more recently, research on the usage and impact of information and communication technologies.

The main competencies and research directions of the Institute include:

The Institute is a member of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) 

Recent publications


Research groups in the institute

ECePS ERA Chair of e-governance and digital public services is a research team on e-governance, public e-services, and data-driven public innovation.

The Centre for Eurasian and Russian Studies (CEURUS) pools expertise on Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe.

Center of IT Impact Studies (CITIS) is dedicated to understanding and improving how public e-services impact the daily functioning of the state.

De Facto States Research Unit provides expertise about places that, legally speaking, “do not exist”.

Research Group on Self-Determination of Peoples studies the intellectual history of self-determination from the Enlightenment to the end of the Cold War.

V-Dem Regional Centre analyses democratization and democracy in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Ukraine Center (UC) attracts expertise, connects stakeholders and consolidates efforts to raise awareness and help the Ukrainian nation in building a secure, democratic and prosperous future.

Ongoing Research Projects

Our faculty carries out both individual as well as larger-scale institutional framework projects on a variety of fields stretching comparative politics, international relations and political theory. To learn more about the projects, click on the respective title. Clicking on the funder information redirects you to their website.

The project focuses on the developments in the domestic and foreign policy making and their mutual interaction in the Russian Federation. The project will identify relevant actors, procedures and factors in the different stages and levels of decision-making.

The research project focuses on the outlook of civil society institutions and practices in contemporary Russia. It will give both a general overview of the functioning of civil society in Russia, as well as conduct case studies into specific domains both in Russia as well as among the Russian diaspora abroad. The results will help understand the role of civil society in repressive regimes as well as the limits and opportunities of civic activism.

  • Timeframe: 2022-2022
  • Funding: Erste Foundation
  • Grant holder: Leonore Riitsalu

Providers of financial services and financial education, and policy-makers designing national strategies for financial education have been working for decades with the ultimate aim of increasing financial well-being. Yet there is ample evidence of individuals not taking sufficient action to secure their long-term financial well-being, and being in a financially vulnerable state in case of losing their income, even in middle- and higher income. This implies humans need more than financial information and access to services to take sufficient care of their financial well-being. The need for shifting the focus form financial education to financial well-being (or financial health) both in the financial sector and in policy has been recently emphasized by several institutions. They highlight the importance of measuring financial well-being in locally relevant module, engaging private and public sector in the behaviourally informed initiatives for increasing it, and note the need for research into ways of measuring and increasing it. While most of the research on financial well-being is focused on financial behaviour (e.g., borrowing, lending, mortgages, saving, pension, etc.) and financial tools (e.g. planners, credit ratings, different apps, etc.) then instead we should look into the needs and wants behind the behaviour. In order to increase financial well-being we need to see behind the instruments and institutions into the behaviour, needs, wants and desires of the people to design tools and new interventions for bettering financial well-being through new windows of opportunity. This can be achieved by applying design thinking and behavioural insights. We have proposed a 3-year research project to Erste Foundation where we first study the deeper meaning of financial well-being for individuals in seven countries, based on the findings develop and test a broader set of tools for increasing financial well-being, develop measures of financial well-being, and propose practical implications for financial institutions, policymakers, providers of financial education, and NGO-s for increasing financial well-being of individuals and societies. The international interdisciplinary research team includes experts of financial education, policy, behavioural insights, psychology, economics and design thinking. 

This project aims to cognise the impact of internet voting on open government in international comparative perspective. It is inspired by the assumption that the use of i-voting for e-consultations, e-referenda, and especially e-elections promotes direct, participatory, and representative democracy as well as more transparent, engaging, and accountable governance. To test this, the project puts forward the objectives to identify i-voting impact on voters, civil society organisations, authorities, open government as a system, and discover conditions affecting i-voting impact in these aspects. In contrast to the available studies that focus on a single country, a specific i-voting campaign, or a narrow aspect and miss the link to open government, this research endeavours to examine a more complete set of i-voting countries, campaigns, instruments, dimensions and associate i-voting with open government. Conceptually it views open government as collaborative public policy making by citizens and authorities. Methodologically it will be accomplished by: policy analysis of i-voting legislation and reports; content-analysis of public and civic websites; statistical analysis of i-voting results tables, log files and public opinion surveys; and qualitative comparative analysis of ivoting- and open government-related variables. The study will be carried out at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia – the pioneer institution researching e-government in the only country in the world that has implemented i-elections for all voters. Principally, the action foresees collaborating with the ERA Chair in E-governance and Digital Public Services research team, mastering advanced methods of statistical analysis, and using mixed methods to model and assess the impact of i-voting on open government venturing to circulate academic findings and practical recommendations for a more influential i-voting, empowered e-participation, and good e-governance.

This project studies polarization in people's feelings towards political parties - a concept referred to as "affective polarization". Interparty hostility has substantially increased over the last decades in many democracies across the world. Yet, this phenomenon has been thoroughly studied only in the United States, whereas we know very little about affective polarization in other countries. This project aims to address this gap in research by studying affective polarization in six Western and Central Eastern European countries. The first objective is to examine how much do feelings towards political parties cause prejudice and discriminatory attitudes towards the supporters of these parties on personal level. The second main goal is to establish what are the foundations of affective polarization in European party systems. The expected outcomes of the project will bring considerable clarity regarding this highly relevant and worrisome phenomenon in the European context.

Relations between Russia and the Baltic states, Estonia in particular, have been an important testing ground for constructivist approaches in the discipline of International Relations. It has been demonstrated that the patterns of conflict and occasional cooperation have been determined by the dynamics of national identity on both sides. While existing studies focus on the national identity discourses of elites, this project creates comprehensive interpretivist datasets focusing on wider societal discourses. It is part of a global network ‘Making Identity Count’, whose scope so far includes only great powers. By adding Estonian data and expanding the already existing database on Russia, the project team re-assesses the bilateral relations based on a comparative analysis of the two countries’ identities through time. It identifies the circumstances under which popular views of national identity can impact foreign policy, which can be used in policy planning and risk assessment.

Self-determination of peoples is one of the key normative principles in contemporary politics. Yet its meaning and implications are notoriously difficult to pin down. The project rests on the thesis that uncovering the concept's historical origins will help to illuminate these uncertainties and the ways in which they are exploited in international politics. Experimenting with the approach of ‘serial contextualism’, the project seeks to offer a novel transnational intellectual history of self-determination from the Enlightenment to the end of the Cold War (including its links to related terms such as popular sovereignty, principle of nationality, self-government). The project’s main focus is on continental European political and international thought, while it also explores some of its global transformations. One of the hypotheses of the project is that there is a forgotten (but still usable) tradition of federalist thinking about self-determination originating in the Enlightenment.


How can we explain the spiral of worsening relations between Russia and the West since 2014? The WARU project posits that we cannot adequately explain Russian foreign policy and Russia's deteriorating relations with the West without understanding the specific conflict dynamics evolving between these two political entities. The project will explore this proposition through case studies of Russia's interactions with Norway, Estonia, Germany, NATO and the USA. It will provide an in-depth empirical study of how inimical rhetoric about the other party becomes seen as self-evident and unproblematic (through 'rhetorical commonplaces'), making it appear natural, even necessary, to treat the other party as a threat. By applying and developing securitization theory and other epistemologically related contributions, the project will also conceptualize how rhetorical interaction between political entities contributes to conflict escalation. The WARU research group consists of highly qualified scholars of Russian foreign policy, familiar with discourse analysis and quantitative, computer-assisted methods. The issue in focus has acute political relevance; the insights produced by WARU will be of high value for policymaking and for well-informed public debate on Russia.


  • Timeframe: 2019-2024
  • Funding: H2020 ERA Chair
  • Grant holders: Hector Pagan, Mihkel Solvak

The aim of the ECePS – the ERA Chair in e-Governance and Digital Public Services is to strengthen the Center of IT Impact Studies (CITIS), a research unit in the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu (UTARTU) so that it can act as a world leader in the field of research on e-governance, public e-services and data driven public innovation.


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Tartu konverents

Researchers from more than 30 countries across the world will gather in Tartu to discuss the past, present, and future of Eastern Europe and Eurasia

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Amit Jai Pal Julka

A-Moral Power? India's Public and State Discourse During the Ukraine War