In 1986, Laurence Whitehead argued that external actors generally contribute more to consolidating democratizing regimes than they do to initiating the transition process itself. 1 This statement implied that any democratizing country was likely to follow its own dynamic of exit from authoritarian rule (depending in part on the type of non-democratic regime), while during the subsequent stages of consolidation and integration with the rest of the democratic world, international factors could play a more determining role. Yet such a pattern of events, however, is complicated by the extent to which particular pathways from authoritarian rule during the first stage of transition may create dependent conditions for democratic consolidation and international influence during the second. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Whitehead noted that democratic transition in Central and Latin America often resulted in a surge of left-wing politics, which later proved difficult for international actors such as the United States to support. 2 During the 1990s wave of democratic transition in Eastern Europe, the main challenge for securing democratic consolidation through international influence was the widespread rise of nationalism and ethno-political tension.
This chapter will argue that the Baltic states, and in particular Estonia and Latvia, represent examples of this complicated sequence of endogenously derived transition and exogenously influenced