EU Accession Opposition in Estonia
During the period preceding the EU accession referendum in September 2003, those who opposed Estonia’s EU membership referred to themselves as “accession opponents” or “independents” instead of “Eurosceptics.”
Estonian accession opponents can be viewed as a social movement because, having been active for several years (formally since 1996), they have developed a strong identity and their goal was/is to contribute to greater democracy in Estonia. Movement activists preferred a decentralized structure, but formed social movement organizations to channel resources. They were operating in a “social injustice” master frame, focusing on three primary issues: independence, material welfare and religion. However, those three acted as “floating signifiers” and were not understood uniformly throughout the movement. Anti-accessionists experienced their limited opportunities to publish their ideas in the media as their strongest obstacle to success. Although accession opponents were often seen as belonging among the “losers in the transition process” and a “second Estonia,” the current research calls this notion into question.