The behavior of political parties in transitional elections is a singularly important element in a successful democratic transition. In ethnically cleaved countries, the actions taken by political parties in transitional elections can have especially longstanding consequences for future political conflict. This article examines the impact of a particularly unique electoral experiment in Eastern Europe, the single transferable vote system (STV) in Estonia, on the nominating strategies of different types of political parties (the multi-ethnic Popular Front of Estonia—PFE; the non-ethnic Communist Party of Estonia—CPE; and the ethnically based Russian Party—OSTK) in the initial republic-wide legislative elections held on March 18, 1990. A basic analysis is conducted to test the effects of varying district magnitude (a characteristic of STV), ethnic composition of electoral districts, and the “gate-keeper” effect exerted by structured political parties on transitional party nomination strategies in the Estonian election of 1990. Contrary to existing literature on STV, varying district magnitude did not have a great effect on the nominating strategies of either large parties or ethnically particular ones. Moreover, little in the way of gate-keeper effect was exercised by the communist party on the ethnically particular nominating strategy of the Russian OSTK.

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