Tõnis Saarts has a background in both political science and sociology. He has focused on comparative politics, political sociology, and historical sociology. More specifically, his research interests have concentrated primarily on political parties, party systems, social cleavages and the multiple challenges contemporary political parties have in modern democracies (the rise of populism, party system cartelization, etc.). He has also been interested in democratization in Central and Eastern Europe, where he has primarily focused on the Baltic States in a comparative perspective. His great passion has been historical sociology, in which he has studied the formation of modern democracy and statehood from a historical perspective. Saarts has also been active in the public sphere, in which he has written numerous media articles and provided media commentaries on the developments in Estonian politics for many well-known international media outlets.

Main tasks

Lectures on comparative politics, political sociology, political parties, research methods, academic writing, the Estonian politics and the Baltic politics

Supervising the BA and MA theses

The research topics supervised by Saarts: political parties, party systems, party organizations and intra-party democracy, regulations on political parties (public financing), electoral behavior, social cleavages, political ideologies and party manifestos, political culture and values, political participation, populism, political communication and discourses, political developments and democratization in Central and Eastern Europe and in the Baltic States


Areas of research

comparative politics

political sociology

political parties

historical sociology