Syllabus: Comparative European Politics

This is part of our Campus Spotlight on the University of Glasgow/Nankai University Joint Graduate School.

 

Overview

The purpose of this course is to examine and compare the political processes, governing institutions and political economies of contemporary European societies. Through the in-depth study of country case studies, we will analyse how history has shaped the political and economic structures of these societies and the extent to which these structures determine contemporary political outcomes in both the advanced industrial democracies of the west and the transition countries of the east.

 

Aims and Intended Learning Outcomes

The course aims:

  • To introduce students to contemporary theories of comparative European politics with a focus on the advanced industrial democracies of the west and on the transition societies of the east
  • To identify the key debates about the future of European states and political societies
  • To evaluate how domestic culture, interests, and institutions influence political outcomes in European states
  • To examine critically debates about the extent to which these processes are eroding distinctive national governance styles
  • To apply broader theoretical approaches to country cases in the region as well as specific policy problems faced by European states

 

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • To identify the primary theories of comparative politics and apply them to European societies
  • To analyse political processes and outcomes in European countries and develop arguments to explain these processes and outcomes
  • To examine critically debates about how European integration affects European states and political outcomes

 

The course is taught by Dr Thomas Lundberg, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow and a member of the Glasgow-Nankai Joint Graduate School Teaching Faculty.

 

Core Reading

  • Bale, Tim (2017) European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. 4th Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Lijphart, Arend (2012) Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-six Countries, 2nd edn, New Haven: Yale University Press

 

Please note that suggested readings under each seminar topic are limited for purposes of this syllabus overview. Students taking this course will have access to a more comprehensive reading list.

 

Seminar 1
Europe: A Continent in the Making

Questions:

  • How has Europe changed over the years?
  • Are the Westminster and consensus models useful when comparing European democracies?

Required Reading

 

Seminar 2
Territorial Division of Power

Questions:

  • What is the most important reason for why countries divide power on a territorial basis?
  • Is there any way to resolve the paradox of federalism?

 

Class debate: ‘Decentralisation of power helps to reduce separatism in divided societies’ (refer to Erk and Anderson below).

Required Readings:

 

Seminar 3
The European Union

Questions:

  • What was the most important reason for establishing the European Economic Community?
  • What is the best way to understand what the European Union is today?.

Readings:

  • McCormick, John (2015) European Union Politics. 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5. This e-book may be useful as a general reference on the EU throughout this course.

 

Seminar 4
Governments and Parliaments

Questions:

  • How effective are parliaments in European countries in their efforts to exert some control over governments?
  • Do national parliaments in the EU’s member states have a significant role in the EU’s system of governance?

Required Readings:

  • Bale, Tim (2013) European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. 3rd Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 4.
  • Lijphart, Arend (2012) Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-six Countries, 2nd edn, New Haven: Yale University Press. Chapters 6 and 11.

 

Seminar 5
Parties and Party Systems

Questions:

  • How do parties develop and change?
  • How do party systems across Europe vary, and why? Readings:

Required Readings

  • Bale, Tim (2013) European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. 3rd Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 5.
  • Lijphart, Arend (2012) Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-six Countries, 2nd edn, New Haven: Yale University Press. Chapter 5.
  • Katz, Richard S. and Peter Mair (1995) ‘Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party’, Party Politics 1(1): 5-28.

 

Seminar 6
Electoral Systems

Questions:

  • How much do electoral systems affect the way politicians behave?
  • How much do electoral systems affect party systems?

Class debate: ‘Majoritarian electoral systems are better than forms of proportional representation for promoting stable government’ (refer to Bale and Lijphart below).

Required Readings:

  • Bale, Tim (2013) European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. 3rd Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 6.
  • Lijphart, Arend (2012) Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-six Countries, 2nd edn, New Haven: Yale University Press. Chapter 6.
  • Lundberg, Thomas Carl (2014) ‘Tensions Between Constituency and Regional Members of the Scottish Parliament Under Mixed-Member Proportional Representation: A Failure of the New Politics’, Parliamentary Affairs, 67(2): 351-370.

 

Seminar 7
Political Participation

Questions:

  • Why do governments hold referendums when there are potential dangers – like unexpected outcomes?
  • Why do voters sometimes vote in what appears to be irrational ways?

 

Class debate: ‘Britain is better off outside the European Union’ (refer to Geddes below).

Required Readings:

 

Seminar 8
Politics Over Markets

Questions:

  • Is social democracy actually doomed?
  • Is the EU more of a challenge to left-wing parties or right-wing parties?

Class debate: ‘Globalisation will destroy social democracy’ (refer to Bale and Pierson below).

Required Readings:

 

Seminar 9
Immigrants and Minorities

Questions:

  • How successful are government attempts to integrate immigrants likely to be?
  • How does the EU affect the immigration policies in EU member states?

Required Readings:

  • Bale, Tim (2013) European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. 3rd Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 10.
  • Dancygier, Rafaela M. and David D. Laitin (2014) ‘Immigration into Europe: Economic Discrimination, Violence, and Public Policy’, Annual Reviews of Political Science, 17: 43-64.

 

Seminar 10
Europe’s International Politics

Questions:

  • How difficult is it for the EU to develop a foreign policy?
  • What kind of role will the EU play in international relations?

Class debate: ‘The European Union will become a more important global actor in the near future’ (refer to Menon below).

Required Readings:

 

Photo: vector illustration of Europe city and communication lights map | Shutterstock
Published on June 5, 2018.

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