Politics and Societies in the European Countries
- To familiarize students with the political life of European countries
- To closely scrutinize concepts from comparative politics that are overrepresented in the European continent
- Able to conduct professional activities internationally
- Student is capable of posing research problems relevant to the study of political phenomena and political processes; setting particular research tasks; and putting together a research design
- Student is capable of choosing research methods appropriate for resolving the professional tasks
- Student is capable of retrieving, collecting, processing and analyzing information relevant for achieving goals in the professional field
- A brief political history of Europe, 1945-The first week of the course offers a brief introduction to the core tendencies in the post-World War political history of Europe. The most important critical junctures and macro-level processes will be discussed, so students will be able to analyze the various case studies in a broader, European context.
- Majoritarian democracies: Great Britain and FranceFollowing the general introduction, two influential, and somewhat atypical countries, Great Britain and France will be compared. In Britain’s case, the majoritarian character of the system, while in France the specific semi-presidential arrangement makes the country an outlier. Nevertheless, the political history of both countries represents a broader contrast across the continent: while the current British systems evolved through a centuries-long process, the political history of France is marked with frequent revolutions and regime changes.
- Fragmented parliamentarism: is there a ‘Mediterranean model’?Following the typologies of Gabriel Almond and Giovanni Sartori, the characteristics of polarized systems will be scrutinized, together with a broader discussion on the politics of Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain – countries which mostly democratized in the 1970s, leaving a right-wing autocracy behind.
- Consensus and cooperation I: consociationalism and its variants (Alpine and Benelux countries)The so-called ‘fragmented but stable’ societies of Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland will be addressed, once all of them considered a case of so-called consociational democracy (by today, only Belgium qualifies clearly). Besides investigating the political means of elite cooperation across social segments, particular attention will be given to further institutional devices – like federal arrangements, trade unions, etc. – contributing to these peculiar forms of parliamentarism.
- Consensus and cooperation II: moderate parliamentarism and minority cabinetsAddressing a different form of consensus politics, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) will be discussed, with a particular emphasis on their frequent practice of minority governments. Besides scrutinizing the notion of minority governments, the class discussions will focus on the factors contributing to this model’s emergence in the region.
- Democracy by design: GermanyIn this country study, Europe’s most populous and one of the European Union’s most influential country, Germany will be analyzed. The specific treatment is mostly due to the country’s peculiar political history in the 20th century: after losing two world wars, establishing one of the worst totalitarian regimes in history, and being divided after 1945, the country emerged as an exemplary democracy, and has gone through one of the largest reunifications in modern history. During the lecture and the seminar, the peculiarities of the post-World War constitution and institutional arrangements enabled the relative stability and development of the German Federal Republic.
- Patterns of democratic transitions in Central and Eastern EuropeThis lecture and seminar aim to provide an overview on the varieties of democratic transition following the fall of the Iron Curtain, stressing the differences in terms of initial conditions, the challenges in establishing statehood, ethnic diversity, and social stratification. Furthermore, the various post-transition pathways will also be addressed.
- Democratic backsliding and illiberalism: Hungary and Poland (+Bulgaria? Slovenia?)In this week of the course, the academically most puzzling post-transition pathway will be scrutinized, namely the phenomenon of democratic backsliding. While scholars embraced various approaches on the potential post-transition trajectories ranging from the so-called transition paradigm to economic explanations of democratic consolidation, the fact that the initially most advanced countries, Hungary and Poland have taken the sharpest reversal in the 2010s invited broad scholarly scrutiny. Beyond investigating these specific cases, a broader discussion will reflect on the notions of democratic consolidation and development, the weaknesses of emerging democracies, and the nature of the current populist Zeitgeist in Europe.
- The politics of conflict and reconciliation in post-war EuropeThough the period following 1945 was particularly peaceful in Europe – compared to the previous decades of the 20th century – still numerous intra-state have marked this period. These conflicts appeared in different regimes, with different intensity, which will allow a comparison between conflict in established democracies (e.g. Northern Ireland), autocracies (e.g. the Basque conflict in Franco’s Spain), or transition regimes (e.g. the Yugoslav wars). The lecture and the following discussions will allow a closer assessment on the overall role of political violence in contemporary European societies.
- The state of democracy in EuropeThe last week of the course is dedicated to the reflection on issues raised through the course, with a specific emphasis on how the various phenomena – such as social fragmentation or populism – impact the quality of democracy in Europe. Furthermore, the empirical question of how the quality of democracy in Europe will also be addressed, touching upon the issues of specific regions, the impact of the EU, and the differences between ‘Old Europe’ and ‘New Europe’.
- Position paper
- Group presentation
- Preparation for short test 1
- Preparation for short test 2
- In-class participation- Meaningful engagement with the mandatory readings demonstrated - Own critical approach to the reading and lecture materials elucidated - By bringing in concepts and empirical examples from other fields of study, the student demonstrates a complex understanding of the introduced concepts - Contribution to the class dynamics: by reflecting on earlier points and comments, students can again demonstrate a practical understanding of the discussed concepts, as well as their abilities to understand the dynamics of ongoing discussions. Conversely, redundant and self-serving comments will lower the participation grade. - In case someone finds participation in discussions challenging, there is also an opportunity to send questions and comments related to the mandatory readings before the respective class sessions.
- Group presentationContent-wise the same requirement apply as in the case of individual position papers. In the oral presentation, you are similarly encouraged to present an argument for the class, but in addition: - You can explicate your idea more thoroughly if your time allows so - You can provide more background information/empirics - You should prepare questions and discussion points In your presentation, please be attentive towards the following elements: - Your power point or handout should complement your presentation, but should not include its content 100% - Should not be overloaded with information - Visual tools should be preferred over text; when you use text, keywords should be preferred over sentences - Do not read out your presentation; it is boring for the audience and problematic for the instructor (as it implies worrisome questions about the even participation of everyone). Anyway, you should also communicate more simply in verbal communication which doesn’t really work if you stick to your pre-written text.
- Position paperThe position paper shall be a problem-based, argumentative text demonstrating the student’s capacity to identify academically relevant problems, finding avenues to tackle it, and communicating her/his arguments in a persuasive, transparent, and succinct manner. The position paper should also demonstrate the student’s firm understanding on the differences between epistemic and methodological traditions. The position paper’s extent shall not exceed 1,000 words, including foot/endnotes, excluding the bibliography. The review part of the essay shall not exceed 40% of the position paper. The deadline for sending a position paper linked to each specific topic is the beginning of the following seminar session. Essay structure: 1. Short and general formulation of answer, outline of structure 2. Review of relevant claims in the literature 3. Critical review of relevant positions. 4. Core of argument, supported by analytical and/or empirical claims. 5. Conclusion, summarizing the core points of the argument.
- Short test 130 minutes, on week 6. It will reflect on the students’ familiarity with the core readings and factual knowledge on the discussed countries
- Short test 230 minutes, on week 10. It will reflect on the students’ familiarity with the core readings and factual knowledge on the discussed countries
- Interim assessment (2 module)0.2 * Group presentation + 0.1 * In-class participation + 0.3 * Position paper + 0.2 * Short test 1 + 0.2 * Short test 2
- Comparative politics ed. by Daniele Caramani. (2011).
- Adam Fagan, & Petr Kopecký. (2018). The Routledge Handbook of East European Politics. Routledge.
- José M. Magone. (2015). Routledge Handbook of European Politics. Routledge.
- The Oxford handbook of comparative politics / ed. by Carles Boix . (2007). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.253058961