POL S 346
Modern government and politics of Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy.
Democracy is firmly established as the only form of government in the countries of Western Europe, yet it appears in very different institutional shapes and involves quite different forms of political representation, party politics and decision-making. This course will introduce you into the fascinating variety of government and politics in Western Europe (including a more in-depth analysis of the political systems of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium and Sweden), as well as into some of the most relevant concepts and analytical approaches of comparative politics. Apart from learning about the diversity of democracy in Europe, we will take a problem-oriented approach by asking what weaknesses and pathologies are observerable in the various political systems and how attempts of institutional reform were and are made to deal with these perceived flaws. We conclude the class by putting our analysis in the context of European integration and asking in how far membership in the EU has led to increased interdependence or even a gradual convergence of political systems in Europe.
Student learning goals
Knowledge about institutions, party systems and modes of decision-making within political systems in Western Europe
In-depth analysis of government and politics in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium and Sweden
Knowledge about concepts and analytical approaches of comparative political science
Knowledge about recent and ongoing debates about the institutional reform of political systems in selected European countries (s.a.)
Discussion of some of the observations of research dealing with the Europeanization of political systems in the context of their EU Membership
General method of instruction
- Lectures, including Q & A and discussion - Short presentation by students, covering news reports and selected parts of the readings - Group work, dealing with questions concerning theses and analytical approaches in the readings - Open discussion about key questions proposed by the readings and current events in Europe
Successful participation in the course requires:
- Good knowledge of basic terms, concepts and analytical approaches of political science - Some familiarity with actors, decisions and events of European politics - Interest in comparative approaches - Readiness to engage in analytical, problem-oriented thinking and discussion
Class assignments and grading
- Active and informed participation - In-class presentation - Written mid-term exam - Final term paper