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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robert J. Pekkanen
POL S 447
Seattle Campus

Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics

Selected comparative political problems, political institutions, processes, and issues in comparative perspective. Strongly Recommended: POL S 204.

Class description

How you count determines who wins. The importance of electoral systems is as inescapable and pervasive as the drumbeat of the ongoing Presidential primary. This course offers a comparative analysis of electoral systems. Electoral rules are critically important in politics; these rules translate votes into seats and thus determine who wins elections--and different ways of counting lead to different political results. An obvious recent example is the 2000 US presidential election, where one candidate won a majority of the popular vote but lost the election because of the peculiar electoral system (the electoral college). Redistricting and gerrymandering are perennial topics in the US, too. But, outside of the United States, electoral systems vary widely and this dramatically affects the politics of those countries. An important part of this course will be studying how electoral systems affect party systems, candidate selection, party organization, (gender, ethnic, and other types of) representation, and policy outcomes. We will also learn the mechanics of the various voting systems, from nominal systems (such as the single member district system we use in the US) to proportional representation systems, with assorted twists (open vs. closed party list) and eccentric systems (SNTV, STV) throw in for good measure. Students will leave the course with a solid understanding of what electoral systems are and how vitally important they are for politics.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Seminar Discussion

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

No final exam

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Robert J. Pekkanen
Date: 03/13/2012