Comparative Politics and Government
Full course description
Comparative Politics and Government introduces students to the main institutions of representative democracy. Even though democratic government is currently the norm in Europe, there is no uniform mode in how the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government interact. Based on a textbook by Gallagher, Laver and Mair, we examine how the important institutional differences among European countries extend to other aspects of the polity such as electoral systems, civil service cultures, political parties, and forms of interest representation. This course encourages students not only to understand how institutions interact but also how they reflect different ideas about the best way to govern a country. We draw on Lijphart’s work on majoritarian and consensus systems to establish the main ‘patterns of democracy’ in contemporary Europe.
At the end of this course, students will have: • The knowledge of how the executive, legislative, judiciary branches, as well as the civil service, political parties, and interest groups are organised and relate to each other in European democracies; • The ability to assess critically contemporary developments in representative democracy.
• Gallagher, M., Laver, M., & Mair, P. (2011). Representative government in modern Europe: Institutions, parties, and governments. (5th ed.). Boston MA: McGraw Hill.