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Bachelor 2020/2021

Politics and Societies in the European Countries

Category 'Best Course for Broadening Horizons and Diversity of Knowledge and Skills'
Category 'Best Course for New Knowledge and Skills'
Type: Elective course (Political Science and World Politics)
Area of studies: Political Science
When: 3 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: offline
Open to: students of one campus
Instructors: Darius Ruda
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus


The course is related to the comparison of the institutional designs, political regimes and welfare state models. The first part of the course is based on typology of democratic institutions by A. Lijphart and devoted to the variety of institutional designs in Europe (e.g. majoritarian, consensus). Here the issues of democratic backsliding in Europe and other political challenges are also discussed. The second part of the course explores the varieties of socioeconomic policies in Europe, based on the typology of G. Esping – Andersen and other relevant classifications, to understand basic approaches of different countries towards welfare provision and socio-economic policies. The issue of policy of Europeanization is considered as well. During the course students are expected to get a closer look at the European countries and acquire theoretical knowledge for their comparative research
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To give students a comparative overview of the political institutions and processes in the European countries
  • To acquaint students with the basic trends of socio-economic and societal development of the European countries, including the peculiarities of public policy-making
  • To develop students' skills in application of theoretical models to the analysis of political and socio-economic processes in European countries
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Enumerates and defines the main trends of development of Europe as a region
  • Applies the theoretical models of democracy (consensus and majoritarian) and their elements to the analysis of political systems and institutions of European countries
  • Enumerates and describes the main features of political systems, institutions and processes in European countries
  • Enumerates and describes the main patterns, trends and models in political regime dinamycs of the European countries
  • Defines and applies the models of welfare state and their key elements to analyze the patterns of public policy-making in European countries
  • Able to define the main characteristics of the public policy making in Europe
  • Describes the main features of societies and societal trends in Europe
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Europe: An Overview
    Europe as a Region. Historical Legacies. Social, Economic and Cultural Diversity. Political Systems Overview. The European Union as a Political System and National Political Systems.
  • Majoritarian and Consensus Democracies
    Lijphart’s Approach to Institutional Design: Westminster (Majoritarian) vs. Consensus (Consensual) Models. Institutional Features of Majoritarian Democracies. Consensus Model of Democracy. Power-sharing, Parties and Interest Representation in Consensus Democracies. Advantages and Shortcomings of the Consensus Model.
  • Patterns of Power-Sharing
    Varieties of Institutional Designs in Europe. Governments and Parliaments. Parliamentarism and Semi-Presidentialism in Europe.
  • Patterns of Horizontal Power Division
    Horizontal division of Power: Federal, Unitary and Decentralized States. Local Governments. The EU and Multilevel Governance. Divided Societies and Conflict Resolution.
  • Political Regime Dynamics: Democratization
    Democratization: Theories and Approaches. P. Schmitter and G. O’Donnel. Factors and Patterns of Democratization. Democratic Consolidation. Democratization of Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in 1970s-1990s. The Concept of Democratic Backsliding. Backsliding in Eastern and Central Europe. The EU and Democratic Backsliding.
  • Political Regime Dynamics: Democratic Backsliding
    The Notion of the Democratic Backsliding. Backsliding and Institutional Change. The EU and Democratic Backsliding.
  • Parties and Elections
    Party and electoral systems in Europe. Elections and turnout. The European Parliament Elections. Ideologies and Party Manifestos.
  • Citizens and Interest Groups
    Political Participation and Institutional Trust beyond Elections. Interest Group Representation Models: Pluralism, Corportatism and Neopluralism.
  • Models of the Welfare State
    Welfare State. Models of the Welfare State (Esping-Andersen): Social-Democratic (Nordic), Corporatist (Conservative), Liberal (Anglo-Saxon). The “Southern Model” of the Welfare State. Social Policies. European Social Policy.
  • Europeanization of Politics and Policy
    Europeanization: Definition and Mechanisms. The Impact of the EU on the National Political Systems. Europeanization of Public Policy. Policy Europeanization beyond the EU
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Class activity
    The teacher assesses the level of students' preparation for and engagement in the seminar discussion and activities, the comprehension of material and required readings.
  • non-blocking Group presentation
    A 15-minute group presentation is delivered on each seminar (except the first and the last one). Each student should participate in at least one presentation. Topics for group presentations are distributed at the first seminar.
  • non-blocking Essay
    An individual essay (15-20 thousand symbols max) is to be submitted no later than two weeks before the last seminar. An essay can be written on one of the proposed topics, but student may choose their own topic upon a prior consultation with a lecturer. 1) The topic of the essay or the introduction must have a clear question that is to be answered in the essay. The answer – the argument – should be clearly presented and justified; 2) The essay should contain an introduction (problem statement), a main part (argument development) and a conclusion (summing up); 3) The essay should contain a critical literature review of relevant and up-to-date articles or books; 4) The argument is to be justified by the empirical data related to the chosen cases (countries); 5) The length of the essay should be about 20 thousand characters, including spaces (footnotes are not included); 6) The essay may follow any reference style, but it should follow only one style coherently.
  • non-blocking Exam
    A written examination is conducted during the session in a test format (with 20 closed and 4 open questions)
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.25 * Class activity + 0.25 * Essay + 0.25 * Exam + 0.25 * Group presentation


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Esping-Andersen, G., & United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. (1996). Welfare States in Transition : National Adaptations in Global Economies. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=309783
  • Hakki Taş. (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Civil Society by Michael Edwards (ed.). Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2011 . 515pp., £95.00, ISBN 978 0 19 539857 1. Political Studies Review, (2), 271. https://doi.org/10.1111/10.1111/psr.2013.11.issue-2
  • Lijphart, A. (DE-588)122454499, (DE-576)161993060. (1999). Patterns of democracy : government forms and performance in thirty-six countries / Arend Lijphart. New Haven [u.a.]: Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.07968176X
  • 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
  • The Oxford handbook of comparative regionalism / edited by Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse. (2016). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.45324369X
  • The Oxford handbook of the European Union / ed. by Erik Jones . (2012). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.370910133

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Andeweg, R. B. (2000). Consociational Democracy. Annual Review of Political Science, 3(1), 509. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.3.1.509
  • Berbuir, N., Lewandowsky, M., & Siri, J. (2015). The AfD and its Sympathisers: Finally a Right-Wing Populist Movement in Germany? German Politics, 24(2), 154–178. https://doi.org/10.1080/09644008.2014.982546
  • Bochsler, D., Hänggli, R., & Häusermann, S. (2015). Introduction: Consensus Lost? Disenchanted Democracy in Switzerland. Swiss Political Science Review, 21(4), 475–490. https://doi.org/10.1111/spsr.12191
  • Choudhry, S. (2008). Constitutional Design for Divided Societies : Integration or Accommodation? Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=467636
  • Edwin Griggs. (2013). The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State by Francis G. Castles , Stephan Leibfried , Jane Lewis , Herbert Obinger and Christopher Pierson (eds). Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2010 . 876pp., £85.00, ISBN 978 0 19 957939 6. Political Studies Review, (2), 267. https://doi.org/10.1111/10.1111/psr.2013.11.issue-2
  • KASAPOVIĆ, M. (2016). Lijphart and Horowitz in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Institutional Design for Conflict Resolution or Conflict Reproduction? Politicka Misao: Croatian Political Science Review, 53(4), 174–190. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=asn&AN=122297394
  • Lees, C. (2018). The ‘Alternative for Germany’: The rise of right-wing populism at the heart of Europe. Politics, 38(3), 295–310. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263395718777718
  • Middleton, R. (2010). The Oxford Handbook of British Politics. By Matthew Flinders, Andrew Gamble, Colin Hay, and Michael Kenny. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.93428C94
  • MUDDE, C. (2013). Three decades of populist radical right parties in Western Europe: So what? European Journal of Political Research, 52(1), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6765.2012.02065.x
  • Radaelli, C. M., & Featherstone, K. (2003). The Politics of Europeanization. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=257780
  • Siri, J. (2018). The Alternative for Germany after the 2017 Election. German Politics, 27(1), 141–145. https://doi.org/10.1080/09644008.2018.1445724
  • Strohmeier, G. (2015). Does Westminster (still) represent the Westminster model? An analysis of the changing nature of the UK’s political system. European View, 14(2), 303–315. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12290-015-0368-0
  • Vatter, A. (2016). Switzerland on the Road from a Consociational to a Centrifugal Democracy? Swiss Political Science Review, 22(1), 59–74. https://doi.org/10.1111/spsr.12203
  • Weingast, B. R., & Wittman, D. (2008). The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.oxp.obooks.9780199548477