Comparative political systems

A.A. 2017/2018
Crediti massimi
Ore totali
Obiettivi formativi
This course is an introduction to the use of the comparative method in the field of political science.
We pursue both implicit comparison, by contrasting various countries' differing political institutions and political dynamics, and explicit comparison, by testing hypotheses, primarily with the quantitative approach.
Knowledge and understanding: The course provides introductory knowledge and understanding of modern democracies' most important institutional mechanisms. It focuses mainly on electoral systems, party systems, legislative-executive relationships, and the performance of political systems.
Applying knowledge and understanding: Students learn how to apply concepts and methods to the analysis of everyday political problems, in order to critically read articles in leading newspapers, blogs, and weekly journals. They will also use statistical tools to perform simple quantitative analyses.
Making judgements: Students learn how to use their newly acquired skills to formulate informed judgements and to apply these to the normative problems of contemporary societies.
Communication and learning skills: Students develop communication skills by preparing and presenting short essays that illustrate the results their individual or collective work has yielded, thus improving their capacity to identify a research question, find and independently verify different sources of information, transform them into datasets, propose a feasible research strategy, and uncover (positive or negative) evidence to support or refute the original hypothesis.
Programma e organizzazione didattica

Edizione unica

Primo trimestre
The course analyses the construction and performance of two opposite models: Consensus and Westminster democracy. We will start scrutinizing the ten variables used by A. Lijphart to represent the differences between those two models: electoral systems, party systems, cabinets, executive-legislative relationships, interest groups, territorial division of power, parliaments, constitutions, judicial review, and central banks. For each of them we will review several indicators, and learn how to apply them even beyond the 36 democracies or the time-period analyzed by the author. We will then syntyhesize them in two cumulative indices of consensualism, and, with the help of econometric models, we will test if institutional setups matter for the performance of political systems. Performance will be measured in terms of governance capacity, macroeconomic control and quality of democracy. Eventually, we will extend the original research taking into account some of the critiques raised by other scholars, and further testing autonomously other hypotheses.
Informazioni sul programma
Students have to follow at least 80% of the classes in order to be considered attending. Attending students are expected to take the mid-term and the final exam during the course, and they will have a limited number of opportunities to take it with the same program after the end of the course.
Please note that the program and the evaluation for non-attending students are mostly different.
Beyond the preparatory first-year course in Political science, having already taken and succeeded in the second-year courses in Statistics, Social research methodology, and Polimetrics is highly recommended.
Prerequisiti e modalità di esame
Attending students will be assessed on the basis of a mid-term and a final written exam, and taking in account their participation in class, individual and team work.
Written exams will take different forms, including open questions in order to check their knowledge and understanding, and exercises, replication of statistical models, and information retrieval in order to verify the capacity to apply that knowledge and understanding.
Metodi didattici
Lectures, exercises with statistical packages, team work
Materiale didattico e bibliografia
A. Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, Yale UP 2012;
Other readings that will be assigned in class.
Dataset construction and analysis
Non-attending students will be introduced to the comparative analysis of different political systems and regimes, as well as the main choices and problems they have to tackle.
Furthermore, they will use Liphart's seminal volume to classify modern democracies into two polar models, and to verify the consequences of those two opposite institutional setups.
Prerequisiti e modalità di esame
Non-attending students are assessed by checking the knowledge and understanding of the two books included in the program.
The exam is written and can take different forms, but it is mostly based on open questions. Their capacity to apply that knowledge will be verified by comparing different readings and chapters, and the empirical evidence therein.
Materiale didattico e bibliografia
P.H. O'Neil, Essentials of Comparative Politics, 5th ed., Norton & Co. 2015
A. Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, 2nd ed., Yale UP 2012
Lezioni: 60 ore
Docente: Giuliani Marco
Giovedì: 10.00-13.00
Stanza 305 - 3° piano