Political Science | Comparative Political Behavior (3 cr)
Y657 | 3721 | Rohrschneider


This section meets with WEUR W605

The evolution of cultural issues onto the political agenda in Western Europe
has sparked a number of important changes in European party systems.  Among
the most visible changes are the evolution of Green parties, the rise of a
viable right-authoritarian movement in several countries, and the growing
resentment of European voters toward established democratic parties. While
these developments began before the Berlin wall fell, the changed
environment in Europe after the dissolution of the iron curtain further
contributes to this trend of party system change in Europe.
This seminar in comparative electoral behavior seeks to explain these and
other developments. We will resort to a number of theories used in political
science to explain these and other recent developments. At the same time, we
will use these events (e.g., the rise of environmentalism or the formation
of authoritarian populist parties) to evaluate the validity and limits of
existing theories of electoral behavior. How well do theories about
electoral behavior explain and predict these events? What are the
deficiencies of these theories? Which aspect of the empirical reality do
contemporary theories neglect to account for? These and other questions lie
at the center of this seminar.
Participation in the seminar constitutes one important portion of your grade
(about 40%). To get participants actively involved in seminar meetings, two
students collectively will be the presenter of the assigned reading material
for 2 or 3 meetings (depending on the number of students in the seminar).
The presenters will provide a summary, around 2-3 pages single-spaced, of
the assigned readings, discussing (1) the conceptual and empirical issues
raised, (2) an evaluation of the conceptual and empirical problems
encountered, (3) the implications of the research, and (4) possible
strategies to remedy conceptual and/or empirical flaws. Non-presenters
should carefully read and evaluate the summary in light of their own
evaluation of the reading material. Students who are not presenters will
write up about three questions which they would like to see addressed by the
seminar. These questions should be based on the assigned readings, and are
typically theoretical in nature. Each question should be accompanied by a
brief statement describing its relevance. Finally, each student will prepare
a book review. I have indicated which book should be reviewed (BR). Since
these books represent major publications within a subfield, you are to write
a review, about 2-3 pages, single-spaced, and distribute it at the day of
your presentation.
For the second portion of your grade (about 60%), you are to write a
research paper, the nature of which will be discussed in class. The paper is
expected to be an original contribution to the literature in comparative
electoral behavior and, in the long run, should serve as a basis for a
manuscript to be submitted to a journal for review and publication. Although
the paper should emphasize some aspect of electoral politics, the meaning of
"behavior" is to be interpreted liberally: especially students from West
will have considerable freedom in designing a term paper that matches their
interests.  The instructor must approve the paper topic in advance. Note
that this is the second-to-last day of class. You will present the main
findings of your research to the seminar at the end of the semester.