Political Science | Comparative Democratic Institutions (3 cr)
Y657 | 3325 | Monroe


This seminar is focused on the analysis of democratic political institutions
at a constitutional level.  The major institutions to be examined include
executive/legislative relationships (presidential versus parliamentary
government), areal relationships (federal versus unitary government,
regional autonomy relationships, secession), electoral systems, and
legislative structures (bicameralism versus unicameralism).  We will discuss
how these institutions can be evaluated by reference to their protection of
majority or minority rights, their efficiency or stability, their
representational features, and their ability to mitigate conflict.  We will
discuss both ideal constitutional structures and those that emerge from
actual nation-building processes.   Comparative examples will be drawn from
polities at different stages of democratization.
Possible primary readings include Lijphart (DEMOCRACIES), Powell
(CONTEMPORARY DEMOCRACIES), Sartori (COMPARATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL
ENGINEERING), Shugart and Carey (PRESIDENTS and ASSEMBLIES), Cox (MAKING
VOTES COUNT), Lijphart (ELECTORAL SYSTEMS and PARTY SYSTEMS), Riker
(FEDERALISM), Lapidoth (AUTONOMY), and Tsebelis and Money (BICAMERALISM).
The exact details of the reading list will be adjusted to reflect the
interests of the students in the seminar.  The subject of comparative
institutions offers an exciting and broad array of research possibilities
for students in almost all subfields.  The practical focus of the semester
in on the production of seminar papers that reflect high-quality research.
The last meeting of this seminar produced several papers that are published
or under review, and it would be very useful for the production of
second-year papers.