Political parties are key players in modern mass democracy. Against this background, this seminar seeks to elucidate how party political competition in various European countries is structured, how the current party systems emerged and evolved over time, and to what extent the logic of political competition has changed as a reaction to both internal and external pressures. In the context of our discussion of party systems, we will not only deal with the ideological profiles of political parties but also with the underlying political preferences of voters and with the impact of changing mass preferences on the structure of party systems.
The first part of the seminar discusses a number of classical approaches to party organization and party system analysis. The second part then addresses the issue of party and party system change. We look at the cartel party thesis and discuss to what extent Europeanization has transformed domestic party organization. We also look at the rise of Green or New Left parties, right-wing populist and Eurosceptic political parties against the background of societal phenomena such as the growing importance of post-materialist values as well as the impact of globalization and European integration.
In order to pass the seminar, students are required to prepare the weekly reading assignments, participate in research groups that will look at specific aspects of the seminar topics, and, depending on the study programme, either write a seminar paper on a topic related to the seminar theme or take an oral exam.
Crotty, William S./Richard S. Katz (eds.), 2006: Handbook of Party Politics. London: Sage.
Dalton, Russel J./Hans-Dieter Klingemann (eds.), 2007: The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mair, Peter, 2014: On Parties, Party Systems and Democracy. Colchester: ECPR Press.