Political Science 455                                                   Spring 2003

Government & Politics of Western Europe              TR 1:00-2:15

119 Thomas



Prof. Lee Ann Banaszak                                               Office Hrs: TR 3:00-4:30 p.m.

210 Sparks Building                                                       and by appointment

Telephone:  865-6573                                         E-mail:  LAB14@psu.edu



Course Description. 


This course will examine the similarities and differences of the democratic governments of Western Europe.  I assume that students in this class have had PLSC 20 or PL SC 3 (if not you should see me) and therefore have some rudimentary knowledge of European politics.  The purpose of this class is to: 1) put some of that knowledge in a theoretical perspective 2) deepen your knowledge about the countries you already know and 3) expand your knowledge to other parts of Western Europe.  We will begin by examining different definitions of democracies and looking at two types of democratic systems: majoritarian and consensus democracies.  Then we focus on one explanation for why some democratic institutions seem to work and why others do not.  The third section of the course focuses on the European Union; in addition to exploring its role in Europe we will examine whether it qualifies as a democratic institution.   


Required Readings:


Lijphart, Arend.  1999.  Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performances in Thirty-Six CountriesYale University Press: New Haven

Steiner, Jürg.  1997.  European Democracies.  Fourth Edition.  Longman:  New York.


Putnam, Robert.  1993.  Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern ItalyPrinceton: Princeton University Press. 

Hix, Simon.  1999.  The Political System of the European UnionNew York: St. Martins.  ISBN 0-312-22536-9

All other readings are available through the Electronic Reserve System of Pattee Library.  This can be accessed by logging into http://cat.libraries.psu.edu using your PSU Access Account and Password.  From “The Cat” page, press the hot link to “Course Reserves” then search for the class number.  All readings for the semester will be listed there so be sure to check that you are reading the correct reading.


The New York Times:  All students are required to read stories in the weekly The New York Times (excluding weekend newspapers) about politics in European countries.  While other newspapers may provide similar coverage I will be referring to specific newspaper stories in class.  If you chose a different paper, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are getting the same information that you need.  We will occasionally discuss current European politics stories in class.  Any material of this type is fair-game for the exams. 

Course Requirements and Grades.


Student Responsibilities:  The class will meet TR from 1:00-2:15 PM.  Most sessions will be devoted to class discussions.  The midterm and final exams will include material from assigned readings, class discussions, and the occasional lecture.  It is your responsibility to attend class or to obtain good notes from fellow students when you miss class. 

Lectures and class discussions are designed to provide additional material and highlight some of the important features of each topic -- not to review the reading.  It is therefore important to have read and thought about the assigned readings prior to the class period.  Class participation, which constitutes 10% of your grade, will be judged in part by its quality which means being informed about the readings when we discuss them. 


Grades:  Grades will be determined on a strict percentage basis using the following scale:  A = 95-100%, A- = 91-94%, B+ = 88-90%, B=84-87%, B-=81-83%, C+=78-80%, C=70-77%, D=60-69%, F= 59% or below.  The criteria and their relative weight in your final grade are as follows:


  1. 50% of your grade will be based on the two exams (one midterm and one final) each worth 25% of your grade covering the readings, lectures and class discussions.


  1. 10% of your grade will be based on class participation; this includes participating in discussion and completion of in-class assignments.  In-class assignments are not announced in advance; Students may miss two in-class assignments with no penalty and makeup one additional assignment using the class attendance make-up assignment.  After that, no make-ups will be allowed.


  1. 10% will be based on class attendance. Each student is allowed to miss two classes without penalty.  After that, attendance will be graded on a strict percentage basis (see grade scale above).  If you attend only 60% of the classes, you will receive a D in attendance.  There are no excused absences but you may makeup an absence by completing the makeup assignment described below. 
  2. 5% for a one page paper proposal outlining your plans for your research paper and five sources that you will use in the paper (Due March 13th).   In order to receive a grade on your research paper, you must have a current paper proposal on the topic of your paper turned in by April 8th.  This means that if you decide to change your paper topic, you must turn in a new proposal.  Note:  Your final paper will be graded down if you do not use the sources you list in your proposal.


  1. 25% for a research paper running NO MORE THAN 15 pages due on May 1st.  In the paper, you will use Lijphart’s categories of democratic countries to analyze the specific policy of one West European country (excluding the United Kingdom, Italy, and Switzerland).  Papers will be described in greater detail in a handout later in the semester.  In order to receive any credit on your research paper, you must hand in a current paper proposal 3 weeks before the papers are due



Makeup Assignment for Class Absences

Absences will be excused only by completing a make-up assignment.  The make-up assignment is a 2 page typewritten paper explaining what was covered in the missed class, and explaining its relevance to the major questions in the course.  In order to complete this assignment you will need to receive notes from other students in the class.  Make-up assignments will be accepted only for two weeks after the student returns to class.  Students who have suffered from lengthy illnesses may petition to have the two week deadline waived. 


Late Policy for Papers and Paper Proposals.

Late assignments and final papers will be graded down one letter grade for each business day they are late (e.g. from A to A-), and will not be accepted if they are more than a week late unless there is proof of a serious emergency. 


Exam Make-Up Policy.

NO MAKEUP EXAMS will be allowed unless written proof is provided of a serious emergency (e.g. hospitalization, death of a parent).  In such cases, you must contact me as soon as possible to arrange alternative exams; failure to do so will result in an F for the exam. In these rare cases, the makeup exam will be in essay format and include material covered in the intervening period.



Academic Honesty Policy

Please see the departmental policy on academic dishonesty attached to this syllabus.  You should know that I take academic dishonesty very seriously.  All students caught committing acts of academic dishonesty will be referred to Judicial Affairs and will receive an F in the course.

The largest confusion about academic honesty occurs on the question of plagiarism. Failure to provide adequate acknowledgment of the source of ideas which are not your own constitutes plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs even when you paraphrase ideas that are not your own as long as you do not credit the original source. Therefore, even when you paraphrase, you must provide adequate citations. A second common mistake is inadequate use of quotation marks. Even if you take as few as 3 consecutive words from a source, you need to use quotation marks and provide a citation. If you paraphrase a work, be sure that it is completely different from the original in structure and language, and that you provide a citation to the original source. If you are unsure when and how to use quotation marks or how to adequately cite materials, use a guide to writing English (I will be happy to recommend one), visit the Writing Center (219 Boucke, 865-1841), or see me.



Tentative Schedule and Readings



Week 1


Class 1 1/14      Introduction to Policies and Procedures and Overview of the Course       



Definitions of Democracy


Class 2 1/16      Readings:  Dahl, Robert.  “Democratization and Public Opposition.” from Chapt. 1 of Polyarchy



Week 2


Class 1 1/21      Readings: Huber, Evenlyne; Dietrich Rueschmeyer and John D. Stephens.  1997. “The Paradoxes of Contemporary Democracy:Formal, Participatory and Social Dimensions” Comparative Politics (April) pp. 323-341




European Democracies in a Comparative Perspective



Class 2 1/23      Patterns of Democracy, pp. 1-61



Week 3


Class 1 1/28      Patterns of Democracy, pp. 62-89          and

Inglehart, Ronald.  1971. “Value Change in Industrial Societies”. American Political Science Review 65: 1289-1303.


Class 2 1/30      Patterns of Democracy, pp. 90-115 and

            Chapter 3 on Cabinet Formation in Steiner, Jürg.

European Democracies, Longman: New York.



Week 4


Class 1 2/4        Patterns of Democracy, pp. 116-142      


Class 2 2/6        Patterns of Democracy, pp. 142-170 and

                                    Chapter 2 on Parliamentary Electoral Systems in Steiner, Jürg, European Democracies.



Week 5


Class 1 2/11      Patterns of Democracy, pp. 171-184       and

                                    Chapter 6 on Economic Interest Groups in Steiner, Jürg, European Democracies.

Class 2 2/13      Patterns of Democracy, pp. 185-215 and Bogdanor, Vernon.  1999.

“Devolution:  Decentralisation or Disintegration?” Political Quarterly, 70 (2), April-June: 185-194.



Week 6

Class 1 2/18      Patterns of Democracy, pp. 216-257 and           

Trillin, Calvin.  2000.  “How to Get Elected As Citizen.”  Time, May 22, 2000, p. 32


Class 2 2/20      Patterns of Democracy, pp. 258-309



Week 7


Class 1 2/25      Review           


Class 2 2/27      Exam



Social Capital, Cultures, and Democracy in Italy


Week 8


Class 1 3/4        Library Class, Meet in 302 Paterno Library


Class 2 3/6        Introduction to Italian politics

Read Fabbrini, Sergio. 2000.  “Political Change without Institutional Transformation: What can We Learn from the Italian Crisis of the 1990s?”  International Political Science Review 21(2): 173-196.

Week 9


Class 1 3/18      Read Putnam pp. 3-62


Class 2 3/20      Putnam pp. 63-120       

                                    Paper Proposals Due



Week 10


Class 1 3/25      Read Putnam pp. 121-185


Class 2 3/27      Read Newell, James and Martin J. Bull.  2002.  “Italian Politics after the 2001 General Election: Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose?”  Parliamentary Affairs 55: 626-642.



The European Community


Week 11


Class 1 4/1        Development of the EC

                                    Read Hix, Chapter 1     


Class 2 4/3        No Class



Week 12


Class 1 4/8        Executive Politics

 Read Hix, Chapter 2    


Class 2 4/10      Legislative Politics

Read Hix, Chapter 3.

                                    Final Paper Proposals Due



Week 13


Class 1 4/15      Judicial Politics

Read Hix, Chapter 4


Class 2 4/17      Public Opinion and Mass Support

                                    Read Hix, Chapter 5



Week 14


Class 1 4/22      Parties and Elections

                                    Read Hix, Chapter 6     


Class 2 4/24      Interest groups

Read Hix, Chapter 7



Week 15

Class 1 4/29      Redistributive Policies

Read Hix, Chapter 9


Class 2 5/1        Review and Catch up day



Final Exam Tentatively Scheduled for Thursday, May 8, 4:40-6:30 p.m.