Prof. Kevin Deegan Krause, Wayne State University

Web Address: http://www.clas.wayne.edu/polisci/kdk/parties

Introduction: This course is about democracy and the kinds of institutions that might make it work, and help it live up to its promise.  By now it is almost cliche to quote Winston Churchill's remark that "Democracy is the worst form of government ... except for all the others that have been tried from time to time."  This course begins from the same starting point as Churchill: that democracy is worth keeping even when it is at its most frustrating.  (Questions about whether democracy really is such a good idea after all will, of course, come up, but they are not the primary focus of the course).  Toward that end, we will focus on the three most important institutions of democracy: elections, parties and governments.

In democracies, elections are the critical moment of choice. Elections translate a vast array of preferences into a single, relatively narrow set of options. Without this narrowing, many argue, it would be impossible to even consider allowing the population as a whole to have any say in how it is governed. When our moment of choice comes, it is usually not strictly among ideas or among people but among ideas and people as they are organized in political parties. For the past 100 years, political parties have played a main role in the drama of democracy, sometimes advancing, sometimes in receding, but always in the center of the stage. This course is about these two inseparably linked political institutions and how they influence one another and politics as a whole.  The goal of parties in elections is, of course, the capacity to direct the course of public policy, and the processes by which parties cooperate and compete with others in governments and other executive and judicial institutions is the focus of the final third of this course.  On the basis of what we discuss here, we will turn to the future, looking at the dangers and opportunities that democracy will face in the future.

You should take this course if you have an interest in how democracies work, if you want to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that democracies around the world use to take the leap from what people want to what they get. You probably should not take this course if you cannot devote a reasonable amount of time and energy to reading carefully (50 to 100 pages per class!), thinking deeply, and writing well.

The course is designed to help you achieve the following four desirable ends
  • To learn the basic models of democratic institutions:  how democracies elect  political leaders through majority systems, proportional systems, or mixed systems; how would-be leaders organize themselves into political parties, through elite parties, mass parties, catch-all and cartel parties; how parties compete together to form various systems ranging from dominant-party configurations to highly fragmented configurations; and how parties in power govern through presidential or parliamentary institutional structures and their variants;
  • To understand how different electoral systems, different political party structures, and different party systems shape one another and how, together, these shape politics;
  • To be able to apply these concepts to concrete problems within particular countries and to draw well-reasoned conclusions about how electoral systems, party systems, and governmental institutions affect political outcomes;
  • To write well. This includes both a clear, engaging writing style and organization that gets to the point yet does not oversimplify.

Methods: Every class period will involve an integrated mix of lecture and discussion. Lectures will touch on and complement the readings assigned for class. In-class discussion will tie together the lectures and readings and give you the opportunity to add your own insights about the questions we are discussing and to help you get inside the heads of the people we read about and understand why they acted as they did. The exams will give you the chance to show what you have learned (and the incentive to learn it). The five writing assignments--two in-class and three take-home--will challenge you to think more deeply about particular topics covered in the course and to apply what you have learned to real situations. They will also help you develop your ability to construct cogent arguments and to write with clarity and precision.

Assignments: The following list of assignments and expectations should give you an idea of what you will need to do in this course:

• 2 page reflection - 5%
• Take-home mid-term exam - 15%
• 5 page guided paper - 30%
• 7 page guided paper - 30%
• Take-home final exam - 15%
• Daily question and other minor tasks - 5%

There are also a few other assignment-related considerations worth your attention
  • The course will also include a map quiz that will require you to identify important democratic and potentially-democratic countries on a world map. The map quiz will be offered at least three times during the semester. Your performance on the map quiz will not affect your grade, but you must pass it in order to pass the course.
  • As part of the course, I will ask you to follow political developments in a country or group of countries of your choice (with some limits).  To keep you up to date, I will ask you to subscribe to the New York Times Online and choose the "International Headlines" option (6 is the maximum number of headlines you can ask for) and to The Economist weekly political review.  When matters arise that affect your country or countries, I may ask you to talk about them to the class.
  • Students who wish to use this course to fulfill a writing-intensive requirement may substitute a 15-20 page research paper for the two guided papers. If you wish to use this option, you must talk to me by January 22, 2001.

Grades. Grades depend on you. Except in cases of remarkable excellence or incapacity, the median grade for the course will hover around a 3.0. Final grades will, in general, reflect assignment grades, but other factors can also affect your overall result:
  • Participation in class discussion can, if especially intelligent, raise your final grade by as much as 1/3 of a full letter grade (making a B into a B+, for example). Unprepared rambling, stony silence, or regular absence can reduce your grade by the same amount. If you are having problems with discussion, find me and talk with me about it.
  • Class attendance is mandatory and will be recorded. More than three unexcused absences will result in a penalty of one full letter grade. Habitual lateness can incur the same penalty.
  • No student can receive a passing grade without completing all required assignments; it is not enough simply to do well on most assignments and leave one or two undone.  Students failing to complete all required work by the end of the term will receive a grade of E.
This course will make heavy use of on-line resources to save you money, but we will also use two excellent and relatively inexpensive books:
  • Ware, Alan. 1995. Political Parties and Party Systems, London: Oxford University Press. New: $19.95.
  • Lijphart, Arend. 1999. Patterns of Democracy : Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, New Haven: Yale University Press. New: $18.00
This is, of course, not the only material we will be using. All the rest of the materials used in the course are available on line at this website.  If downloading and printing out all of the material poses a financial or logistical hardship, please contact me so that we can find a solution.

The Class Schedule: This list represents a minimum set of readings for the course. I reserve the privilege of making additions over time, but I promise to inform you about any such changes well in advance.

Section I. The worst form of government...

Class 1: Tuesday, January 11
Theme: Introduction

Class 2: Thursday, January 14
Theme: What is democracy, anyway?

    * Dahl, On Democracy, Chapters 1 through 4
    * Przeworski, Democracy and the Market, selection
    * Definitions of Democracy


Class 3: Tuesday, January 18
Theme: Where did it come from?
    * Arblaster, Democracy, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4

Optional Readings:
    * Rempel, "How Democratic Was Athens"
    * Lindberg "Problems of Democracy in Classical Athens: Ours As Well?"
    * Sammons, "What's Wrong with Democracy? From Athenian Practice to American Worship, Chapter 2

Class 4: Thursday, January 20
Theme: Where is it now?
    * Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, Chapters 1-4
    * Federalist 10 and 51


Section II. Elections and Electoral Systems

Class 5: Tuesday, January 25
Theme: The Basics
    * Design Principles for Electoral Systems
    * IFES Election Guide
    * Powell, Elections as Instruments of Democracy


Class 6: Thursday, January 27

Theme: Electoral systems I: First past the post
    * Farrell, David M. 1998. Comparing Electoral Systems. London: Macmillan. Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
    * ACE Project Reports on First Past the Post a single file or as separate files:
          o Electoral Systems Overview
          o First Past the Post (FPTP)
          o First Past the Post - Advantages
          o First Past the Post-Disadvantages
          o UK: Electoral System Experimentation in Cradle of FPTP
          o US: Ethnic Minorities and Single-Member Districts

Class 7: Tuesday, February 1
Theme: Electoral systems II: First past the post revisited
    * Farrell, Comparing Electoral Systems, Chapter 3
    * ACE Project Reports on First Past the Post a single file or as separate files:
          o Alternative Vote
          o Alternative Vote-Advantages
          o Alternative Vote-Disadvantages
          o Two-Round System
          o Two-Round System-Advantages
          o Two-Round System-Disadvantages
          o The Alternative Vote in Australia
          o Ukraine - The Perils of Majoritarianism in a New Democracy

Class 8: Thursday, February 3
Theme: Electoral systems III: Proportional systems
    * Farrell, Comparing Electoral Systems, Chapter 4
    * ACE Project Reports on Proportional Representation a single file or as separate files:
          o PR Systems
          o Allocation of Seats
          o List PR
          o List PR-Advantages
          o List PR-Disadvantages
          o PR Related Issues
          o Thresholds
          o Apparentement
          o Open, Closed and Free Lists
          o District Magnitude
          o Poland: Between Fragmentation and Polarisation


Class 9: Tuesday, February 8
Theme: Electoral systems IV: Proportionality revisited
    * Farrell, David M. 1998. Comparing Electoral Systems. London: Macmillan. Chapter 5 and Chapter 6
    * ACE Project Reports on Proportional Representation a single file or as separate files:
          o Mixed Member Proportional
          o Mixed Member Proportional-Advantages
          o MMP-Disadvantages
          o Parallel
          o Parallel-Advantages
          o Parallel-Disadvantages
          o Single Transferable Vote
          o Single Transferable Vote-Advantages
          o Single Transferable Vote-Disdvantages
          o Germany: The Original Mixed Member Proportional System
          o Russia-An Evolving Parallel System
          o Ireland: The Archetypal Single Transferable Vote System

Class 10-12: Thursday, February 10 through Thursday February 18
Theme: Electoral systems in review
    * Farrell, Comparing Electoral Systems, Chapter 7
    * The Global Distribution of Electoral Systems

Section III. Political Parties and Party Systems

Class 11: Tuesday, February 22
Theme: The Basics
    * Ware, Political Parties and Party Systems, Introduction
    * Ware, Parties and Party Systems, Chapter 3


Class 12: Thursday, February 24
Theme: How Parties Organize
    * Washington, "Farewell Address"
    * Katz, "Party Organizations and Finance,"  Chapter 4 (Handout)

Class 13: Tuesday, March 1
Theme: How Parties Pay
    * IDEA Handbook, "Campaign Finance"
    * Mann, "The Battle over Campaign Finance"

Class 14: Thursday, March 3
Theme: What Parties Stand For
    * Ware, Parties and Party Systems, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2

Class 15: Tuesday, March 8
Theme: How Parties Compete
    * Lipset and Rokkan, "Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments"
    * Lijphart, Democracies, Chapter 8

Class 16: Thursday, March 10
Theme: Cleavages and Critical Elections
    * Sundquist, Critical Elections and the Mainsprings of American Politics (Excerpts) (handout)
    * Shafer and Claggett, The Two Majorities (Excerpts) (handout)
    * Harris, "'04 Voting: Realignment -- Or a Tilt?"


Class 17: Tuesday, March 22
Theme: Party System Size
    * Ware, Parties and Party Systems, Chapter 5
    * Blondel, "TYPES OF PARTY SYSTEM"
    * Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, Chapter 5

Class 18: Thursday, March 24
Theme: Party System Stability
    * Ware, Parties and Party Systems, Chapters 6 and 7  

Section IV. Governments

Class 19: Tuesday, March 29
Theme: Getting Elected
    * Ware, Parties and Party Systems, Chapter 10
    * King, "Running Scared"


Class 20: Thursday, March 31
Theme: Choosing an Executive
    * Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, Chapters 6 and 7

Class 21: Tuesday, April 5
Theme: Divided Responsibilities: Houses and Regions
    * Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, Chapters 9, 10 and 11

Class 22: Thursday, April 7
Theme: Vox Populi:  Other Institutional Pathways
    * Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, Chapters 12 and 13
    * Lijphart, Democracies (not Patterns of Democracy), Chapter 12


Section V. ...except for all the others?

Class 25: Tuesday, April 12
Theme: Evaluating Success and Failure
    * Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, Chapters 15-17

Class 26: Thursday, April 14
Theme: The Challenge of Democracy
    * Diamond, Is the Third Wave of Democratization Over? An Empirical Assessment
    * Levitsky and Way "Competitive Authoritarianism"

Class 27: Tuesday April 19 and Thursday, April 21
Theme: While the cat is away.
To Do:
    * Relax and enjoy a film (to be announced)
    * Prepare for the take-home final.

Final: May 2

Class 28: Early May
Theme: What the future holds
Dinner and discussion at my house.  Details to follow.