Spring Semester 1999
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00-12:15
521 General Classroom Building


Dr. William M. Downs
Department of Political Science
Georgia State University
Tel:  (404) 651-4841
Fax: (404) 651-1434

The principal aim of this upper-level undergraduate course is to achieve an advanced understanding of major substantive and theoretical issues in contemporary European political systems. A comparative methodological approach will encourage critical thinking about key trends and controversies, and it will enable students to assess the performance of individual political systems in relation to broader patterns in both Europe and--by extension--the United States. Among the topics covered by lectures and readings will be the following: political culture and value change, party systems and party government, electoral behavior, political control over national economic policy making, effects of unemployment and inflation on government stability, territorial decentralization, right-wing extremism, foreign and security policy, and supranational integration. We will ask such questions as:

The following texts are required reading and are available for purchase:

Gabriel A. Almond, Russell J. Dalton, and G. Bingham Powell, Jr., eds. European Politics Today. New York: Longman, 1999.

Henri J. Warmenhoven, ed. Global Studies: Western Europe, 5th edition. Guilford, CN: Dushkin, 1997

Russell Dalton. Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies, 2nd edition. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House, 1996.

Notes on Articles and Chapters: Additional readings will come from select journal articles and book chapters, which will be made accessible to you. Unless otherwise indicated, all such required journal articles and book chapters will be on reserve at Library South. Moreover, we may decide to distribute a copy of the following week's reading at each class session--allowing those who so wish to then arrive at their own system for copying and circulation. Those for whom neither of the above systems works may be able to check materials out for 2 hour periods from the file holder on my office door.

Students will be evaluated along four dimensions. Half of your grade will be determined by a midterm exam (20%) and a comprehensive final exam (30%). The remainder of your grade will be determined by regular and active class participation, scores on two short essay assignments, and a research paper.

Attendance. This is a lecture-discussion course. Students are thus expected to attend all class sessions and will sign an attendance sheet at each class. Students who miss more than two classes will lose 2% of the final course grade for each additional class missed, up to a total of 10%. Absences for medical reasons or for attending an official university sponsored inter-collegiate event (but not a practice) will be excused only when accompanied by a written note from the attending physician (one week following absence) or team coach (one week prior to event).

Class Participation. Students must complete the assigned readings on time and actively participate in class discussions. To stay abreast of developments in European politics, students should follow current events through the reading of a major national newspaper, such as the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, or the Wall Street Journal. Regular reading of news magazines such as The Economist, International Herald Tribune, Time, Newsweek, or US News and World Report is also recommended. All of these papers are available for free on the World Wide Web. Current events will be discussed throughout the course and may also be part of the exams.

Examinations. Two in-class examinations, consisting of a midterm exam and comprehensive final, will constitute 50% of each student's grade. The exams will consist of a mix of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. Material discussed in class as well as material covered in required readings will appear on the exams. I also reserve the right to schedule unannounced quizzes on the readings if deemed necessary. In the past, I have given as few as none and as many as four pop quizzes during the course of a semester. No make-ups will be given for missed quizzes.

Written Assignments. At the beginning of the semester, students will select two European countries that will subsequently be the focus of two take-home written assignments worth 20% of your grade. The assignments will be distributed at least one week in advance of their due date. These assignments (approximately 5 double-spaced, type-written pages plus bibliography) will require each student to use traditional research methods, such as library research, and newly emerging research tools, such as the World Wide Web.

The research paper (20%) will involve an analysis of a specific question about European politics. A well-developed paper prospectus (5% of the paper grade) describing the problem, outlining the research focus, time frame, and countries for the paper--and including a preliminary bibliography--is due on March 2. The paper is due without exception on April 29. Details of the paper assignment will be distributed and discussed early in the semester.

Distribution of Grade Weights:

Paper 1                                 10%
Paper 2                                 10
Research Paper Prospectus     5
Research Paper                     15
Midterm                                20
Participation                          10
Final Exam                            30


Topic I.
Introduction to European Politics & Political Economy

January 12     Introduction to Course

        Introductory comments and discussion of course format.
        Framing of central issues and questions.
January 14     Historical and Institutional Foundations of Democracy in Europe
Topic II.
Parliamentary Government: The British Model

January 19     Historical Context of Contemporary Politics/Processes and Institutions

January 21     The Road to Tony Blair and "New Labour" January 26     Politics of Territorial Identity in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland         Web Links of Interest:
             British General Election 1997
                    United Kingdom Parliament
                    British Monarchy
                    Liberal Democratic Party
                    Conservative Party
                    Labour Party
                    Scottish National Party
                    New Northern Ireland Assembly
                    Newspaper Links
Topic III.
Mixed Parliamentary-Presidential Systems: The French Model

January 28     Constitutional Engineering and the Durability of the Fifth Republic

February 2     Evaluating System Performance February 4     Oil on the Fire: How Immigration has Fueled the Rise of the Front National Web Links of Interest: National Assembly
Foreign Ministry
Socialist Party (PS)
Rally for the Republic (RPR)
Front National (FN)
Le Monde (major newspaper)
Topic IV.
Federal Political Systems: The German Model

February 9    From Occupation to Reunification: Political Development

February 11 Coping with the Problems of Unity February 16 Red-Green Government: Making Sense of the 1998 Bundestag Election                             Web Links of Interest:
                                  German Federal Government
                                                Federal Chancellor
                                                1998 Election Results (BBC)
                                                1998 Election Results (CNN)
                                                Christian Democrats (CDU)
                                                Social Democrats (SPD)
                                                Free Democrats (FDP)
                                                Party of Democratic Socialists

Topic V.
Citizen Politics


February 18     Politics and the Public in Europe and America

February 23     Measuring Value Change February 25     Should Voting be Mandatory? Evidence from the European Experience Web Links of Interest: Eurobarometer opinion surveys
Electoral Results
British public opinion studies
French public opinion studies
Topic VI.
Consociationalism In Europe

March 2     How Can Stability Be Achieved in Culturally Fragmented Societies?

Web Links of Interest: Austrian Constitution
Things Belgian
Dutch Politics
Swiss Institutions and Actors
March 4         Midterm

March 9 Spring Break

March 11 Spring Break

Topic VII.
Democratization in Southern Europe


March 16     The Spanish and Portuguese Roads to Reform

March 18     Reinventing Government, Greek and Italian Styles Web Links of Interest: Spain online
Portuguese government sites
Greek political resources
Italian political parties
Spanish Civil War
Topic VIII.
The International Dimension: Politics in the European Union

March 23     Why Europe? Historical Origins of the European Union

March 25     Institutions: Commission, Parliament, Court of Justice, Committee of Regions March 30    European Monetary Union and the Single Currency April 1         Toward a European Welfare State? April 6         US-EU Relations April 8         Model EU Debate Web Links of Interest: European Union
European Treaties
European Parliament
Common Foreign Policy
Balkans Crisis
EU Center of Georgia

Topic IX.
And Then the Wall Came Down: Rebirth in Eastern Europe

April 13     The First Domino: Poland--From Solidarity to NATO April 15     A Democratic Political Culture in Ten Years? Evidence from Hungary

April 20     Guest Speaker:  Attilio Stajano, Visiting Professor and EU Scholar-in-Residence
                  (European Union Center, University System of Georgia)

April 22     On the Outside Wanting In: Extending NATO/EU Membership to Eastern Europe

April 27     Russia: Part of the New Europe? Web Links of Interest: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Poland online
Hungarian government
Central and Eastern Europe links
Enlargement Reports

April 29     Europe in the 21st Century: Prospects and Challenges

May 6         Exam

Note: This course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.

Note: Students are responsible for the information contained in the Academic Honesty policy found in On Campus.