European Politics

Political Science 827

Winter Quarter 1998

Tuesday, Thursday 5:30-7:45

250 Sparks Hall

Dr. William M. Downs Office Hours: M, W 2:00-3:30

Department of Political Science 1013 General Classroom Building

Georgia State University Tel: 651-4841



The principal aim of this course is to achieve an advanced understanding of major theoretical, empirical, and substantive 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 North America. Readings will introduce a variety of approaches and methods employed in comparative political analysis. Among the topics covered by readings and discussions will be the following:

Regarding the last item in this list, the course provides analysis of the political and economic rationales for the European Union, evidence on the development of trade and growth in the EU, details of the Single Market program, analysis of convergence and disparities within the EU and prospects for EU enlargement by integration of Central European economies. Focus will be on integration theory and measurement and analysis of EU policy making illustrated with current issues such as Economic and Monetary Union and employment.


The following texts are available for purchase at the Park Place Bookstore:

Lane, Jan-Erik and Svante O. Ersson. 1996. European Politics: An Introduction. Sage.

Taylor, Paul. 1996. The European Union in the 1990s. Oxford University Press.

Holmes, John W. 1997. The United States and Europe after the Cold War : a new alliance? Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press.

Anderson, Christopher. 1995. Blaming the Government: Citizens and the Economy in Five European Democracies. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe.

Laver, Michael and Kenneth A. Shepsle. 1996. Making and Breaking Governments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Notes on Articles and Chapters: Additional readings will come from select journal articles and book chapters, which will be made available to you. Unless otherwise indicated, all required journal articles and book chapters are on reserve at Library South. Moreover, we may decide to distribute a copy of the following week's reading at each seminar session--allowing those who 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.


"Review" Papers: Students will write two discussion papers (each approximately 1250 words in length) during the course of the quarter. The review essays will raise a single or a series of theoretical or methodological questions or criticisms on the work being discussed for that particular week. Assignments will be staggered so that several essays will be prepared each week. Each essay is due by 3:30 Wednesday, the day before each seminar session. Copies are to be given at that time to me and should also be distributed to all remaining seminar members via e-mail. At the seminar session itself, all essay writers will be allocated 15-20 minutes to present their argument.

Research Paper: An original research paper addressing one of the areas emphasized in this seminar is required and due at the end of the quarter (Tuesday, March 17 at 5:00). We will discuss the specifics of this project early in the Quarter.

FYI: You should periodically check my web page for assignment updates, useful resources, and class materials.

Grade: The final seminar grade will be determined on the basis of the following weights:

Review Essays 20%

Participation 20%

Research Paper 35%

Final Exam 25%


Week 1 Introduction to European Politics and Political Economy

January 6 Introduction

January 8 History/Economics/Social Structure--Broad comparative dimensions

Week 2 Structuring Institutions: The Territorial Axis

January 13

January 15

Week 3 Structuring Interests: Parties and Party Systems

January 20

January 22

Week 4 Structuring Power: Making and Breaking Governments

January 27

January 29

Week 5 Politics, Economics and the Structure of Credit and Blame

February 3

February 5

Week 6 Public Sector Politics and the European Welfare State

February 10

February 12

Week 7 Integration and European Union Politics I

February 17

February 19

Week 8 Integration and European Union Politics II

February 24

February 26

Week 9 US-EU Relations

March 3

March 5

Week 10

March 10 No Class

March 12 Exam

Week 11

March 17 Research Papers due

Suggested (Supplemental) Readings:

Anderson, Perry. 1974. Lineages of the Absolutist State. London & New York: Verso.

Betz, Hans-Georg. 1994. Radical Right-Wing Populism in Western Europe. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Cossolotto, Matthew. 1995. The Almanac of European Politics 1995. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

Dalton, Russell J., and Manfred Kuechler. 1990. Challenging the Political Order: New Social and Political Movements in Western Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Downs, William M. 1998. Coalition Politics, Subnational Style. Multiparty Politics in Europe's Regional Parliaments. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

Keohane, Robert O., and Stanley Hoffmann, eds. 1991. The New European Community: Decisionmaking and Institutional Change. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Kesselman, Mark, et al. 1997. European Politics in Transition. 3rd ed. Lexington, MA and Toronto: D.C Heath.

Lewis-Beck, Michael S. 1990. Economics and Elections: The Major Western Democracies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Meny, Yves, with Andrew Knapp. 1993. Governments and Politics in Western Europe: Britain, France, Italy, Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rasmussen, Jorgen S., and Joel C. Moses. 1995. Major European Governments. 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Steiner, Jürg. 1998. European Democracies. Fourth Edition. White Plains, NY: Longman.

Tilly, Charles, ed. 1975. The Formation of National States in Western Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Useful Journals:
American Political Science Review

British Journal of Political Science

Comparative Political Studies

Comparative Politics

Electoral Studies

European Journal of Political Research

Foreign Affairs

German Politics


Government and Opposition

International Political Science Review

Journal of Common Market Studies

Journal of Comparative Economics

Parliamentary Affairs

Party Politics

Plural Societies

Revue française de science politique

Rivista de Estudios Politicos

Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica

Scandinavian Political Studies

Studies in Comparative Communism

West European Politics

World Politics