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The Comparative Politics of Western Europe

V53 0510 Fall, 2010
Professor Martin Schain Silver 206
E-mail: T/Th 2:00-3:15 Tuesday/Thursday , 2:00- 3:15

Since the Second World War, Western Europe has developed from economic ruin and instability
to a union of wealthy and stable democracies, engaged in a historic process of political
unification. In this course we will analyze the process through which institutions of conflict
management were constructed in Western Europe. We will argue that processes of conflict
management in Europe developed in ways that were quite different from those in the United
States, and that consequently, Europe is indeed different in important ways from the United
States. We will first look at the large questions implied by this analysis, and then examine the
development of the political system in four countries (Britain, Germany, France and Italy), as
well as the development of a system of governance at the European level.

The reading for this course is taken from books on sale at the bookstore, books and articles on
reserve in Bobst Library, and articles on blackboard. Readings are by session.

Course Requirements:

There will be a mid-term and a final examination in this course. The mid-term, on November 4,
will count for 25% of your grade, and the final examination will count 50%. The final 25% will
be based on three 1-2 page short essays based on a comparison of an article from the New York
Times, and an article from The Economist, The Financial Times or any major European
publication of your choice. The short essay should compare an article in the NYT and the
European publication, each of which deals with the same issue in the same country or the EU.
The essays will be due on: October 19 (Britain and Germany), November 18 (France and Italy),
and December 7 (EU). Your brief essay should relate the news articles to material in the lectures
and/or readings. Papers can either be submitted in class, or sent to the TAs via e-mail.


Books to buy:

Almond, Dalton and Powell, Jr., European Politics Today, 4
Edition (New York: Longman,
Russell J. Dalton, Citizen Politics, 5
Edition (New York: Seven Bridges Press, 2008)

In addition, there will be readings from books on reserve as indicated:

Almond and Verba, The Civic Culture Revisited (Boston: Little Brown, 1980)
Anderson, German Unification and the Union of Europe (New York: Cambridge, 1999)
Brzel and Cichowski, The State of the European Union, Vol. 6 (New York: Oxford, 2003)
Clark and Hoffmann-Martinot, The New Political Culture (Boulder: Westview Press, 1998)
Faucher-King and Le Gals, The New Labour Experiment: Change and Reform Under Blair and
Brown (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010)
Hellman, Italy, in Kesselman, Krieger et al, European Politics in Transition 6
Ed. (New
York: Houghton Mifflin Co, 2010)
Howeth and Keeler, Defending Europe (New York: Palgrave, 2003)
Lichtheim, The New Europe: Today and Tomorrow, Second Edition, (New York: Praeger, 1965)
McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly, Dynamics of Contention (New York: Cambridge, 2001)
Menon, Europe: The State of the Union (London: Atlantic, 2008)
Merkl, The Origins of the West German Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965)
Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966)
Moravcsik, The Choice for Europe (New York; Cornell University Press, 1998)
Pollack, Jacobs, Mller and Pickel, Political Culture in Post-Communist Europe (Burlington:
Ashgate, 2003)
Reutter, Germany on the Road to Normalcy (New York: Palgrave, 2004)
Sandholtz and Sweet, European Integration and Supranational Governance (New York: Oxford,

Most of these readings have been placed on the blackboard site for the course.

Students are expected to complete the assigned readings before each class, and students are
expected to attend each class. Please keep in mind the following guidelines for your reading:

(a) What is/are the central question(s) addressed by the author(s)?
(b) What, if any, hypotheses are explored in this research?
(c) What are the main argument(s) developed by the author(s)?
(d) On the basis of what kinds of research and evidence have the authors developed their studies?
(e) What do you see as the strengths and shortcomings of this research?
(f) What conclusions would you reach about the subject for this week on the basis of these

Reading (*indicates reading is on blackboard)

I. The Problem (September 7, 9, 14, 16, 21)

In this section we will analyze the construction and evolution of democratic government in
Western Europe since the Second World War. We will begin with an analysis of a series of
problems that scholars and journalists have posed about democracy in Western Europe, and
conclude with an analysis of the relationship between political stability and the construction of

1. Introductory session: What is Europe? Looking at maps.
2. The Transatlantic problem: From Mars and Venus to Venus and Mars: why is Europe
different? (Req: Kagan; Huntington- FA-93; Washingtons Farewell Address. Recommended:
Daalder and Kagan 2*)
3. The problem of stability and democracy: representation, the mixed economy and the
construction of political stability (EPT/1, 3 and 4)
4. The problem of culture and democracy (EPT/2; Dalton/1, 2, 5, 6)
5. Europe, the trans-Atlantic connection and the Cold War the construction of post-war stability
(Lichtheim/ Chapters I and II*)

II. Britain as the model of stability (September 23, 28, 30, October 5)

In the literature on comparative European politics, the British political system has generally been
accepted as the model against which other systems should be compared. In this section, we
analyze and evaluate the British model, as well as its usefulness for purposes of comparison.
Please read EPT/5 at the beginning of this section, and then the specific readings for each
session, as indicated.

6. Stability and instability in post-war Britain (EPT, pp. 81-105; Barrington Moore Jr. Ch7*)
7. The key of the party system: the party model in comparative perspective (Dalton/7-8, 11;
8. Understanding institutional change (EPT, pp. 108-134; Faucher-King/Le Gals: Chs.
9. Europe as the problem (Moravcvsik/pp. 164-76*)

III. German exceptionalism (October 7, 12, 14, 19)

Certainly the most problematic political system in Western Europe has been the German system.
Germany was divided after the Second World War, and for at least two decades, confidence in
democratic development in German was low. In this section, we will analyze the specific
exceptionalism of German democracy, as well as the development of the political system since
the war.

Please read EPT/7 at the beginning of this section, and then the specific readings for each
session, as indicated.

10. Divided Germany and the post-war problem: federalism and nation-building old-style
(Merkl, Ch. 1*; EPT pp. 179-193)
11. Building legitimacy: the dilemma of political culture (Civic Culture Revisited/ VII*; Pollack-
Political Culture/12*; EPT, pp. 193-201; Recommended: Reuter*)
12. The end of division and the strength of the party system (EPT, 201-225)
13. Europe as the solution (Anderson, German Unification and the Union of Europe/1&2*)

IV. French exceptionalism (October 21, 26, 28, November 2)

France too, has been regarded as exceptional, not so much in terms of confidence in
democratic development, but in terms of its long history of regime (and democratic) instability.
In this section, we examine how a strong and stable democratic system was constructed under the
Fifth Republic.

14. The French post-war problem: the French civil war and Republican legitimacy (EPT, pp.
15. Parties and the construction of legitimacy party realignment (Dalton/9-10; Recommended:
Clark and Hoffmann-Inglehart/2*; EPT, pp. 145-162)
16. Stable institutions and the politics of protest (Dalton/3-4; EPT, pp. 162-173)
17. Europe and stability (Moravczik/ pp. 159-61; 173-174*)


V. Italian exceptionalism (November 9, 11, 16, 18)

The Italian system has been viewed as exceptional for still other reasons. In many ways, the
Italian system has been seen as too stable, or too rigid, pre-modern and corrupt, but only weakly
supported among mass publics. Moreover, after judicial investigations in the early 1990s, a large
number of post-war political leaders were either jailed or fled the country. Since then, a new
pattern of politics has emerged in fits and starts. In this chapter, we will examine the fall and rise
of democratic government in Italy, as well as the dynamics that have driven these changes.

Please read the sections in Hellman as indicated:

19. The Italian post-war problem: the Republic and the problem of political culture (Civic
Culture Revisited/VIII*; Hellman, Ch. 16-17*)
20/21. The birth, death and re-emergence of the party state (Hellman, Chs. 18-19*)
22. Berlusconi: The policy challenges and Europe (Hellman, Ch. 20*)

VI. The emergence of European governance (November 23, 30; December 2)

The development of European integration has been related to the development of democratic
stability in Western Europe. The process it is now argued has now taken on a life of its own,
and has emerged as the hub of a system of EU governance, if not government. In this section,
we examine how EU governance links what happens in Brussels and Strasbourg with what
happens at the level of EU-25.

23. Europe: Why does Europe integrate? (Menon, Europe: The State of the Union, (Intro., Chs. 1
and 2*)
24. Europe from the solution to an end in itself: How does Europe integrate? ( EPT 12;
Recommended: Sweet-Sandholtz, European Integration, Ch. 1; DEP/1 and14*)
25. Menon, (Chs. 7 and Conclusion*)

VII. Of Mars and Venus again ( December 7, 9, 14)

In this section we come back to a transatlantic comparison. First we look at the welfare state,
and how its role has changed on both sides of the Atlantic, then the question of war and peace,
and the differing perspectives of Europeans and Americans. Finally, we look at the question of
interdependence, and how this relates to transatlantic relations.

26. The welfare state in Europe and the US: what is the issue? (DEP/2*)
27. The warfare state in Europe and the US: what is the problem?(Howeth-Keeler/1*)
28. The state of the economy in Europe and the US: are we interdependent? (Quinlan*)

The date of the final examination will be announced