PSC/IR 258 Democratic Regimes

Political Science Field: Comparative Politics
International Relations Track: Governance of Nations (C)
This course is archived. It will not be offered again.

Gretchen Helmke
Spring 2008 ("W" Optional)

Course Syllabus

Why have some countries made a successful transition to democracy, while others have not? Why are some democracies more stable than others? Are some forms of democratic governance better than others at promoting stability or better governance? What are the trade-offs that different choices of democratic institutions entail? And how can countries that are already democratic improve the quality and effectiveness of their institutions? To answer these questions, this course offers a survey of the leading literature in comparative politics centered on the topic of democratization. The first part of the course will be devoted primarily to examining competing theories about the conditions and causes of the emergence and consolidation of democracy. The second part of the course examines theories about why different democratic institutions are chosen and how, once chosen, these institutions function. Among the topics addressed will be the merits of presidentialism versus parliamentary systems, the role of political parties, and various issues relating to questions of representation and accountability which affect the quality of democratic governance.