74783 - Citzens, Elections, Parties

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

This course focuses on the analysis of political behaviours and their effects on the process of representation, also in comparative perspective. It does so by paying attention to eelections and the main actors of modern democracies, that is citizns and political parties. By the end of classes students: - know the basic terms of the political science debate on the functions of parties, electoral behaviour, electoral campaigns in contemporary democracies; - know the developments and current configurations of the main democratic political systems; - is able to plan and realise simple empirical research works on political parties, elctoral campaigns, political participation.

Course contents

This course is divided into two parts. In the first classes, the main aspects of the theoretical debate on representative democracy, its origin, effects and variants are presented. A particular emphasis will be placed on the current challenges and difficulties, as indicated also by the emergence and success of “populist” parties. Afterwards, this theoretical discourse will be translated into tools for empirical research. To that purpose, a dataset will be presented to students on the issues of support to representative institutions, the different forms of political participation, their real and perceived efficacy. Students will then be introduced to univariate and bivariate data analysis techniques, and related softwares and trained to interpret and visualize the results of their analyses.


For students recognized as “frequentanti” a detailed syllabus will be circulated at the beginning of classes.


For students not recognized as frequentanti the exam will be based on the following texts:

- R. Dahl Sulla democrazia, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2010 (or any previous edition).

- Y. Mény and Y. Surel Populismo e democrazia, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2001.

- D. Albertazzi e D. McDonnell (eds.) “Twenty-First Century Populism”, Houndmills, Palgrave, 2008, chapters 1-4.

- C. Mudde and C.R. Kaltwasser, Populism, in The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies, edited by M. Freeden and M. Stears, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.

- C. Mudde and C.R. Kaltwasser, Exclusionary vs. Inclusionary Populism: Comparing Contemporary Europe and Latin America, in «Government & Opposition», vol. 48, n. 2, 2013, pp. 147-174.

- P. Mair, Political Opposition and the European Union, in «Government & Opposition» vol. 42, n. 1, 2007, pp. 1-17.

Teaching methods

Classes will be based both on traditional lectures and seminars. An active participation of students to class activities is required, as well as a constant presence. For that purpose, signatures will be collected in class from time to time. In order to be recognized as “frequentanti” students must be present at not less than 75% of classes and actively participate to the reseach work.

Assessment methods

Students not recognized as “frequentanti” will be evaluated through 1) an oral exam on the texts listed above; 2) a paper (about 3.000 words) focusing on the ideological profile, the electoral and organizational evolution, governmental participation of a European “populist” party. The paper has to be handed out not later than a week before the day in which the oral exam will be taken. Students are requested to make contact with the instructor well in advance.

Students recognised as frequentanti will be evaluated through 1) a written exam on the theoretical part of the course and 2) a paper based on the empirical research developed in the second part of the course.

Teaching tools

Overhead projector, PC

Office hours

See the website of Filippo Tronconi