85337 - Parties and Democracy

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Piero Ignazi

  • Credits 8

  • SSD SPS/04

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Course Timetable from Feb 18, 2019 to May 22, 2019

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course analyses the evolution of political parties in the advanced democracies .The course will offer an overview of the theories and empirical analyses on the state of affair of political parties. Students should be able to understand and evaluate which innovations are more in tune with the challenges deriving from a declining confidence in the political institutions and, above all, political parties.

Course contents

The course is articulated in three parts.

The first part deals with the question of the role of parties in the democratic systems.

The second part investigates the organizational changes within parties: "openness" to members and sympathizers, acquisition of financial resources from the state, extension of patronage personalization, crisis of membership, growing room for the media and internet. All these aspects will be treated both in theoretical terms and with reference to the mainstream European parties and to the most innovative ones (Podemos, République En Marche, M5S, Piraten, PVV, and others).

The third part will deal with the question of the democratic challenges inherent the spreading of an anti-party sentiment, discussing the question of party legitimacy.


Students regularly in class (at least ¾ of lessons):

The texts to be assigned each time by the professor any week.


Students not in class:

W. Cross and R.Katz (eds). The Challenges of intra-party democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

W. Cross and J.-B. Pilet (eds), The Politics of Party Leadership. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, only chapters 1, 2 e 10.

P. Ignazi. Party and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

P. Mair. Ruling the Void. London:Verso, 2013.

Van Biezen I.C. & Kopecky P. 'The cartel party and the state: Party–state linkages in European democracies', Party Politics, 2014, 20(2): 170-182t

Teaching methods

Lecture by the professor the first period, then all students will discuss collectively in class the text(s) assigned each time. Each student have to read the text assigned each time, and participate in the discussion.

Assessment methods

Students regularly attending class (i.e. 3/4 of the classes) and actively participating in the discussions will receive their vote without any further test.

Students which have attended regularly but not active in the discussions, will have to pass an oral exam or present a paper on a reduced program, defined with the professor.

Students not attending regularly will have to pass a written examination of two hours ( 4 or 5 open questions) on the texts indicated for the not attending students.

Office hours

See the website of Piero Ignazi