GOVT-543 Political Parties in the Developing World
Fall for 2017-2018
Political parties are a fundamental institution of democratic politics, and one of the most frequently studied in contemporary political science. Yet, both normative theory and empirical analysis have focused disproportionately on a handful of well-known parties in the United States and Western Europe to the neglect of the much broader variety of political parties across the globe, and their variant roles in these contexts. In many instances, rather than acting as effective institutions of representation and democracy, political parties are mechanisms of social control, division, and even violence. It is therefore essential for students of democracy to understand how political parties emerge and function in the developing and non-Western world.
This course is comparative in nature, focusing on the experiences of political parties in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Post-Communist states, and the Middle East. The first part of the course looks at broader theories of parties and party systems. We will overview models of party behavior rooted in Western contexts, investigate the intersection of social cleavage and electoral institutions, and look at ways of conceptualizing party systems and individual party types. The second part of the class looks at forms of linkage that predominate in non-Western contexts: clientelism, patronage, and populism. However, we will also look at ways that parties have evolved from these forms of linkage to form more programmatic ties with voters. The third part of the course is dedicated to an investigation of specific topics in the study of non-Western parties: ethnic parties, authoritarian parties, post-communist parties, and religious parties. During this session we will also discuss the predicament of opposition parties in non-democratic settings and delve into ways of empowering parties to further the goals of better democracy and governance.
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