This module introduces students to central debates about the influence of different executive formats on democratic government. The course examines the differences between and within presidential, parliamentary and semi-presidential constitutions and examines their consequences for the quality of democracy and for policy outcomes. The course initially focuses on identifying the key institutions and processes that shape the behaviour and strategies of politicians in the executive, before moving on to consider the consequences of these for governance, policy-making and democratic stability. Throughout the central focus is on understanding the extent and the ways that formal political institutions may shape how politicians respond to citizen preferences, bargain with each other to resolve political conflict and choose policies. Students will be exposed to different ways of thinking about the impact of political institutions on politics, different ways of conceptualizing and measuring democratic performance and encouraged to think about how a broad range of other factors may interact with constitutional formats to shape outcomes. The approach used will be broadly comparative and will use case-specific and cross-national evidence from both developed and less developed democracies in all regions of the world.
This module appears in the following module collections.
150 hours including 22 lecture/seminar hours and 128 study hours
Method of assessment
50% coursework; 50% exam.
Cheibub, Jose Antonio. 2007. Presidentialism, parliamentarism, and democracy. Cambridge University Press.
Clark, William Roberts, Matt Golder, and Sona Nadenichek Golder. 2013. Principles of Comparative Politics. CQ Press
Strom, Kaare. 2003. Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies. Oxford; New York; Oxford University Press.
Tsebelis, George. 2002. Veto players: how political institutions work. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
A good knowledge of the theories and literature addressing the consequences of different executive formats and variation within these formats for democratic government.
The ability to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these theories with reference both to their theoretical coherence and empirical evidence.
Be able to draw upon a range of case specific and comparative evidence to support their arguments.
Be familiar with key problems in the empirical study of the effects of constitutional design.
Be able to identify different ways of conceptualizing and measuring different aspects of democratic performance and be able to consider the implications of these measures for our knowledge of the consequences of constitutional design.
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