The course West European Comparative Politics will concentrate on the analysis of the pursuits of democracy in Western Europe. Firstly, the conception of Europe will be explored in its historical perspective and different perceptions: territorial, political, spiritual, cultural etc. Secondly, the characterizing social cleavages of Europe will be introduced: territorial, economic, religious, national, ethnic etc. Furthermore, we will discuss how these cleavages get expressed in the formation of different social interests and lead to the organization of interests groups, political parties and NGOs. Thirdly, turning towards the institutional structures of West European parliamentary democracies, we will address the existence of political party systems, as well as the executive and legislative powers represented by government and parliament. Fourthly, we will explore the rules and outcomes of different electoral systems, which ensure regular rotation of political elites at power – however, under different principles. Finally, we will assess the enrichment of the classical models of government in Western Europe, which have in the last 20 years been supplemented by additional players participating in the decision making processes on different levels (local, regional, national and European) – leading to new political conceptualization of ‘governance’. Also, while European states remain core units of European integration, they are also influenced by the EU, leading to their Europeanization. The political systems of Great Britain, France and Germany as case studies will be examined. Special attention will be devoted to the emergence of the political system of the Czech Republic as a representative of new member states of the EU. The new challenges facing Western Europe, such as globalization, financial crisis, continuing European integration, regionalization, restructuring of social welfare systems and the issues of identity, will be discussed.
- Teacher: Lenka Rovná