Radicalization Trends in Party Politics

Course NameRadicalization Trends in Party Politics
Course CodePOL303 / POL503
Description‘Political parties are the principal actors of a representative democracy. Able to put candidates in legislative or governmental positions, parties are traditionally known to have a certain dual standing between the state and civil society. However, recent research have introduced a new debate on the meaning of a political party: Some have argued that political parties no more fulfill their function of representing the society and have turned into semi-state actors. Some others, on the contrary, have shown that parties still possess mass organizational features. This course aims to combine this new debate on political parties with the rising radicalization trends observed in party politics across old, new and developing democracies. Is radicalization connected with the changing meaning of a political party as some scholars suggest? If not, why do some mainstream parties drop their centrist positions and radicalize? Why do the radical right wing parties gain electoral power as opposed to centrist parties in some contexts, yet lose in others? What explains the rise of populist parties as a new party family that contradicts the established party ideologies like conservatism, liberalism and socialism? What role do the institutional, social and organizational origins of parties play in these recent developments? What role does the party system have? In what way do the radical parties—left or right—affect the current party system and politics? The empirical basis of the course will be cases selected from democracies in the Western, Central and Eastern Europe as well as from developing democracies in the Middle East and East Asia.
Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students will be able to:
– Apply an analytical perspective on the functions, roles and internal dynamics of political parties through relevant theories;
– Question the meaning of radicalization of parties and party systems;
– Analyze how radicalization of party politics relates to the performance of party democracies in a comparative way;
– Construct academic, critical arguments, organize and clarify thoughts in a written form and apply rules of citation via writing three response papers and an academic paper at the end of the course;
– Successfully hold an academic discussion, make oral presentations and participate in scholarly debates.
SchoolSchool of International Relations and Diplomacy (IRD)
LevelBachelor / Master
Number of credits (US / ECTS)3 US / 6 ECTS