Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Political Parties in Europe

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT European Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit offers students the possibility to evaluate political institutions and understand why political parties are central to the democratic life of political systems. In this unit, students will analyse the role of political parties in Europe to understand why they differ in structure, functions, policy preferences and performance. Within the diverse landscape of European political parties, this unit will also provide an in-depth evaluation on the emergence, evolution and functioning of EU-level political parties and party groups and how they inform the politics of the European Union.

This study-unit is made of four interrelated components. The first part analyses the cleavages around which European parties emerged. The second part analyses the main European party families, as well parties and party systems of selected European countries. The third part focuses on how parties compete for votes and to affect public policies. The fourth part analyses EU-level political parties, focusing both on their interactions with domestic parties and their behaviour in the European Parliament.

Study-unit Aims:

The objective of the study-unit is to provide students with a solid theoretical and empirical background to understand the basic aspects of the politics of political parties. The unit will provide students with the tools to understand the history, functions and interactions of European political parties. Special emphasis will be put on EU political parties, focusing on their role and behaviour in the European Parliament as well as on their relations with domestic party families.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Define the main European political cleavages, parties and party systems;
- Identify the similarities and differences among European and EU parties;
- Describe the structure, function, and behaviour of European parties;
- Assess the performance of European and EU political parties.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Explain the main features of European and EU political parties;
- Critically assess the performance and actions of European and EU political parties;
- Accurately analyse the way European and EU parties compete with each other to increase their electoral support and influence in public policy decisions.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Text

- Della Porta, D., Fernandez, J., Kouki, H., & Mosca, L. (2017). Movement parties against austerity: John Wiley & Sons.
- Gunther, R., Montero, J. R., & Linz, J. (2002). Political parties: old concepts and new challenges: OUP Oxford.
- Hix, S., Noury, A. G., & Roland, G. (2007). Democratic politics in the European Parliament: Cambridge University Press.
- Katz, R. S., & Crotty, W. J. (2006). Handbook of party politics: Sage.
- Ware, A. (1995). Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Supplementery Text

- McNair, B. (2017). An introduction to political communication: Routledge.
- Richards, S. (2017). The Rise of the Outsiders: How Mainstream Politics Lost Its Way: Atlantic Books.
-Van der Brug, W., & Vreese, C. H. (2016). (Un) intended Consequences of EU Parliamentary Elections: Oxford University Press.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (15 Minutes) SEM1 No 25%
Project SEM1 Yes 75%

LECTURER/S Jean Claude Cachia

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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.