17.561 | Fall 2020 | Undergraduate

European Politics

Readings and Videos

[B] = Bowman, John R. Capitalisms Compared: Welfare, Work, and Business. CQ Press, 2013. ISBN: 9781452259024. 

[D] = Driver, Stephen. Understanding British Party Politics. Polity, 2011. ISBN: 9780745640785. 

[L] = Lijphart, Arend. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. 2nd ed. Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780300172027. 

[R] = Reitan, Earl A. The Thatcher Revolution: Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, and the Transformation of Modern Britain. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. ISBN: 9780742522022.

1 Introduction; Overview of Course No readings or videos assigned
2 Historical Antecedents and Contemporary Varieties of Capitalist Democracies


On voting systems:

First Past the Post vs. Proportional Representation.” YouTube.

On European parties generally:

European Political Parties EXPLAINED.” YouTube.


[L] Chapter 1: Introduction.  [Preview with Google Books]

[L] Chapter 2: The Westminster Model of Democracy. [Preview with Google Books]

[L] Chapter 3: The Consensus Model of Democracy. [Preview with Google Books]

Norris, Pippa. “Choosing Electoral Systems: Proportional, Majoritarian, and Mixed Systems.” International Political Science Review 18, no.3 (1997): 297–312.

Kemp, Tom. “British and European Industrialization.” Chapter 1 in Industrialization in Nineteenth-Century Europe. 2nd ed. Routledge, 1985. ISBN: 9780582493841. [Preview with Google Books]

 ———. “The Rise of Industrial Germany.” Chapter 4 in Industrialization in Nineteenth-Century Europe. 2nd ed. Routledge, 1985. ISBN: 9780582493841. 

Berman, Sheri. “Introduction.” Chapter 1 in The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Making of Europe’s Twentieth Century. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780521521109. [Preview with Google Books]

Come to class ready to discuss these discussion questions:

  1. Lijphart distinguishes between majoritarian and consensus democracies. What might you see as the principal advantages and disadvantages of each of these two broad models? What do you think of his argument (p.7) that “consensus democracy may be considered more democratic than majoritarian in most respects”?
  2. Majoritarian democracies are associated with first-past-the-post electoral systems, while consensus democracies are associated with proportional representation. What accounts for these affinities? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of each of these electoral systems? What do each of these systems do well, and not so well?
  3. What are the major differences Kemp identifies between the industrialization in Britain and in Germany?
  4. Industrialization requires a labor force, which in turn means moving people off the land and into cities and factories. What are the core differences between how this process played out in Britain and Germany?
  5. What does Kemp mean when he refers to Germany’s benefitting from its “latecomer status”?
  6. What is the difference between socialism and social democracy?

3 Concepts and Comparisons: Varieties of Capitalism and Welfare Regimes


On “Anglo – Saxon capitalism”: 

What is Anglo – Saxon Capitalism?” YouTube.

On German capitalism:

How Does German Economy Compare to United States Economy?” YouTube.

Two views of Scandinavian Social democracy (one from obvious fans, the other from the representative of a conservative think tank):

American Capitalism vs. Swedish Socialism? You Decide.” YouTube.

How Sweden Transformed Into a Capitalist Economy.” YouTube.


[B] Chapter 1: Introduction. [Preview with Google Books]

Hall, Peter A., and David Soskice. “An Introduction to Varieties of Capitalism.” Chapter 1 in Debating Varieties of Capitalism: A Reader. Edited by Bob Hancké. Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780199569663. [Preview with Google Books]

Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. “The Three Political Economies of the Welfare State.” Chapter 1 in The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton University Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780691028576. 

Iversen, Torben, and John D. Stephens. “Partisan Politics, the Welfare State, and Three Worlds of Human Capital Formation.” Comparative Political Studies 41, no. 4–5 (2008): 600–637.

Come prepared to discuss the discuss these questions (and make sure you are able to identify all the terms at the end of the Bowman chapter):

  1. Hall and Soskice distinguish liberal from coordinated market economies. What are the major differences? What is comparative institutional advantage, in their argument? What are the comparative strengths of each of the two models they identify? What are they good at, what are they bad at?
  2. Esping Andersen’s liberal welfare regime type is associated especially with the “liberal market economies” (as defined by Hall/Soskice), and his “Christian continental” and “Social Democratic” welfare regimes are associated with Lijphart’s “consensus” model. Why might that be?
  3. Why might different education systems “go with” different varieties of capitalism? How might these different education systems contribute to outcomes such as competitiveness? Inequality?

4 Britain I: Political Institutions


Contrasts between the American and British Political Systems.

Heffernan, Richard. “Political Parties.” Chapter 24 in The Oxford Handbook of British Politics. Edited by Matthew Flinders, Andrew Gamble, Colin Hay, and Michael Kenny. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780199604449. 

Two articles from The Economist on the House of Lords:

Flinders, Matthew. “Majoritarian Democracy in Britain: New Labour and the Constitution.” West European Politics 28, no. 1 (2005): 61–93.

McTague, Tom. “Britain’s Political Chaos Shows Everything Is Okay.” The Atlantic, September 4, 2019.

Wilson, Graham K. “Government and Politics in Britain.” Chapter 3 in Business and Politics: A Comparative Introduction. 3rd ed. Palgrave, 2002. ISBN: 9780333962053. 

Longstreth, Frank. “The City, Industry and the State.” Chapter 5 in State and Economy in Contemporary Capitalism. Edited by Colin Crouch. Palgrave Macmillan, 1979, pp. 160–73. ISBN: 9780312756017. 

Shaxson, Nicholas.“The Finance Curse: How the Outsized Power of the City of London Makes Britain Poorer,” The Guardian, October 5, 2018.

5 Britain II: Politics and Political Economy


Thatcher. A Very British Revolution, Episode 2: Power.” Dailymotion. (Start at about 16 mins.)


[D] Chapter 3: The Conservative Party Post-Thatcherism. [Preview with Google Books]

[D] Chapter 4: ‘New Labour’ and the Labour Party. [Preview with Google Books]

[D] Chapter 5: The Liberal Democrats: From Protest to Power. 

[R] Chapter 2: The Beginnings of Thatcherism, 1979–1983. [Preview with Google Books]

[R] Chapter 3: The Heyday of Thatcherism, 1983–1987. [Preview with Google Books]

[R] Chapter 4: The Fall of Margaret Thatcher, 1987–1990. [Preview with Google Books]

[R] Chapter 8: The Triumph of ‘New Labour,’ 1994–1997. [Preview with Google Books]

6 Britain III: Contemporary Party Dynamics and Brexit


Bagehot: Could Ed Davey Lead a Lib Dem Revival?The Economist, September 3, 2020.

Glennerster, Howard. “Welfare Reform.” Chapter 37 in The Oxford Handbook of British Politics. Edited by Matthew Flinders, Andrew Gamble, Colin Hay, and Michael Kenny. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780199604449. (Read section 37.3 only.) 

Gingrich, Jane, and Desmond King. “Americanizing Brexit Britain’s Welfare State?Political Quarterly 90, no. 1 (2019): 89–98.

Kelly, Gavin, and Nick Pearce. “Introduction: Brexit and the Future of the British Model of Democratic Capitalism.” Political Quarterly 90, issue S2 (2019): 1–11.

“Special Topic: Populism and Brexit.” (PDF - 2.5MB) Comparative Politics Newsletter 26, no. 2 (2016): 107–23.

Usherwood, Simon. “Shooting the Fox? UKIP’s Populism in the Post-Brexit Era.” (PDF - 1.4MB) West European Politics 42, no. 6 (2019): 1209–29.

Barry, Ellen and Stephen Castle. “Amid Parliament’s Brexit Rebellion, a Tectonic Shift in How Britain is Governed,” New York Times, January 15, 2019.

The Next Crisis: The Brexit Referendum and the British Constitution.” The Economist, May 30, 2019.

Bagehot: Whatever the Question, the Answer is Germany.” The Economist, August 29, 2020.

7 Germany I: Politics and Political Institutions


Katzenstein, Peter J. “The Taming of Power: West Germany’s Semisovereign State.” Chapter 1 in Policy and Politics in West Germany: The Growth of a Semisovereign State. Temple University Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780877222637.

Lees, Charles. “Christian Democracy Is Dead; Long Live the Union Parties: Explaining CDU/CSU Dominance within the German Party System.” German Politics 22, no. 1–2 (2013): 64–81.

Frankland, E. Gene. “Federal Republic of Germany: ‘Die Grünen’.” Chapter 5 in New Politics in Western Europe: The Rise and Success of Green Parties and Alternative Lists. Edited by Ferdinand Müller-Rommel. Routledge, 2019. ISBN: 9780367014438.

Germany’s Political Parties — What You Need to Know.” Deutsche Welle.

Poguntke, Thomas. “The German Party System: Eternal Crisis?German Politics 10, no. 2 (2001): 37–50.

Hough, Dan, and Emil Kirchner. “Germany at 60: Stability and Success, Problems and Challenges.” German Politics 19, no. 1 (2010): 1–8.

Europe’s Grown-Up: How Angela Merkel is Changing, and Not Changing, Germany.” The Economist, September 9, 2017.

8 Germany II: Political Economy


Power Sharing at Daimler-Benz. Color, 37 mins. 1994.

Germany’s training system:

Dual VET – Vocational Education and Training in Germany (English).” YouTube. (Somewhat promotional but describes the basic system.)


[B] Chapter 5: The Labor Market. [Preview with Google Books]

Wilson, Graham K. “The Past, Present and Future of Neocorporatism.” Chapter 5 in Business and Politics: A Comparative Introduction. 3rd ed. Palgrave, 2002. ISBN: 9780333962053. 

Page, Rebecca. “Codetermination in Germany – A Beginners’ Guide. 5. überarbeitete Auflage.” (PDF - 1.5MB) Arbeitspapier, No. 33. 2011. (Read pp. 10–25 only.)

Bruegel, Bennet Berger, and Elena Vaccarino. “Blog Post: Codetermination in Germany – A Role Model for the UK and the US?,” Bruegel Newsletter, October 13, 2016.

9 Germany III: Contemporary Politics and Party Dynamics


“The Fall of the Wall.” PBS.


Nature v Nurture: Why East and West German Women Still Work Vastly Different Hours.” The Economist, October 3, 2020.

Kluth, Andreas. “The Changing Political Party Landscape in Germany.” May 9, 2019. American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.

Rensmann, Lars. “Radical Right-Wing Populists in Parliament: Examining the Alternative for Germany in European Context.” German Politics and Society 36, no. 3 (2018): 41–73.

Patton, David F. “The Left Party at Six: The PDS–WASG Merger in Comparative Perspective.” German Politics 22, no. 3 (2013): 219–34.

Rothstein, Sidney A., and Tobias Schulze-Cleven. “Germany After the Social Democratic Century: The Political Economy of Imbalance.” German Politics 29, no. 3 (2020): 297–318.

MacGillis, Alec. “How Germany Saved Its Workforce from Unemployment While Spending Less Per Person Than the US,” ProPublica, June 3, 2020.

10 Scandinavia I: Swedish Social Democracy


How Sweden Balances High Taxes And Growth.” YouTube.


Steinmo, Sven. “Sweden: The Evolution of a Bumble Bee.” Chapter 2 in The Evolution of Modern States: Sweden, Japan, and the United States. Cambridge University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780521145466. [Preview with Google Books]

Einhorn, Eric S., and John Logue. “Can Welfare States Be Sustained in a Global Economy? Lessons from Scandinavia.” Political Science Quarterly 125, no. 1 (2010): 1–29.

Blanc-Noel, Nathalie. “Resolving the Dilemma between Equality and Liberty: The Swedish Political System.” Eastern Journal of European Studies 4, no. 1 (2013): 25–40.

Rydgren, Jens, and Sara van der Meiden. “The Radical Right and the End of Swedish Exceptionalism.” (PDF) European Political Science 18 (2019): 439–55.

11 Scandinavia II: Swedish Politics and Political Economy


Inside Sweden’s Silicon Valley.” YouTube.


[B] Chapter 4: Family Policy. [Preview with Google Books]

Pontusson, Jonas. “Once Again A Model? Nordic Social Democracy in a Globalized World.” In What’s Left of the Left: Democrats and Social Democrats in Challenging Times. Edited by James Cronin, George Ross, and James Shoch. Duke University Press Books, 2011. ISBN: 9780822350798. 

L.S. “Start-Ups in Sweden: Standing Out without Showing It.” The Economist, May 31, 2013.

The Wallenbergs: Sweden’s Enduring Business Dynasty.” The Economist, October 12, 2006.

Goodman, Peter S. “The Robots Are Coming, and Sweden Is Fine,” New York Times, December 27, 2017.

Heyman, Fredrik, Pehr-Johan Norbäck, and Lars Persson. “How Sweden Became More Entrepreneurial than the US.” VoxEU. August 12, 2019.

Thelen, Kathleen. “Transitions to the Knowledge Economy in Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands.” (PDF) Comparative Politics 51, no. 2 (2019): 295–315.

12 Scandinavia III: The Danish Variant on the Nordic Model


Former (conservative) Danish PM explains the Nordic model:

Nordic Solutions and Challenges – A Danish Perspective.” YouTube.

How Denmark Aims to Run on Clean Energy.” YouTube.


Daemmrich, Arthur, and Thomas Bredgaard. “The Welfare State as an Investment Strategy: Denmark’s Flexicurity Policies.” Chapter 7 in The Oxford Handbook of Offshoring and Global Employment. Edited by Ashok Bardhan, Dwight M. Jaffee, and Cynthia A. Kroll. Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780199765904. 

Farrell, Henry. “Bernie Sanders Says Denmark Is Socialist. Forbes Magazine Says It’s the Most Business Friendly Country. Who’s Right?,” (PDF) Washington Post, November 11, 2015.

Two very different responses to COVID-19:

13 Whither Europe?


Right-wing Populists and the EU | DW Documentary.” YouTube.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2020
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments