Those who know only one country know no country.”
Seymour Martin Lipset
it or not, we can’t escape politics. We experience politics in action,
for example, in international negotiations, government policy choices,
our workplace, and even in our own families. As
a branch of Political Science, comparative politics attempts to explain
the political world: how political system across the world are
organized, how they affect the lives of their citizens, and how they
change. With its long history,
comparative politics has covered many different topics. Political
systems and our study of them have both evolved dramatically over time.
Despite that progress, political scientists who study comparative
politics have not been able to settle on a coherent and comprehensive
presentation of their discipline or the sort of agreed upon repertoire
of methods for advancing it. Instead, there exists a variety of
theories and methods, which often seem to be mutually incoherent and in
conflict with one other. However, for want of better, we may consider
them as an intellectual toolkit for understanding the contemporary
world. During the course we make an effort to explore the formal,
public sphere of politics and power relations through a systematic
study and comparison of types of government and political systems. The
goal of the comparative method is to identify the factors and
categories of analysis to effectively compare and contrast different
political phenomena. Using the comparative method, we can tackle
broader, more complicated questions like these: Are certain forms of
representative democracy more effective than others? Why are some
countries extremely prosperous, while others are extremely poor?
How does the degree of authoritarian control by a government drive
economic development? Does culture impact on the quality of
course proceeds as follows:
- Unit I introduces basic concepts in social
science, comparative political theory, and methodology.
- Unit II
examines modern state, political regimes including transitions.
- Unit III focus on polity, the system of social
organization centred on the machinery of government.
- Unit IV deals with some economic and cultural factors that
certainly shape a political regime, and they often decline it, what is
more, sometimes result in its fall.
Unit I: The Methodological Core of Comparative Politics
What is comparative politics?
are the main approaches to study of politics as an acedamic discipline?
What roles do concepts, models and theories play in political analysis?
What is actually comparative politics?
2. Major Techniques
in Comparative Politics
to compare? Comparative methods: case studies and
Unit II: Governmental Systems
theories of the state. What are the main roles of a modern
Case-study discussion: Somalia
Democratic Political Regimes
What are the major
regimes of the modern world? What is democracy? How can one
measure democracy? Which government systems more democratic, or more
Case-study discussion: UK, USA, German, and French
Non-Democratic Political Regimes
What is autocracy?
Why do people support or choose authoritarian regime voluntarily? Why
do autocracies have elections?
Case-study discussion: Russian, China, and Iran
Political Transition: Regime Change
What lead a country
to democratization? What causes autocratization? What makes a country
to swing between two regime types?
Case-study discussion: South
Africa, Modes of democratic transitions in Latin America and
Eastern Europe, Weimar Republic, Iran, and Hungary
*** Midterm Exam ***
Unit III: Making and Breaking Governements
Legislature and the Executive
are the main functions of assemblies? How are assemblies organized?
What are the essential determinants of parlamentary power? What are the principal functions of
political executives? What are the main
forms of goverments? The
Politics of Leadership.
decentralization strengthen or
weaken good governance? What should
be centralised and what decentralised
to lower levels of government? How do we ensure that
the resulting system is as efficient and as democratic as possible?
Representation, Elections and Voting
representation? How can representation be achieved in practice? Why
different electoral system? Are elections democratic/fair? Does
reflect the voice of the majority? What are the features of good
electoral system? How can voting behaviour be explained?
Political Parties and Party Systems
What is a political
How can parties be classified? What kinds of party system are there?
How does the party system shape the broader political process?
Unit IV: Economics and Culture as Shaping Factors of
The Economic Determinants of Democracy and Dictatorship
drives economic growth? Does regime type matter? Why the richest
countries are democracies? Why
some authoritarian countries are wealthy?
National Identity. Groups, Interests and Movements
How important is
ethnicity, relgion, political attitudes in modern politics?
What are the interest groups, and what different forms do they take?
Why have new social movements emerged, and what is their broader
Notes József Zoltán Málik: Comparative Politics. Budapest: ELTE, 2016.
- Caramani, D. (ed.): Comparative Politics. Oxford University
- Clark, W., Golder, M., Golder, S.: Principles
of Comparative Politics. Sage, 2013.
- Hague, R. and Harrop, M.: Comparative Government and Politics.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
- Newton, K. and van Deth, J.:
Foundations of Comparative Politics. Cambridge
University Press, 2010.
- O’Neil, P., Fields, C., and Share, D.: Cases in Comparative
Politics. W. W. Norton, 2012.
will be two exams: a midterm and a final examination.
The midterm exam will be an essay question, the final exam will consist
of short-answer questions covering the entire range of material. They
will be as homeworks what you need to write and submit them within
1 week. The
weights of both examinations are equal in the final grade. Late
homeworks and team works are not accepted.
That is to say, collaboration on homeworks is permitted, you may
discuss and think over the homework together, but each student
has to write his own paper individually and send it to me via e-mail.