Syllabus—Fall 2004

University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW)


PLS 222: Contemporary Issues


Political Parties and Democracy


Day and Time: Wednesday 6:00pm-8:45pm

Location:  Leutze Hall 103

Course Homepage:


Professor:  Paige Johnson Tan

Phone:  (o) 910-962-3221 (h) 910-350-1229

(if leaving a message, please leave on home phone)


Professor's Homepage: 

Office Hours:  Tuesday/Thursday 12:30-1:45pm and by appointment after class

Office Location: Leutze Hall 272



Course Introduction:


Noted political scientist E. E. Schattschneider once observed that "modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of parties."  Yet, many have observed that parties seem to be in decline in the contemporary period in the US and Western Europe.  The number of self-identified "independent" voters is up.  Party membership is seen to be dwindling.  The media and the internet have the prospect of linking candidates and voters in ways totally apart from the traditional roles played by parties. If democracy requires parties and parties are in decline, is democracy then in trouble?


This course will explore the critical roles played by political parties in both the operation and caliber of  established and new democracies.  Even in non-democratic political systems, parties often play crucial, if varying and under-appreciated,  roles. Many indicators of party decline will be seen, in the end,  to be indicators of party change. 


Course Goals:


In this course, students will be exposed to definitions, types, and characteristics of parties and party systems.  Students will survey party ideologies, types, and organization, as well as candidate selection, campaigning, elections, and the roles of parties in government.  Students will learn to compare parties and party systems and change in these institutions in a systematic manner.  The course will be broadly comparative in orientation, examining parties in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.  In addition, students will develop in-depth knowledge of a particular country's party system(s)  through independent research across the semester. 


Generally, course content is designed to develop students’ international awareness and good citizenship.  Course assignments aim to develop students’ confidence in public speaking and their abilities to analyze political institutions, to formulate arguments, to read critically, and to write well. 


Course Readings:


Alan Ware, Political Parties and Party Systems, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.


IMPORTANT, ADDITIONAL AND REQUIRED READINGS, available via the internet or through library reserves, are listed in the course schedule.  If students have any difficulties locating any of these readings, they should contact the instructor as soon as possible.


Because this is a contemporary issues class, students should be plugged into media coverage of issues dealing with parties, elections, and democracy as well.  We will discuss current developments in class.  In addition, students are required to follow English-language media coverage from and about  the country they "adopt" to research in the course.  If students can follow media coverage of "their" country in other languages, they are encouraged to do so!  Students should see the instructor if they have trouble locating relevant media coverage.  Finally, students will be asked on an ad hoc basis, as dictated by the course schedule and contemporary happenings, to follow coverage of a selection of current issues/countries related to parties and elections.


Course Requirements:


Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation,  a series of papers, and a final examination.  The distribution of the final course grade from the various assignments is:



This course operates on the principle of “continuous assessment.”  This means that students are not placed in the difficult position of having their entire course grades riding on the grade of any one particular assignment (like a “make-or-break” final exam). Instead, students’ grades are determined on a broader basis in terms of the students’ overall work throughout the semester.  A description of the various assignments on which students will be assessed follows.


Class participation.  In the old days, students were seen to be an empty vessel into which the professor poured his or her knowledge (more than likely, it was “his”—since it was the old days!).  However, this old model of education has come under severe challenge in recent years.  Rote memorization is now seen to offer little to students.  How often have you “crammed” for a test and then forgotten everything you learned within a few days or weeks?


The philosophy behind this course is that students learn better when that learning is active.  Students are expected to attend class (with a maximum of one absence for the semester--this policy is tough but, given our once-a-week meetings, necessary).  They are also expected to participate in class discussions, considering, manipulating, testing, and questioning the topics presented in class in order to develop their knowledge of party politics and their familiarity with the tools and concepts of Political Science more broadly.  Importantly, students will be expected on a regular basis to be ready to discuss new topics in regard to the political situation in "their country"


Active class participation by all students has the advantage of helping to foster tolerance for divergent viewpoints and developing students’ abilities to formulate arguments in a well-reasoned manner.  In addition, students will analyze contemporary political developments based on their reading of the media as part of class discussion. 


Class participation is worth 20% of the final course grade.  If students are uncomfortable speaking up in class, it is the responsibility of the student to discuss with the instructor alternative modes of participation.  I guarantee: I do not bite.  Come talk to me!


Short papers.  As indicated on the schedule below, students are expected to produce regular short papers (three pages, four during the semester) that will help students to prepare to discuss particular facets of party politics and politics in "their" country.  Each paper is worth 7.5% of the final course grade, 30% for the series of short papers.


US parties paper.  As this is a presidential election year, students will be encouraged to use their new knowledge of party politics in order to follow the role of the political parties in the campaigns for election 2004.  The US parties paper should be 5 pages.  This assignment is worth 10% of the final course grade.


Final paper.   Building directly from the short papers, the final paper should answer an important how or why question about party politics in the student's adopted country.  Students may consider the parties (their ideology, types, organizations, membership, and popular attitudes toward them), the party system (classification, nature of competition, and level of institutionalization), and parties' roles  in campaigns, elections, and government.  The final paper should be twelve pages long.  It is worth 20% of the final course grade.


Final exam.  The final exam will be cumulative.  It is worth 20% of the final grade and will be administered during our final regular class session on December 1, 2004.


DIS Course Requirements

Several students will be taking this class as a directed independent study.  The above course requirements are modified as follows for DIS students. 

Class participation: 20%.  DIS students are expected to be especially active in class participation.  Additionally, as indicated on the syllabus, there will be regular (@ every three weeks) additional DIS class meetings.  In one of those meetings, DIS students are expected to give a formal, fifteen-minute presentation on their country.   In all sessions, DIS students should be prepared to discuss the assigned topic.

Short paper:s 4 @ 5%=20%.

US parties paper: 15%.  DIS students will do a more involved version of the US parties paper, @10 pages.

Final paper: 20%.  The final paper should be @18 pages.

Final Exam: 25%.   Same as above.



Extra Credit


Model United Nations.  The UNCW Model United Nations Club offers students an opportunity to act out various international/political situations.  Only some of these involve the United Nations.  Simulations such as the Virginia International Committee Simulations attended by the club last year put students right in the middle of domestic political situations to which they must react, strategize, build coalitions, and ham it up.  Students who choose to participate in the UNCW Model United Nations Club will receive extra credit in this course.  See the instructor for details about UNCW Model UN club meetings.  The club's website is


Volunteering for a Campaign.  Students who volunteer for a party/campaign for the upcoming elections are also eligible for extra credit in the course.  See the instructor for details.


Course Policies


Academic Honesty


This instructor believes academic honesty is the foundation of the entire enterprise of a university. Only in an environment of honesty can genuine learning occur and good citizenship be fostered.  For further information, students should consult the online UNCW Code of Student Life at (The Honor Code begins on page 6 in the 2010 version).  Students should also feel free to ask the instructor any questions they may have about academic honesty.  Because academic honesty is treated as a serious matter, the course policy is one of zero tolerance for academic DIShonesty. 


The core principle of the Academic Honor Code is that student work represents the original work of the student.  For this reason, plagiarism, using the work of another without proper citation, and cheating, the unauthorized use of information during an examination, are prohibited. 


The Academic Honor Code works for both students and teachers.  Students can expect that the instructor will treat them in a fair, honest, and impartial manner.  The instructor also expects students to deal with her and with one another honestly.  Plagiarism and cheating are violations of academic honesty because they steal from the original creator of the work.  In addition, they violate the relationship of honesty between student and teacher as the student attempts to pass off work as his or her own which was produced by another.  Further, plagiarism and cheating violate the bond of honesty among students themselves.  Students who produce their assignments through long, hard work are being violated by those taking a shortcut through the misappropriation of another’s work or knowledge.  Most sadly, students who violate academic honesty cheat themselves of the chance to learn.


Please note two particular policies the instructor follows:

1) Work for this course must be yours, and it must be original.  If you wish to work on a project you have previously worked on for another class, you must add at least as much content as the assignment requires that is new and original for this class.


2) You may receive help on your written assignments (not tests) from your roommate, significant other, parents, the University Learning Center, or a passerby on the street.  The process of reading and revising your work based on the comments of others is an important part of how we learn and improve.


Contacting the Instructor


Students are encouraged to call or e-mail with questions, or stop by office hours (listed above).  I endeavor to be available to assist you with your course work. It’s my job.  As a hint, e-mails are likely to guarantee a quicker response than phone messages.  I am most happy to set up an appointment for a meeting in addition to those times listed as office hours.  However, because I have a young child at home, students must understand that there are limits on my time.  A note on courtesy: When students receive assistance through any one of these extra-class channels, they should be sure to thank the instructor for her time, thought, and effort.  This little trick will serve you well in the future. It is an expected part of social etiquette.


Late Papers




Students are encouraged to plan in advance to make time to complete assignments.  Things come up during the semester; relatives require our attention, cars break down, and students get sick.  Students should begin their assignments early enough to allow for these foreseeable and unforeseeable eventualities.  The instructor does not wish to receive any late assignments during the semester.


Papers are due at the start of class on the date listed on the syllabus.  Each twenty-four hours that a paper is late may result in a penalty of one letter grade.  Late papers must be submitted by e-mail (pasted into your message and attached in Word format) and must receive confirmation of receipt from the instructor to be considered "turned in."  For your protection, submit your paper from an e-mail account which will keep a record of your outgoing e-mail. With this, you could demonstrate a true attempt to submit the paper that somehow disappears into the electronic ether.  Do not submit papers to the instructor’s faculty snail mailbox, the department secretary, or under the instructor’s office door.  After submitting papers electronically, students should bring a print-out of the late assignment to the next class meeting.  Late assignments will not be graded on the same schedule as assignments submitted on time.  Under no circumstances should students miss class to complete an assignment.


Extra Credit


Students are invited to attend lectures, panels, and movies on campus that deal with international affairs.  Just check with the instructor beforehand as to whether  you've picked a good event.  After the event, submit a one- to two-page single-space write-up that deals with your reactions to the presentation. How does it relate to what we are doing in class? How does it relate to other things you've studied?  Did you agree or disagree with the speaker/s argument?  What did the presentation make you think about?  This extra credit will be used toward class participation or in the calculation of final grades in borderline cases.




Students are strongly encouraged to show respect for fellow students and the instructor by arriving for class on time. Late arrivals disturb fellow students and disrupt the learning process.  It is better to come in late than not to come at all, but try to be respectful of classmates by making arrangements to be in class and in your seat at the start of class.


Excused Absences


An excused absence is one that is discussed with the professor IN ADVANCE and for which documentation can be provided.  Only for excused absences will the professor allow work to be made up.  All make-up work will be done at the instructor’s convenience.




The instructor understands that some students may have need of accommodation (for example, extended testing time or a quiet testing locale) due to a disability.  If you feel that you are in need of an accommodation, please contact Disability Services in Westside Hall to make the appropriate arrangements.  The phone number is 910-962-7555. 


Electronic Devices


Students are permitted to use laptop computers during class to access PowerPoints, online notes, or to type their own course notes.  Laptops are not to be used for surfing the internet or checking e-mail.  Students with computers are encouraged to sit in the back of the classroom to avoid disturbing fellow students. During periods of class discussion, computers should be closed to ensure adequate attention and participation.  Obviously, when tests and quizzes are being administered, laptops are not permitted.  Use of cellphones, including texting, is never permitted. PLEASE NOTE: If students are found to be using electronic devices in a manner inconsistent with the professor’s assessment of the best environment for group learning, they may be penalized with a one-letter grade reduction in their final course grade.


World Wide Web Resources


The web has a bounty of information for research on political parties and democracy (not all of it credible—be a careful consumer!!!).  Below, students will find a selection of websites.  Students should consult the instructor if they require any assistance in finding additional web resources on particular topics or countries.  Further resources are located in the course schedule, as appropriate to the day’s topic.  A meta-collection of links on Comparative Politics, International Relations, and other topics can be found at my homepage at


Access Democracy

Ace Project

Atlantic Online

Brookings Institution

Bush campaign website

Carter Center

Comparative Democratization Project Stanford

Democracy Network

Democratic Party, US


Elections Ace Project

Elections by Country

European Governments Online (from the EU)

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Policy

Freedom House (NGO)

Global Barometer (public opinion)

International Conference of Asian Political Parties

International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights

International Crisis Group Crisisweb

International Foundation for Election Systems

International IDEA

International Republican Institute

Kerry campaign website

Lijphart Elections Archive

Missions to the UN  (with links to missions’ websites)  

Nader for President

National Democratic Institute for International Affairs

Parties from Electionworld

Political Resources on the Net

Transitions Online

Republican Party, US

US Department of State 

World Wide Web Virtual Library (WWWVL) International Affairs Resources


Periodicals, Scholarly Journals, and US Government Publications


As wonderful as the web is for finding information, periodicals and scholarly journals still form the backbone of our academic work.  Some periodicals and journals helpful for the study of political parties are listed below.  Randall Library has access to many of these journals via its journal databases.  Some others, including important journals like Party Politics, can only be accessed through inter-library loan (ILL).  To set up an ILL account through the library, go to


American Political Science Review

Asian Survey

Comparative Political Studies

Comparative Politics

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Policy

International Studies Quarterly

International Studies Review

Journal of Democracy

PS Political Science

Party Politics

Perspectives on Politics

Political Science Quarterly


Third World Quarterly

Washington Quarterly

World Politics

Course Schedule:

Aug 18  Parties and Democracy


Course Introduction. Lecture: Parties and Democracy.  Case Study: United States (then and now).  Discuss: Partisanship in the US.  By next week: students should pick a country to "adopt" for the semester.


Reading: Ware, Introduction.  James Madison, “Federalist #10,” November 22, 1787 [ONLINE] [accessed June 7, 2004] (IN-CLASS HANDOUT).


Aug 25 Ideology


SPECIAL VISIT:  Anne Pemberton, Public Services Librarian at Randall Library, on conducting research on political parties.

Lecture: Party Families.  Discuss: Is ideology in decline?  What are the ideological schisms in your country?  (BE PREPARED TO DISCUSS YOUR COUNTRY.  I AM SERIOUS!!)  Case Studies: Italy, Indonesia.


Reading:  Ware, Ch. 1.  Seymour Martin Lipset, “The Americanization of the European Left,” Larry Diamond and Richard Gunther, eds. Political Parties and Democracy, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, 52-66 (RESERVE).

Sep 1  Types, Membership, and Popular Attitudes toward Parties

Lecture: Party Types and Modes of Participation.  Discuss: Is everyone anti-party (what about you?)?  Are parties in decline (what about in your country?)? Also, watch selections of the Republican National Convention.  What is its significance?  Cases: Global Comparative Data/US. 

Reading: Ware, Ch. 2.  Susan E. Scarrow, “Parties without Members? Party Organization in a Changing Electoral Environment,” Russell J. Dalton and Martin P. Wattenberg, eds. Parties without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 79-101 (RESERVE).

DIS GROUP MEETING THIS WEEK.  Focus: The Far Right in Europe.  Read latest developments at,11981,711266,00.html.  Be prepared to describe the policies associated with the far right in Europe and the reasons for the right's electoral success.  Answer: Is the far right is poised to take over in Europe?

SHORT PAPER #1 DUE: Analyze parties and ideology in your country.

Sep 8  Organization

Lecture: Party Organization (special discussion of party factions).  Discuss: Are parties internally democratic?  Is the US two-party system democratic? Case Studies: Japan, US.

Reading: Ware, Ch. 3.  Robert Michels, Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy, London: Jarrold & Sons, 1916 [ONLINE] [accessed June 4, 2004], Part 6, Chs. 1 and 2.  Ralph Nader, “Public Participation and the Erosion of Democracy,” The Humanist, January/February 2004, 20-24 (RESERVE).

Sep 15  Parties in Less-than-Liberal Democracies

Lecture: Parties in Less-than Liberal Democracies.  Discuss: Democracy with Adjectives.  Are there flaws in the democracy of your adopted country? What do the flaws mean for political parties?  What do the parties mean for democracy?  Cases: Afghanistan, Turkey, Mexico, Egypt, and Taiwan.

Reading: Ware, Ch. 4.  Thomas Carrothers, “The End of the Transition Paradigm,” Journal of Democracy, 13, 1, 2002, 5-21 (RESERVE).  William A. Clark, “Russia at the Polls: Potemkin Democracy,” Problems of Post-Communism, March/April 2004, 22-29 (RESERVE).  Follow news on the coming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan (ONLINE).

SHORT PAPER #2 DUE: Analyze party types and organizations in your country.

Sep 22  Party Systems

Lecture: Party System Classification and Analysis.  Case Studies: Europe and Latin America.  Discuss: Party systems in your countries.   Be prepared to give an informal, three-minute presentation to the group.

Reading: Ware, Chs. 5 and 6.  Recommended: Maurice Duverger, “Factors in a Two-Party and Multi-Party System,” Party Politics and Pressure Groups, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1972, 23-32 (excerpt available online at ) (ONLINE). 

DIS GROUP MEETING THIS WEEK. Formal presentations (15 minutes) describing and analyzing party systems in your countries.

Sep 29  Party System Change and Party Systems in the Developing World

Lecture: Party System Change.  Case: The Greens and Germany's Changing Party System.  Discuss: Party system institutionalization and the nature of competition. Case: Brazil.  Discuss the nature of competition in the United States in this presidential election year.

Reading: Ware, Chs. 7 and 8.  Scott Mainwaring, Rethinking Party Systems in the Third Wave of Democratization, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999, Ch. 2 (RESERVE).  Please note that the Mainwaring book is on reserve at the library in hard copy, so you'll need to get your copy well in advance.

SHORT PAPER #3 DUE: Analyze the party system in your country.

Oct 6  Political Science Week.  More info to come.

Oct 13  Candidates and Leaders

Discuss: How are candidates chosen?  Discuss: Primaries and caucuses in the US.  Case Studies: United States, Europe, China, and Malaysia.

Reading: Ware, Ch. 9.

DIS GROUP MEETING THIS WEEK.    Reading: John Nichols, "The Beat Bush Brigades," The Nation, April 8, 2004.  Online at  Review the websites of Move On ( ), ACT (, Citizens for a Sound Economy ( and Swiftboat Veterans for Truth ( .  Discuss: The changing balance between parties and non-party actors in elections in the United States.  Consider: Do the groups above violate the letter or the spirit of campaign finance reform legislation?

Oct 20  Campaigning

Video: War Room.

Discuss: Parties or candidates, who wins elections in the United States?

Reading:  Ware, Ch. 10.   Look over US presidential candidate websites at,, or   Where’s the party?

SHORT PAPER #4 DUE: Analyze the nature of competition in your country.

Oct 27  Campaigning

Discuss: Effects of Campaign Rules and the Roles of the Media and the Internet. Case Studies: United States, Europe, Indonesia.  Be prepared to discuss party websites in your country.  If there are too few or if they are in a language other than English, be prepared to discuss party websites in another country.  View US presidential election ads at C-span or candidate websites.

Reading:  Pippa Norris, “Preaching to the Converted: Pluralism, Participation, and Party Websites, Party Politics, 9, 1, January 2003, 21-45 (RESERVE).  Recommended: David M. Farrell and Paul Webb, “Political Parties as Campaign Organizations,” Russell J. Dalton and Martin P. Wattenberg, eds. Parties without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 102-128 (RESERVE).

Nov 2 Election today.  Have you voted? (No class today. This is just a gentle civic reminder!)

Nov 3  Elections

Lecture: Counting Votes.  Discuss: The sliding scale of free and fair.  Cases: United Kingdom, Israel, Singapore, and Indonesia.


Reading: Giovanni Sartori, “The Party Effects of Electoral Systems,” Larry Diamond and Richard Gunther, eds. Political Parties and Democracy, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, 90-105 (RESERVE).  Jorgen Elklit and Palle Svensson, "What Makes Elections Free and Fair?" Larry Diamond and Mark F. Plattner, eds. The Global Divergence of Democracies, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, 200-214 (RESERVE).

DIS GROUP MEETING THIS WEEK.  Pan-European political party groupings.  Discuss: Can parties operate at the European Union level?  Reading: TBA.

Nov 10  Government Formation

Lecture: Government Formation in Presidential and Parliamentary Systems.  Discuss: Multiparty presidential regimes. And, do party programs (platforms) matter?  Case Studies: Bolivia, US.

Reading: Ware, Ch. 11.  Scott Mainwaring, "Presidentialism, Multipartism, and Democracy," Comparative Political Studies, 26, 2, July 1993, 198-227 (RESERVE).  Look over the Democratic or Republican (as you wish) platform for 2004.

US PARTIES PAPER DUE: Analyze the role of parties in the 2004 US elections.

Nov 17  Parties in Government and Party Prospects

Discuss: Pay-offs and Government Duration.  Case Study: Europe.  Lecture and Discussion: The Future of Political Parties.  Is Democracy in Good Health?

Reading: Ware, Ch. 12.  Kaare Strom, “Parties at the Core of Government,” Russell J. Dalton and Martin P. Wattenberg, eds. Parties without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 180-207 (RESERVE).

Nov 23  No class.  FINAL PAPER DUE by 3:30pm.

Nov 24 Class Cancelled: Thanksgiving Holiday.  Enjoy!

DIS GROUP MEETING.   International party/election assistance.  Reading: Review the websites of IFES, IRI, and NDI to learn more about what these organizations are doing in democracy promotion and party development assistance. Whose interest do these organizations serve?


You did it!!!

Have a happy holiday!!!