Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1996

Parliamentary Democracy and Political Parties

Main discipline: Political Science
Lecturer: Professor Kaare Strøm
Institution: University of California, San Diego, USA
Dates: 29 July - 2 August, 1996

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with ongoing research in the area of political parties and parliamentary democracy. The focus will be on institutions of political parties in relation to parliaments and cabinets in contemporary advanced democracies, especially Western Europe. Special attention will be given to the role of political parties in governmental decision making, in cabinet formation, and in the competition for voter support. A focal point of the course will be applications of rational choice theory, such as agency theory and coalition theory, to the study of political parties in relation to parliaments and cabinets. Specific topics will include legislative design and procedure, the organization and strategy of political parties, cabinet coalitions, and the operation of parliamentary government. The course will assume some basic familiarity with rational choice models, but no mathematical training. Lectures will focus on applications rather than formal proofs and representation. The readings will in large part be drawn from the contemporary research literature, including both books and journal articles.

Background Readings
Students could start with Laver and Schofield or alternatively with a more elementary book such as Iain McLean, Dealing in Votes. Students unfamiliar with game theory should read the assigned sections in Morrow.