This is the web page of the course Global Comparative Politics offered to the students of the MA (Laurea Magistrale LM-81) Public and Cultural Diplomacy

Luca Verzichelli (

Course assistants:
Gianni Del Panta (
Alice Cavalieri (

Polo Mattioli, Università di Siena

Lecture Hours and Room:
Tuesday, 5 p.m. 7 p.m., Aula
Wednesday, 5 p.m. 7 p.m., Aula
Thursday, 11 a.m. 1 p.m., Aula

The course starts on March 5, 2019,

EXERCISE IN CLASS Friday 3 February 2017 at 12.00. Room to be announced!

This course provides a general overview on the state of current political regimes, focusing in particular on the processes of democratization, the state of democracy in different areas of the world, and the main challenges to contemporary democracy.
A number of relevant issues and questions will be raised. For instance, what are the key elements of today’s democracy? What kind of non-democratic regimes or semi-democratic regimes can be considered as relevant features of the current scenario?
The course covers these and many other issues by utilizing the recent literature of comparative politics. That is to say, the findings of the discipline of political science applied to the empirical comparative analysis of contemporary political systems. More in details, the course will be built on the bases of four teaching blocs:
– The nature of comparative politics and the comparative study of democracy
– The shape of democracy in the classic Western hemisphere.
– The current democratic experiences in other world areas
– Democratic backsliding and areas of non-democracy


Students are expected to keep up with the required readings and to attend all the classes. Absences will have to be justified. Starting with the second week of the course, at least one student will have to introduce the topic of each lesson, reporting on one or more readings.
Students’ evaluation will be based for about 20% on attendance and participation/presentations in class. For about 40% on a book review and on the final exercise performed in class and for about 40% on a term paper of about 6500/7000 words to be delivered by the end of the term.
The term paper will have to be prepared on one of the general questions discussed during the course. Either an empirical country-case paper (an analysis of one case study or a limited comparative analysis in a given geopolitical area) or a review-based paper will be accepted.
The abstract of the proposed papers will be discussed during the last meetings in class.
Non-attending students will be admitted to an oral exam. They will have to contact the instructor well in advance to agree on an adequate bibliography. The use or at least one introductory textbook (see background readings, below) will be compulsory for these students. Moreover, they will have to report on one or two volumes from the list of the recommended readings in order to pass the exam.

D. Caramani (ed.) Comparative Politics, Oxford, OUP, 2017 (fourth edition).

Recommended readings:
Crises and Collapses in Democratic Regimes

1- Bastiaens, Ida and Nita Rudra (2018). Democracies in Peril. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2- Tomini, Luca (2017). When Democracies Collapse: Assessing Transitions to Non-Democratic Regimes in Contemporary World. London: Routledge.
3 – Bermeo, N. G. (2013). Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times: The Citizenry and the Breakdown of Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
4 — Mainwaring, S. and A. Pérez-Linán (2014). Democracies and Dictatorships in Latin America: Emergence, Survival, and Fall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Populist Challenge

1- Lazaridis, Gabriella, and Campani, Giovanna (Eds.). (2016). Understanding the Populist Shift: Othering in a Europe in Crisis. Taylor & Francis.
2- Mudde, Cas (2016). SYRIZA: The Failure of the Populist Promise. Berlin: Springer
3- Mudde, Cas and Kaltwasser, Cristóbal Rovira (2017). Populism: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
4- von Beyme, Klaus (2018). Rightwing Populism. An Element of Neodemocracy. Berlin: Springer
5 – Muller, J.W. (2016) What is populism? University of Pensylvania Press

Non-Democratic Regime

1- Cassani, Andrea and Luca Tomini (2019). Autocratization in Post-Cold War Political Regimes. London: Palgrave MacMillan.
2- Geddes, Barbara, Joseph Wright, and Erica Frantz (2018). How Dictatorships Work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
3- Gerschewski, Johannes and Christoph H. Stefes (eds.) (2018). Crisis in Autocratic Regimes. Boulder, Co.: Lynne Rienner.
4- Holzer, Jan, and Mareš, Miroslav (Eds.). (2016). Challenges to Democracies in East Central Europe. London: Routledge.
5. Levitsky, S. and L. A. Way (2010). Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. New York: Cambridge University Press.
6- Reuter, O. J. (2017). The Origins of Dominant Parties: Building Authoritarian Institutions in Post-Soviet Russia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Democracy in times of democratic crisis

1- Kriesi, H.P. et al. (2016), Democracy in the Age of Globalization and Mediatization, Palgrave.
2 – Howard P. and M. M. Hussain, Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring, Oxford University Press, 2013
3- Morlino, L. and F. Raniolo (2017), The Impact of the Economic Crisis on South European Democracies, London, Palgrave.
4 -Tormey, S. (2015) The end of representative democracy, Wiley
5- Teorell, J. (2010), Determinants of Democratization, Cambridge

Parties, Party Systems and Parliaments
1- Ignazi, Piero (2017). Party and Democracy: The Uneven Road to Party Legitimacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2- Koß, Michael (2018). Parliaments in Time: The Evolution of Legislative Democracy in Western Europe, 1866-2015. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
3 — Akkerman, T., S. de Lange, and M. Rooduijn (eds.) (2016). Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe. London: Routledge.
4- Zulianello, Mattia (2019). Anti-System Parties: From Parliamentary Breakthrough to Government. London: Routledge.



Although this is not a specialist course in political science, a basic knowledge of the discipline is required. The course will provide skills and information for anyone looking for a robust knowledge of the major issues in contemporary comparative politics and some practical abilities in analyzing the data and the trends concerning the changes within the current political systems today. In times of deep social and political transformations, these skills are important not only for perspective scholars but, also, for an increasing number of public servants and professionals who want to pursue a career in media, national and supranational GOs, international agencies, governmental and multilateral organizations, non-profit organizations and international corporations