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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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EU Comparative Politics:Tensions in Representative Democracy - JSM777
Title: EU Comparative Politics:Tensions in Representative Democracy
Guaranteed by: Department of Public and Social Policy (23-KVSP)
Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
Actual: from 2023
Semester: winter
E-Credits: 6
Examination process: winter s.:
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:1/1, Ex [HT]
Capacity: 15 / unknown (15)
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: Emilija Tudjarovska Gjorgjievska, Ph.D.
Teacher(s): Emilija Tudjarovska Gjorgjievska, Ph.D.
Class: Courses for incoming students

Course title:

EU Comparative Politics: Tensions in Representative Democracy


Study program: MSc Programs Public and Social Policy (VSP) - Erasmus students

Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University

Scope of instruction: 1/1 (lectures/seminars)/Credits available: 6 credits

Course number: JSM777, Winter Term 2022/2023

Time and place: Tuesdays at 14:00 for course in room C121, U Kříže 8, Praha 5 Jinonice. (Lectures/Seminars)


Lectures and Seminars:

Head of Lectures and Seminar classes:

Dr. Emilija Tudzarovska              



Consultations to be booked beforehand via e-mail: Tuesdays, 16.00-17.00

Seminar class language of instruction is English.

Goals of instruction:

The aim of this course is to improve the knowledge of students of the EU comparative politics and the contemporary policy-decision making, from the aspect of actors, institutions and policy-making cycle. The goal of this course is to understand the functioning of the EU, the legacy of the post-1989 transformations under the EU integration project, and the increased tensions in representative democracies. It will offer better understanding on the concept of liberal democracy, well established in Europe and the factors behind the rise of several of threats to liberal democracies, as illustrated in the cases of Italy, France, Czech Republic, United Kingdom etc. especially evident in times of elections. It will explore the tensions between different appeals to sovereignties (popular, parliamentary, and constitutional) and will identity the factors behind these occurrences in contemporary Europe.


It will also explore the rise of populism, the crisis of party politics, the appeal to technopopulism; the historical transformations of political systems in EU societies, the understanding of democratic backsliding, and the East-West divide. This course also aims to explore the role of the EU as a union of member-states, from the aspect of representative democracies, institutions and actors involved in the policy making (legitimatization and politicization), and the historical transformation of the EU in the aim to understand the EU contemporary politics.


Main Objectives:

The course will introduce students to the functioning of the European Union and the actors and institutions involve in the policy decision-making cycles. It will also introduce the students with broader understanding of the concept of liberal democracies, crisis of party politics, and the challenges introduced to the policy-making both on EU and nation-state level. Preparatory readings will include contributions from EU integration theories, historical junctures, political theory, comparative politics, foreign policy and political economy.


This course is designed to help students acquire general knowledge about the EU comparative politics and the factors behind the rise of tensions in representative democracies, taking into account internal dimension (nation-states transformations; political systems; popular sovereignty; electoral strategies) and external dimension (liberal market economies, EU Institutional design; EU ideological project). After completion of this course, students should be able to:

-       Know about the EU contemporary politics and decision-making processes taking place on supra-national and national level; how these two concepts are interlinked and mutually interdependent. (EU financial crisis; migration crisis; rule of law challenges)

-       Learn about the key challenges to liberal market democracies and its impact on EU politics and policy decision-making;

-       To identify the factors that gave rise to contemporary tensions in representative democracies from historical-cultural context,

-       Learn about crisis of party politics in the EU;

-       Learn about the varieties of historical transformations of the EU, with focus on CEE countries.

-       Engage in critical thinking and studying about the contemporary EU affairs, i.e. engagement with contemporary scholarly discussion on the EU politics and the role of the states in the global political and economic affairs;

Registration prerequisites:

This voluntary course is offered to students of the Masters programmes of Public and Social Policy (Veřejná a sociální politika), other MSc. programmes and international visiting students (e.g., Erasmus students).

Conditions for passing:

Students shall be admitted to the written examination for this course (in English) if they have been sufficiently graded for their performance in lectures and seminars, and if they have elaborated and submitted a final written assignment (in English) on an agreed topic. The topic shall be based on prior consultations with head of the course.

Student’s performance in lectures will be evaluated as follows:

Students should submit written papers/assignment on questions associated with the topics of the lectures prior taking the final written examination. Questions will be available two weeks in advance. The final exam will take form of a critical essay.

Answers should be e-mailed to the Head of Lectures/Seminars classes: Dr. Emilija Tudzarovska ( Answers to written papers/assignment (up to 4,000 characters, spaces included) will be evaluated as per the given Table 1.  The final written examination will take form of a (critical review) essay (up to 15,000 characters) on a question(s) as per the given lectures.


For student’s performance in seminars consult seminar syllabus.

Table 1: Points can be earned in the following ways:




Student’s performance in lectures



Student’s performance in seminars



Final written assignment



Written examination






Table 2: Final grading shall be based on the following formula (provided the student earns at least the minimum number of points for each particular item – consult Table 1):


Final point score


91 or more


Excellent (výtečně)



Very Good (velmi dobře)



Good (dobře)



Satisfactorily (uspokojivě)



Sufficiently (dostatečně)

50 or less


Fail (nedostatečně)

N. B.:

-       Sources shall be credited in line with the latest version of the ISO 690 standard. No form of plagiarism is tolerated at the Charles University. Any instances of plagiarism shall be discussed by the Disciplinary Board and, eventually, the Dean.


Time: Tuesdays: 14.00-15.30 a.m. (Lectures) and (Seminars).






3 Oct.



Lecture #1

Introduction to the course, lectures and seminars.

Students will form seminar groups.

Introduction to EU politics and decision-making processes (key Institutions; actors; authorities and competences)



10 Oct.



Seminar #1

Joint discussion on selected topic on EU decision-making. (recommended structure of papers, and basic rules of crediting sources).



17 Oct.



Lecture #2

The theoretical approaches in studying the EU politics (EU Integration theories; political theory; public policy; comparative politics)



24 Oct.



Seminar #2

PWP Presentations on general topic The key actors and institutions of the EU politics and decision-making processes”. Joint discussion on selected topic/media article etc.



31 Oct.



Lecture #3

The EU project and the liberal market economy (actors and nation-state transformation; the role of the EU Member States; Casis de Dijon; historical transformations since 1970s)



7 Nov.



Seminar #3

PWP Presentations on general topic “The key challenges to the EU project from contemporary aspect. Joint discussion on selected topic based on lecture #3/Journal or/and media article



14 Nov.



Lecture #4

EU  transformative power: (EU in post-1989 period: historical transformation, party politics in CEE; EU ideological project; and East-West divide, EU Big Bang enlargement)



21 Nov.



Seminar #4

Group discussion on selected media articles/topic: EU in post-1989 period


28 Nov.



Lecture #5

Tensions in representative democracies: factors and historical conditions; Conflicts of sovereignties: transformations of party politics and tensions between sovereignties (parliamentary, popular, Constitutional)

Factors behind conflicts of sovereignties and tensions for in representative democracies (transformation of societies, party politics and public institutions); Tensions of sovereignties during EU crises: EU debt crisis, Covid-19: case studies;



5 Dec.



Seminar #5

PWP Presentations on general topic “Contemporary challenges of the nation-state policy-making” on selected cases.

Paper-drafts submitted to course leader. Discussion on the elaboration of the final written assignments.



12 Dec.




Discussion of submitted drafts/preparation for the final written exam


19 Dec.



EU and contemporary crisis: key challenges (actors; agreements; decision-making processes; financial crisis, technopopulism, populism; elections and electoral strategies: cases of France, Italy, Czech Republic; UK)


Basic sources in English

Bickerton, C. (2012). EU Integration: from Nation States to Member States. (217 pp)/selected chapters;

Grabbe, Heather (2006). The EU’s transformative power: Europeanization through conditionality in Central and Eastern Europe, London, New York, Palgrave Macmillan

James, Mark, et all, (2019). 1989 A Global History of Eastern Europe: New Approaches to European History. Cambridge University Press

Katz and Mair (1995) “Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy”. Party Politics

Kitschelt (1995) “Formation of party cleavages in post-communist democracies” Party Politics.

Krastev, Ivan. 2017. After Europe. University of Pennsylvania Press/selected chapter

Jones E., Menon, A., Weatherill, S., (2014). The Oxford Handbook of the European Union (924pp)/selected chapters;

Zielonka, Jan. (2018). Counter-revolution. Liberal Europe in Retreat. Oxford University Press/selected chapters;

Schmidt, A. V. (2020). Europe's Crisis of Legitimacy, Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone (384 pp)/selected chapters;

Tudzarovska, Rone (2023). The Technocratic Populist Loop: Clashes between Parliamentary and Popular Sovereignty in EU’s Eastern and Southern Periphery in Sovereignty in “Conflict: Political, Constitutional and Economic Dilemmas in the EU”, Rone et all. (2023). Palgrave Macmillan


Additional literature/chapters:

Bickerton. Christopher. 2009. From Brezhnev to Brussels: Transformations of sovereignty in Eastern Europe. 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1384-5748 International Politics Vol. 46, 6, 732–

Christopher Bickerton, Nathalie Brack, Ramona Coman & Amandine Crespy. Comparative European Politics volume 20, pages 257–274 (2022)Conflicts of sovereignty in contemporary Europe: a framework of analysis.

Coman, R. (2017). The EU’s struggle for rule of law pre-and post-accession. Central and Eastern Europe. The Routledge Handbook of Justice and Home Affairs Research;

Marks et al. (2006) “Party Competition and European Integration in the East and West” CPS.

Mair, Peter (2013). Ruling the void: the hollowing of Western democracy. Verso;

Mair, Peter. (1997). Party system change. OUP;

Hay, Colin. (2007). Why we hate politics. Polity

Raik, Kristi. (2004). EU Accession of Central and Eastern European Countries: Democracy and Integration as Conflicting Logics. East European Politics and Societies, Vol. 18, No. 4, pages 567– 594.

Rupnik, Jacques. (2007). Is East-Central Europe Backsliding? From Democracy Fatigue to Populist Backlash. Journal of Democracy Volume 18, Number 4 October 2007

Vachudova, M.A. (2005). Europe Undivided Democracy, Leverage, and Integration After Communism. Oxford University Press

Wilkinson, Michael. 2021. Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe. Oxford University Press. pp.352

White, Jonathan. 2020. The politics of last resort. Governing by Emergency in the European Union. Oxford University Press, pp.240


Notes on reading

·       Students are expected to follow the media covering policy problems on an ongoing basis. Further reading list/selection can be submitted during the course.

Internet sources

European Union:

European Council:

European Commission:

European Parliament :


Eurostat :

Eurobarometer :

The European Social Survey :

Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) : The Economist:

EU Observer:


Last update: Csikósová Aneta, Bc., DiS. (18.09.2023)
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