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Parties and Government in the U.S.A.
5 ects
Emilie van Haute
Week 1
Organizational Meeting
• Course outline
- Practical Information
- Course Description
- Expectations, Assignments and Grading
- Course Medium and Readings
- Overview
Practical Information
• Course Schedule
Schedule: Tuesday 10:00-12:00
Room: K3.401
Starts: 20/09; Ends: 13/12
Information: Université virtuelle (UV): (POLID537)
• Office Hours
Thursdays 16:00-18:00
Starts: 29/09; Ends: 15/12 (after: by appointment)
S Building – Office S.11.125
Phone: 02/650.48.82
Email :
Course Description (1)
POLI-D-437 : Le système politique des Etats-Unis,
Or any class covering the following subjects:
The origins of American political principles
The revolution and the constitution
Federalism & Federal institutions (President, Congress, Court)
If not: Jillson Cal, American Government. Political Development and
Institutional Change, London, Routledge, 5th edition, 2009.
And Jillson Cal, Robertson David (eds), Perspectives on American
Government. Readings in Political Development and Institutional Change,
London, Routledge, 2009.
Class Format: Triple Equilibrium
Accumulation of knowledge and critical thinking
Theoretical background and empirical studies (case studies,
documentaries, etc.)
Class seminar (2 ects) and regular work (3 ects)
Course Description (2)
Intended Student Learning Outcome
Develop an in-depth knowledge of the political processes and dynamics
in the U.S.A. (electoral process and the role of the political parties in it)
Via readings and literature reviews
Via documentaries and class discussions
Via a final paper
Develop a critical mind via individual reflection and collective discussions
Organize work on the short term / long term
Write an original essay
 not reproduction of knowledge but rather application of knowledge
Course Outline
Part I: Parties and Politics in the U.S.: Party Eras, Party System, Party
Organization, and Ideology, Issues and Polarization
Part II: Political Campaigns and Elections in the U.S.: Presidential and
Congressional Elections, Participation and Voting Behavior, Campaign
Finance, Strategy and Interest Groups
Course & Assignments Overview
Organizational meeting / Introduction
To do list
Literature review: assignment
Part I : Parties and Politics in America
Background : Party Eras
Final research paper: topic assignment
The American Party System
Literature review/comments
Party Organizations
Literature review/comments
Ideology, Issues and Polarization
Literature review/comments
Part II : Political Campaigns and Elections in America
Literature review/comments
Break1 Presidential Elections : Nomination and
08/11 Case Study
Case Study
Documentaries: comments
Case Study
Documentaries: comments
Literature review/comments
Congressional Elections : Nomination and
Participation and Voting Behavior
Campaign Finance, Campaign Strategy
and Interest Groups
Literature review/comments
Documentaries: comments
Literature review/comments
Course Expectation, Assignments, and
• Student performances assessed as follows:
Participation: 10%
Literature Review: 30%
Written comments on reviews / documentaries: 30%
Final Paper: 30%
• Participation (10%)
Attending class regularly
Participating in class discussion
Quantity / Quality of the comments
Unexcused absences will negatively affect the grade, as well as repeatedly
arriving mate or leaving early.
Course Expectation, Assignments, and Grading(2)
• Literature Review (30%)
A literature review for one week of the class
Readings assigned after Week 1 (UV)
Reviews to be posted on the class blog by Friday evening (5pm)
Reviews should not exceed 5 pages (TNR, 1.5 spaced)
• Written Comments on reviews / documentaries (30%)
1 Comment/question on each literature review (6 weeks)
1 Comment/question on each documentary (3 weeks)
Comments and questions to be posted on the class blog by Monday
evening (before 5 pm)
Answers during class or on the blog by the end of the week (Friday 5 pm)
• Final Research Paper (30%)
Topic: U.S. Presidential elections (Topics chosen for Week 2)
Practical information: UV
Deadline: Monday, January 09, 2012 before 5 pm – no exception
Course Expectation, Assignments, and
• Retake session (August/September)
Participation: students keep their mark
Students decide at their own risk whether they want to retake the
literature review, the final research paper, or both
Literature Review & comments: students are expected to review twice
more reading material to compensate for the written comments mark –
readings assigned in June
Final research paper: same as 1st session (individual paper)
Both assignments are due for Monday, August 13 before 5 pm – no
• Academic Honesty
Dishonesty / Plagiarism treated as a serious matter
Instructions against plagiarism and declaration to be joined to all papers
Course Expectation, Assignments, and
• Format & deadlines matter
No delays tolerated
Fixed format for papers
Standard front sheet (
Table of contents
Standard layout (TNR 12, 1.5 spaced, 2.5cm margins)
Pay extra attention to style & references
Course media & readings
PowerPoint presentations: UV
Textbook: Bibby J.F., Schaffner B.F., Politics, Parties and Elections in
America, Thompson Wadsworth, 2008, 6th edition.
Instructions & Registration
Literature review & Final research paper: forms on UV
Instructions for each assignment: UV
Collection of articles/book chapters available at the university
library + on the UV
Available on the UV
Literature Review (30%)
• Topic
Thematic week (Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, and 13)
Readings assigned after Week 1 (on UV)
• Content
Critical & comparative analysis of a group of articles
Emphasize: question, theoretical approach, hypothesis, method
of data collection & analysis
Integrated analysis > collection of individual article reviews
• Practical Information
To be posted on class blog at the end of the week preceding the
class (Friday evening at 17:00 at the latest)
Should not exceed 5 pages
Instructions and example on the UV
Literature Review (cntd)
• Instructions
= the state and progress of current literature on a given topic or problem
= critical evaluation of material
- Define & clarify topic
- Summarizes state of knowledge
- Identify relations, contradictions, gaps, inconsistencies
- Make suggestions on steps to address the problem
• Checklist
Context of the work reviewed
Theories referred to most often? Debates over theories?
Concepts used? Definitions?
Basic assumptions?
Methods/Data used for demonstration?
Patterns in the results?
Galvan, J.L. Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and
behavioral sciences.
Comments on Literature Review (30%)
• Content
1 Comment/question on each literature review (6 weeks) except
the week assigned for your own review
1 Comment/question on each documentary (3 weeks)
Content: clarify specific aspects of the readings, explain a
concept, explain a method/demonstration, compare with other
findings/authors, etc.
• Practical information
Comments and questions to be posted on the class blog by
Monday evening (5 pm)
Answers during class or on the blog by the end of the week
Final Research Paper (30%)
US Presidential elections
The paper should address the following question: ‘How can we explain
the outcome of the xxxx Presidential elections in the USA?’
Expected structure
Pre-Campaign: preparation of primaries
Primaries: selection of candidate within each party
Presidential election campaign
Results (detailed)
Analysis: using between 2 and 4 hypotheses grounded in the
theoretical frameworks developed in class, analyze the electoral results
Practical information
Topics have to be chosen for Week 3 (see form on UV)
Deadline: Monday, January 09, 2012
Length: 15 pages (TNR 12, 1.5 spaced, 2.5cm margins)
Language: English
Part I
Parties and Politics in the U.S.
Main goal: answer 4 focus questions:
1. How has the role of political parties changed during the past 2 centuries?
2. What role have minor parties played in American history?
3. Are American parties in decline?
4. Do American parties really differ in terms of platform?
Outline: 4 weeks:
I.1. Party Eras
I.2. Party System
I.3. Party Organization
I.4. Party Ideology, Issues and Polarization
I.1. Party Eras
1. The Place of Parties in U.S. Politics
2. Party Realignments in American History
3. Party Eras
1. The Place of Parties in U.S. Politics
Founding generation skeptical of ‘factions’ or parties
Constitution: did not envision a president nominated by party conventions,
partisan slates of presidential electors, or a Congress organized on the basis of
partisanship – tried to make parties difficult to form
Washington, Hamilton & Madison: Public interest & public good >< divisions &
« [The Spirit of party] serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble
the Public administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies
and false alarms, kindles animosity of one party against another, foments
occasional riot and insurrection. » (Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796) – see
also Federalist n°10
Electoral rules favored a strong two-party system: the Constitution does not
specify how national elections are to be conducted (state legislators free to
choose how to designate presidential electors, rules for congressional elections,
Early 20th century: institutionalization of parties
Apprehension concerning the role of parties still flourishing / hostility
40% of the population would like to have candidates run without party labels
Majority of Americans preferred to have the presidency and Congress controlled
by different parties
Cities adopted non-partisan city elections: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver,
Detroit, Los Angeles, New York (Bloomberg case)
2. Party Realignments in American History (1)
Old & continuously operating party system
Since 1852: every president elected as a R or a D
Since 1849: both houses of Congress have been controlled either by the
Rs or the Ds
Major changes in partisan balance every 35 years
15 years of party dominance followed by
15-20 years of competitive politics (alternation, rise of 3rd parties,
divided governments)
Realignment: 5 attributes (Abramson, Aldrich & Rohde, 2003)
1. The regional support for the parties changes
2. The social groups supporting the parties change
3. New groups of citizens are mobilized and become part of the
4. Voters change not just which party they vote for, but also the party
that they identify with
5. Realignments are typically caused by new issues that divide citizens
Realignments in the U.S.:
Debate: 4 or 5 (1828, 1860, 1896, 1932, and perhaps 1968)
Caused by divisive issues
2. Party Realignments in American History (2)
3. Party Eras
The First Party System (1800-1824): Federalists vs. Jeffersonian
The Second Party System (1828-1856): Whigs vs. Jacksonian Democrats
The Third Party System (1856-1896): Ascendant Republicans vs.
The Fourth Party System (1896-1928): Republican Dominance Renewed
The Fifth Party System (1932-1968): The Democratic New Deal Era
The Sixth Party System (1968-2008): The Era of Dealignment and Divided
Source: Jillson C., American Government, London, Routledge, 2009, p.187.
3.0. Preparty Period
• Under Washington’s first term: factions formed in Congress
- Hamilton & Adams (&Washington):
Federalists: Powerful government, strong economic program oriented
towards the northern interests
- Madison & Jefferson (Virginia):
Southern agrarian interests, fear of concentration of power, against
Washington’s pro-British tilt, pro-French revolution
 Parties emerged out of national divisions > State politics, and out of
congressional tensions > electoral divisions
Federalist ascendancy until Washington’s 2nd term but reluctant to
First to organize: Madison & Jefferson (vice-president under John Adams
Coordination of the opposition to the Jay Treaty 1794 (solve disputes with
the British on debts)
3.1. First Party System (1800-1824)
Federalists vs. Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans
• Extension of the divisions from Congress to the electorate
• One-party dominance
• Jeffersonian Republicans (modern-day Ds):
Support from less elite elements of society
Support from small farmers (90% of the nation)
Coordination in various states: electors as agents of the party
Stresses party unity & party discipline but view it as a ‘party to end a
party’ (would be done when the Federalists would be defeated – but
not the case)
 Advantage: won 3x2 presidential elections in a row:
Jefferson (1801-1809); Madison (1809-1817); Monroe (1817-1825)
• Federalists:
Rely on old wealth, respectable occupations, established leadership
strata, elitism
=> Uncompetitive
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