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Democracy, Political Parties and the Challenges of Representation


Admission requirements



This course focuses on the changing role of political parties in democratic systems. On the basis of a number of classic publications in this subfield of political science, attention is paid to the relationship between political parties and representative democracy, the functions of political parties in both consolidated and new democracies, and the role parties play concerning the representation of their constituents. Finally, we will zoom in on contemporary debates about the legitimacy of political parties in the 21st century, and discuss potential alternatives to party democracy.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students are expected to:

1) Be familiar with both the classic and modern academic literature on the role of political parties in democratic systems, and have knowledge of the accompanying concepts and discussions;
2) Be able to provide an informed and analytical contribution to discussions about the relationship between political parties, political representation, and (representative) democracy, in both oral and written form.



Mode of instruction

Seminar, consisting of:

  • close readings;

  • individual presentations;

  • group discussions;

  • group work

Course Load

The total course load of this course is 280 hours (10 ECTS).

This consists of:

  • seminar attendance (56 hours)

  • reading and analyzing course literature (140 hours)

  • preparing individual presentation (14 hours)

  • preparing and writing research papers (70 hours)

Assessment method

The final grade for this course is based on the following elements:

1) An individual presentation (15%)
2) Two research papers (2x 35% = 70%)
3) Attendance and participation (15%)

For information about the re-take: see blackboard and syllabus


Blackboard is used in this course. Students hand in their papers online via turn-it-in, and blackboard will be used to communicate course information to students.

Reading list

In addition to the syllabus, the course material for this course includes:

  • Manin, B. (1997). The Principles of Representative Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Dalton, R.J. (2004). Democratic Challenges, Democratic Choices. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Mair, P. (2013). Ruling the Void. London: Verso.

  • Articles in academic journals (available through the digital library).


See Preliminary Info


Dr. W.P. Veenendaal, room 5B15 (FSW)
Phone: 071-5273392