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Elections and Political Careers

Vak 2018-2019


This course will introduce students to applied topics on elections and political careers in political economy. We will discuss how elections affect political careers and vice versa: Do voters affect or select party platforms? Does the identity of politicians matter for the types of policies they implement? Do elections restrict politicians’ behaviour in office, tackling corruption or shirking? Is there an incumbency advantage? Does the length of a political career affect the propensity to establish a political dynasty? We will discuss political selection, incentivising politicians and the consequences of long careers, using principal-agent theory as a theoretical backbone. The focus in this course lies on reading and critically engaging with recent empirical research using methods of causal identification, which will be introduced in an intuitive manner.

Course Objectives

Objective1: The course introduces students to recent applied topics in political economy. After the completion of this course, students will be informed about recent findings from research about elections and political careers in political economy.

Objective 2: After the completion of this course students will be able to interpret recent empirical research employing methods of causal identification. Students will develop their methodological skills as social scientists, as well as writing and presentation skills, by reading, interpreting and critically engaging with theoretical and empirical research.

Mode of Instruction

The class will be taught in seminar form, i.e. as a combination of lectures and class discussions. A different topic will be considered each week

Reading List

Books and articles; a detailed reading list will be made available on blackboard. There is no handbook for this course.

Assessment Method

A combination of individual written work, in-class participation and a presentation.

Entry Requirements

This course has no formal entry requirements, but succesful completion of (and an interest in) “Statistiek” (or an equivalent course on Empirical Methods for Political Scientists), “Rationele Keuzetheorie” (or an equivalent Introduction to Rational Choice Theory) and “Economie voor Politicologen” (or an equivalent Introduction to Economics for Political Scientists course) will be helpful.


See Preliminary Info

This course is earmarked for the specialisations NECD and PPD