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Democratic Reform and Its Impact



The last twenty years have seen an increase in the introduction of political reforms in established democracies. These reforms include electoral system change, decentralization, the creation of Non-Majoritarian (expert) Institutions, the increased use of referendums & citizen consultations, and more. The reason most often proffered for reform is that reforms are needed to safeguard Democracy and to counter the decline of legitimacy in the eyes of the citizens. The analysis of the relationship between reform and legitimacy is complicated by the fact that political reform comprises a variety of institutional changes, and there is debate amongst scholars as to which type of reform will have a positive effect on legitimacy.
This seminar aims to combine and build upon existing research. It will discuss in what way institutional change can be systematically and comparatively researched. What structural changes have there been in the institutional setting of democracies? What are the effects of institutional changes on the attitudes and behavior of the citizenry? Have these changes constituted a shift in the character of democracies, and if so, in what way? These issues will be extensively addressed during the meetings.

Methods of Instruction

Seminars, tutorials and guest lectures for a period of eight weeks.

Study Material

Literature (approx. 1000 pp): To be announced .


Short weekly reaction papers and a final research paper.


Monday 31 January till 21 March, 9.00-11.00 hrs. in 5B02
Friday 4 February till 25 March, 9.00-11.00 hrs , in 1A03.