Political Parties, Origins, Transformations and Future Prospects
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleMAN-BCU2024
Credits (ECTS)6
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Nijmegen School of Management; Bachelor Political Science;
dr. A.S. Zaslove
Other course modules lecturer
dr. A.S. Zaslove
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. A.S. Zaslove
Other course modules lecturer
dr. A.S. Zaslove
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2022
2  (07/11/2022 to 29/01/2023)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-

Students will

  • Become familiar with the core literature on political parties and party systems
  • Acquire empirical knowledge of European party systems
  • Apply the concepts introduced (parties and party systems) to the empirical world​ through practical case application adapted to different contexts
  • Think comparatively (over time and between countries), i.e. engage in the comparative method
  • Be encouraged to think analytically and to expand on their knowledge in written form (i.e. via a written final exam)
  • Become aware of the available databases and the dominant measurement techniques (as they relate to parties and party systems)

This course introduces students to the study of political parties and party systems, combining theoretical, empirical and historical analyses. We begin with the foundational texts on political parties, focusing on party families, party organisation and party systems.

The course then moves to a comparative analysis of the origins of political parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and most importantly, to their evolution in the post-WWII period. The emphasis is on traditional parties such as the Social Democratic, Christian Democratic, Conservative, Liberal and Communist parties. We also examine the interaction between political parties and party systems, focusing on multi-party, consociational and majoritarian party systems.

The course subsequently focuses on party and party system change since the 1980s. We examine questions such as the following. Why has there been an increase in the number of political parties? Has there been a process of voter realignment and dealignment? How have party organisations been transformed? Why do we see the emergence of new parties such as Greens, Radical Right Populists, and Regionalist political parties? And, how have more traditional parties reacted and adjusted to these transformations?


Presumed foreknowledge
Nederlandse politiek in vergelijkend perspectief and Introduction to Political Science.
Test information
Written exam

Ba 2 PM

Required materials
Literature list
Literature will be listed in the course outline
Title:Political ideologies: An introduction
Author:Heywood, A. (2021)
Publisher:Bloomsbury Publishing

Instructional modes

Working group

The course consists of an hour and half lecture twice a week. The lecture will be conducted in English. Students will also be given ample opportunity to participate through a variety of methods.

Final Exam
Test weight1
Test typeDigital exam with CIRRUS
OpportunitiesBlock 2, Block 3