Special Issues in Comparative Politics. The Political Systems of the United States and Russia

Course Information
TitleΕμβάθυνση στη Συγκριτική Πολιτική:Τα Πολιτικά Συστήματα των ΗΠΑ και της Ρωσίας / Special Issues in Comparative Politics. The Political Systems of the United States and Russia
FacultySocial and Economic Sciences
SchoolPolitical Sciences
Cycle / Level1st / Undergraduate
Teaching PeriodWinter
CoordinatorIoannis Papageorgiou
Course ID100001504

Programme of Study: PPS Tmīma Politikṓn Epistīmṓn 2023-sīmera

Registered students: 0
OrientationAttendance TypeSemesterYearECTS
KORMOSElective CoursesWinter-4

Class Information
Academic Year2023 – 2024
Class PeriodWinter
Faculty Instructors
Class ID
Course Type 2016-2020
  • Background
  • General Knowledge
  • Scientific Area
  • Skills Development
Course Type 2011-2015
Specific Foundation / Core
Digital Course Content
Language of Instruction
  • Greek (Instruction, Examination)
Required Courses
  • ΚΥ0105 International Relations
General Prerequisites
Students who choose the course should have already been successfully examined in the courses "Introduction to International Relations" and "Comparative Policy and Political Systems". The ability to easily understand scientific articles in English (or other language) is required. .
Learning Outcomes
Upon succesful completion of the course, student shall be able to: - have a complete view of how the political systems under examination function (both institutionally and in practice) - be able to understand and analyze better the political developments in the countries under examination and, on the basis of such analysis, handle better the information received about these countries - further develop their capacity to work on their own and analyze these political systems - move towards elaborating well-founded opinions on major issues linked to the countries under examination.
General Competences
  • Apply knowledge in practice
  • Retrieve, analyse and synthesise data and information, with the use of necessary technologies
  • Work autonomously
  • Work in teams
  • Work in an international context
  • Work in an interdisciplinary team
  • Generate new research ideas
  • Be critical and self-critical
  • Advance free, creative and causative thinking
Course Content (Syllabus)
This course comes as a continuation, with a more detailed analysis, of the compulsory course of the second semester entitled “Comparative Politics and political systems”. It examines more in-depth the political systems of two important countries: the United States of America and of Russia. As regards the US, the course introduces students to the American politics and its political institutions. It looks into the historical development of the country and analyzes the structure and functioning of its political system, with emphasis on its federal characteristics and the international role of the country. Firstly, it examines the history of the country and the elements that contributed to the shaping of the American political system and its federal institutions; then, it delves into specific issues of the structure and operation of the political system. The course also examines the role and evolution of federal institutions, the impact of political culture in this context and the importance and role of parties, interest groups and the economy in shaping policy. Special reference is made to the foreign policy and the international role of the United States and its consequences at domestic level, while the course also examines other parameters such as the political, social and racial inequalities and their impact on the political system, the integration of minorities as well as the development and implementation of public policies. The first part examines the institutions. The analysis emphasizes the foundations of the American system and the reasons that led to the formation of the US with an emphasis on its federal elements and the separation of powers. In particular, the following are examined: • What special features contributed to the formation of the US political system? • How and why were federal institutions formed and how (and why) have they evolved to this day? • Do checks and balances work today? It then approaches specific issues concerning the dynamic and (dys)functions of the current system: • What is the reason for the growing division within American society and where can polarization lead to? • What does the discrepancy between the coasts and middle America signal? • Can checks and balances work? • What are the consequences of the increasing numbers of ethnic minorities, especially Latinos? • What implications does the gradual weakening of the US leadership role have? The course follows the current political developments in the country's political system in view of the coming elections of 2024 and the ongoing internal divisions in the country. As regards Russia, the course examines the basic features of the Russian political system, its political institutions, both formal and informal, and the international role of the country. During the current academic year, it particularly examines how the country's political system evolved into the current authoritarian regime. This part will consider particularly the historical context of the formation of the Russian State, the impact of the transition from the Soviet Union in Russia and the elements that shape the political culture of the country. The course also examines the characteristics of the constitutional structure of the country (such as federalism and the semi-presidential system), and the current political situation (for instance the changing political context, the gradual transformation of Russia into an authoritarian country, the role of the leader/president in political life and the weak civil society). Emphasis is given to the unique federal system of the country, the role of ethnic minorities in the political system and the specific features of the Russian economy and society. It also examines the country's foreign policy in relation to the period of the Soviet Union and in comparison, with that of the US and the international role of the country in the current period both vis-a-vis its neighbors and to the EU, especially after the invasion on Ukraine. Schedule of lectures for the academic year 2022-3 Lecture 1. The historical formation of the United States • The foundations of the American political system • The American political culture • The U.S. Constitution Lecture 2. The federal system of the United States • The federal government • The federal-state relations • Checks and balances • A case study – the federal intervention on racism and the Civil Rights Movement Lecture 3. The party system • Political parties - the history of bipartisanship • Elections and the electoral system • Electoral participation • The role of interest groups Lecture 4. The U.S. Government • The role of the President • The federal administration • The role of the personalities Lecture 5. The Legislative • The Congress • The procedure for adopting laws Lecture 6. The Judiciary • The independence of the judiciary and the role of judges • The Supreme Court • The judicial intervention on the political system Lecture 7. Individual rights • The constitutional protection of civil liberties • Issues of judicial interpretation of the civil liberties • Two case studies – the right to bear arms and the right to abortion Lecture 8. The historical formation of the political system of Russia • The birth of the Russian state • The tsarist period • The Soviet Union Lecture 9. The creation of the current Russian state • Gorbachev's reforms and the dissolution of the Soviet Union • The new Russian state - the Yeltsin period • The consolidation of the Russian political system - the period of Putin-Medvedev • Putin as an absolute leader Lecture 10. The Russian political system • The transformation of Russia into a personalist authoritarian state • The federal dimension and Russia’s nationalities Lecture 11. The Russian political institutions • The executive, legislative and judicial power • The role of the President • the neutering of elections and the disappearance of effective political parties Lecture 12. Τhe Russian society and economy • The economy – from communism to the oligarchs and the return of the state and para-state economy. • The demographic issue Lecture 13. Τhe Russian and international relations • Russian efforts to become a world power – the use of energy and raw material • Revisionism and its impact on Russia’s relations to the “near abroad” – the invasion of Ukraine and the re-incorporation of Belarus • Towards a new relationship with the West and the world
political system, United States of America, Russia, comparative politics
Educational Material Types
  • Notes
  • Slide presentations
  • Multimedia
  • Interactive excersises
  • Book
Use of Information and Communication Technologies
Use of ICT
  • Use of ICT in Course Teaching
  • Use of ICT in Laboratory Teaching
  • Use of ICT in Communication with Students
Course Organization
Reading Assigment341.2
Written assigments351.3
Student Assessment
Since the course has a seminar character, regular attendance of students is critical. All participants will be asked to make at least one short presentation on a topic and to coordinate the class discussion in at least one case. In the run-up to the U.S. elections, student presentations will include the following activities: For the USA • Swing states study with a brief presentation of crucial states. • Political parties: two groups will study the course of the two major parties by examining the implications of the growing division of Democrats between progressives and centrists and the transformation of the Republican party into a party of the reactionary right. For Russia • Russia's relations with its neighbors, especially after the invasion of Ukraine: the participants will create small groups that will deal with the country's current relations with its neighbors in particular of the so-called "Near Abroad" (Belarus, Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia) presenting the main issues in today's bilateral relations. • Russia after Putin: the participants will explore the course of the country after the departure of Vladimir Putin: will it remain an authoritarian centralized regime, will it develop into an oligarchy or will it acquire democratic characteristics? The course also comprises the preparation of a paper (up to 10 pages) on a subject agreed with the teacher and delivered during November. The student will orally present the paper by the in December. The student is examined on this paper in an oral examination at the end of the semester. The grading is calculated as follows: 40% papers during the course of the semester, 30% participation and presentations during the course and 30% final exam.
Student Assessment methods
  • Written Exam with Extended Answer Questions (Formative)
  • Written Assignment (Formative, Summative)
  • Oral Exams (Formative, Summative)
  • Performance / Staging (Formative, Summative)
Course Bibliography (Eudoxus)
Γ. Παπαγεωργίου: το πολιτικό σύστημα των ΗΠΑ – Συνταγματικοί θεσμοί και πολιτική πραγματικότητα. Εκδόσεις Κριτική, 2022 Αρκάντι Οστρόφσκι: η επινόηση της σύγχρονης Ρωσίας. Εκδόσεις Επίκεντρο, 2017.
Additional bibliography for study
Θ. Διαμαντόπουλος: Το πολιτικό σύστημα των ΗΠΑ. Εκδόσεις Πατάκη. Αθήνα 2012 Χ. Παπασωτηρίου: Αμερικανικό Πολιτικό Σύστημα και Εξωτερική Πολιτική 1945-2002. Εκδόσεις Ποιότητα. Αθήνα 2002. Π. Πετρουλάκος: το Πολίτευμα των ΗΠΑ. Εκδόσεις Κριτική Α.Ε. Αθήνα 1995. Α. De Toqueville. Η Δημοκρατία στην Αμερική (on line στα αγγλικά http://www.gutenberg.org/files/815/815-h/815-h.htm) Η Διακήρυξη της Ανεξαρτησίας των ΗΠΑ (on line στα ελληνικά http://el.wikisource.org/wiki/Διακήρυξη_της_Ανεξαρτησίας_των_ΗΠΑ και στα αγγλικά http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/index.htm) Madison J.,Hamilton A.,Jay J.: Τα ομοσπονδιακά κείμενα των ΗΠΑ. Εκδόσεις Παπαζήση. Αθήνα. 2009 Μ. Καραγιάννης (επιμ.). Η Ρωσία σήμερα. Εκδόσεις Παπαζήση. Αθήνα 2010 Θ. Βερέμης: ΗΠΑ. Από το 1776 έως σήμερα. Η εκδοχή ενός ταξιδιώτη. Εκδόσεις Σιδέρη. Αθήνα 2010. Το Σύνταγμα των ΗΠΑ ((on line στα ελληνικά: http://el.wikisource.org/wiki/Σύνταγμα_των_Ηνωμένων_Πολιτειών και στα αγγλικά http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html και http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html το Σύνταγμα της Ρωσίας (στα ελληνικά σε κακή μετάφραση http://www.greeklaws.com/pubs/uploads/2509.pdf) στα αγγλικά http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm και στα ρωσικά http://www.constitution.ru/index.htm Ιστοσελίδες για αμερικανική πολιτική https://www.politico.com https://www.realclearpolitics.com https://fivethirtyeight.com Ιστοσελίδες για την ρωσική πολιτική (και εξωτερικές σχέσεις) https://carnegie.ru/?lang=en (Carnegie Moscow Center) https://russiancouncil.ru/en/ (Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC)
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