PO/IR 384 - Democracy, Populism and Public Opinion in the European Union

This course will introduce students to the political and legal nature of the European Union, the history of the European integration, the political system of the European Union, and its public policies, as well as the current issues of democracy, populism, public opinion and Euroscepticism in Europe. We will seek to understand and examine the political institutions, historical development, economic performance, and philosophical foundations of the European Union and its relationship to the EU member states in comparative perspective. Students will become familiar with history and the contemporary polity, politics, policy-making and policies of the European Union.

The course consists of eight major sections:

  • In the first section we will discuss the political and legal nature of the European Union and identify the federal and intergovernmental features of the Union. At the same time this Unit will explore the dual logic of European integration: widening and deepening.
  • The second section includes a basic multi-dimensional approach to Europe and the European Union, and discussions about the contemporary theories of European integration, including inter-govern mentalism, supra-nationalism, and multi-level governance. This second section will describe the regional integration in other continents -Asia, America and Africa- and compare those regional initiatives with the European Union.
  • In the third section, we will analyze and reconstruct the historical development and the political-philosophical justifications for the European Union.
  • The fourth section scrutinizes the European Union as a supra-national polity, covering the EU´s existing major political institutions, decision-making procedures, European legal corpus, interest groups and lobbying activities, political parties, elections and electoral behavior. This section will also deal with policy fields or European public policies including common economic and monetary policy, common agricultural policy, regional policy, environmental and social policies, justice and home affairs policy, and the common foreign and security/ security and defense policy in context of the EU as a global actor.
  • The fifth section will focus on the EU and its citizens taking public opinion and political culture into account and the attitudes of Europeans towards the European integration. At the same time, we will discuss the rise of Euroscepticism and the involvement of EU citizens through referendums on European integration and matters.
  • The sixth section will analyze the rising ideologies in Europe such as right-wing populism and its main rhetoric -anti-globalization, ethno-nationalism, and anti-elitism-, electoral performance and experience in national cabinets.
  • The seventh section will treat the role of religion in the process of European integration, the Turkish EU application, and how Westerners and Muslims see each other in Europe and in the world.
  • And finally, the eighth section will treat the main current concerns and challenges of the European Union such as the future of the Euro-Zone and the particular case of Greece; the nationalist forces in some European regions –Scotland, Catalonia, Flanders, etc., and the challenge to integrate our European regions in the EU; the potential consequences of Brexit, and the external action of the EU.

Course Information


International Relations
Political Science

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