Democratic Transition and Democratic Sustainability in the Mediterranean

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Course Information
Political Science
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 



This course offers an overview of a highly fascinating region of the world – the Mediterranean – that offers great insights into two central topics: the causes of democratic instability and the related processes of democratization and democratic consolidation. Many countries of the Mediterranean region, in particular in Southern Europe, struggled greatly over the course of the 20th century to establish representative governments, and political strife often erupted in outright violence. Nevertheless, despite their authoritarian legacies Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece overcame them in favor of establishing successful democracies, while other countries regularly experienced military coups and authoritarian forms of government, such as in Turkey.

More recently, from late 2010 onwards, a chain of popular uprisings shook the southern banks of the Mediterranean reviving the hopes of further democratization in the region in authoritarian regimes until recently thought stable, as several rulers were forced from power in Tunisia and Egypt. Other countries throughout the region experienced massive protests as well, resulting in diverse outcomes, ranging from foreign intervention and Civil War in Libya and Syria, to timid reforms elsewhere.

The course will first review the process of democratization from a theoretical perspective (classes 1 to 3), and then cover three group of countries with similar and specific characteristics: Italy and Spain which transitioned to successful democracies (classes 4 to 6); Greece and Turkey who experienced a more troubled paths to representative governments and which political systems are regularly under the threat of a democratic fall back (classes 8 to 10), and finally, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia which have all experienced massive protest calling for a democratic transition resulting in widely different outcomes (classes 11 to 13).

This course forms part of the IES Abroad Independent Research Program. It can be combined with the Introduction to Research Module for an additional 1 credit.