Most countries in the world now hold some form of electoral process, yet these elections vary widely in the degree to which they are democratic. Central questions in the junior seminar include the following: How and why do elections matter? Can they lead to democracy in very undemocratic settings? How well do theories of elections in democratic countries explain elections in politically volatile environments? What is different about elections in countries that are not already democratic? How has the international emphasis on elections influenced the global spread of elections? How do international actors influence elections and democratization? What are the long-term consequences of electoralism, and what does this mean for democratization? What does the US turn away from democracy mean for elections around the world? This seminar will explore these questions by examining literature within comparative politics and international relations. Although the assigned readings contain some introductory pieces, the majority of the reading is more contemporary work from leading scholars in political science and the course should not be considered an introduction to the study of democracy or elections.
Intro to IR and Intro to Comparative are recommended as preparation.