The veto player theory presented in 2002 by the American-Greek political scientist George Tsebelis (University of Michigian, Ann Arbor) is nowadays undoubtedly one of the most influential approaches in the field of political system analysis and comparative politics. At its core, Tsebelis' theory seeks to explain a country's ability to actually shape the course of politics or to put it even more simple: to govern. Which political players can modify or possibly stop (veto) legislation? How difficult is it to actually change the status quo? Are major reforms as well as basic policy changes possible at all? And how can dysfunctionalities of the political system, which in the German case are described among others as "Politikverflechtungsfalle" (engl. joint decision trap, Scharpf 1985), "Blockadepolitik" (engl. blockade policy; Benz 2003) or the "Reformstau" (engl. reform backlog, Strohmeier 2003) be theoretically explained? According to Tsebelis, all these questions can be resolved by examining the veto players in a political system and their specific relationship to each other. Therefore, in addition to the reconstruction of Tsebelis' theory, this course will focus on a detailed empirical analysis of the different veto players in German politics. Among the questions that are going to be addressed in the course are: Which and how many veto players do exist, how can they be distinguished, how do they relate to each other and how can they influence the capability to govern? Aside from the classical analysis of institutions (e.g. Federal Council, Federal President, Federal Constitutional Court = polity), we will also focus on central political processes (legislation, mediation procedures = politics) as well as policy fields (e.g. environmental and tax policy = policy) and thus, in sum, explore all three dimensions of the political sphere.
For an introduction into veto player theory, the following works are recommended to be studied:
- Tsebelis, George (1995): Decision Making in Political Systems: Veto Players in Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, Multicameralism and Multipartyism, in: British Journal of Political Science 25 (3), 289-325.
- Tsebelis, George (2002): Veto Players. How Political Institutions Work, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Tsebelis, George (2010): Veto Player Theory and Policy Change: An Introduction, in: König et al. (Hrsg.): Reform Processes and Policy Change, New York u.a.: Springer, 3-18.
For a general introduction into the subfield of German Politics have a look at:
- Langenbacher, Eric/ Conradt, David P. (2017): The German Polity, 11th edition, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Schmidt, Manfred G. (2007): Political Institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany, Oxford u.a.: Oxford University Press.
- Zolnhöfer, Reimut/ Padgett, Stephen/ Paterson, William E. (2014): Developments in German Politics Four, 4th edition, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Note: If you miss the first session of the course without making a written or personal excuse in advance, you may lose your right to attend the course if there are more interested students than available seats. This applies irrespective of Friedolin's allocation of seats and is in line with the general suspension of the attendance obligation.
1st submission deadline for term papers: 22.02.2019
2nd submission deadline for term papers: 05.04.2019