Introduction to Comparative Politics 1120-203
Country Paper Assignment
Pick a country different from the United States. In the paper, you will analyze the country along with the main topics we discuss in class: democracy, economic development, institutions, and civil war and violence. The objective is to apply theories, concepts, and arguments we have discussed in the course to understand the country’s situation.
Some questions you will find useful while researching your country, and that you can answer in your essay are:
• What is the situation of democracy in country X? Are there any challenges to democratic stability? If it is a country in democratic transition, what are the main challenges for the consolidation of democracy?
• Are elections free and fair? What are the main problems with elections/political parties?
• What are the major challenges for economic development? What type of economic policies has the government of country X promoted?
• Does (or has) country X experienced civil war or violence? What are the causes of this violence? What are the main challenges for reducing violence?
• If your country is doing well economically and politically, think about how you can explain these successes and the historic process that led to those successes.
How to go about your paper:
1. Once you choose your country start looking for information. Below I provide you with some ideas about where to go for information. Wikipedia is a starting point, but it is not an academic source and you cannot rely on it as an only source. I will also be checking very closely for “Wikipedia” type papers.
2. Start with the basic facts such as geographic location, population, recent history. Do not spend more than a page on these. Proceed with the political regime variables – unitary or federal state, republic or monarchy, democracy, or authoritarian regime. Then assess the main challenges you think country X faces regarding economic development, democracy, or civil conflict. You can choose to focus on discussing just one major area (i.e., democracy) but you should at least mention challenges in the other areas (development, institutions, violence).
3. Using the theories discussed in class, analyze the causes of the particular challenges that country X faces (or its successes). For example, you can analyze how polarization among elites affects the prospects for democracy in country XX. Please use at least seven of the concepts (ID terms) we covered during the semester and underline them in the text. For example: “The electoral system in Colombia is based on proportional representation and this creates fragmentation between political forces”
4. Cite all sources of information and provide a list with all the sources you used at the end of your paper in the bibliography. Do not plagiarize! Copy pasting from different sources without providing appropriate references constitutes plagiarism. Also, avoid using long quotes.
Many sources of information are available when researching your country of choice. Here are some you can use:
– Wikipedia (to start)
– CIA World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html
– The Library of Congress Country Studies site: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/bytoc.html,
– Gapminder.com for graphs of economic and political variables
– Freedom House http://www.freedomhouse.org/ Countrywatch.com
– International Crisis Group www.crisisgroup.org
– World Bank http://data.worldbank.org/country
– World Values Survey
– United Nations Development Program (country offices)
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