Comparative Democracy Seminar Series


Thursday, April 30, 2015, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


Ash Center, 124 Mount Auburn St., Suite 200-North, Cambridge.MA

Upcoming Events:

Compulsory Voting and Income Inequality

About the Event:
What difference does it make if more, or fewer, people vote? What difference would it make if the state made people vote? These questions are central both to normative debates about the rights and duties of citizens in a democracy and to contemporary policy debates in a variety of countries over what actions states should take to encourage electoral participation. In this seminar, Professor John Carey will address the phenomenon of compulsory voting and the legal requirements that compel citizens to vote in elections. Specifically, he will focus on a rare case of abolishing compulsory voting in Venezuela where not forcing people to vote yielded a more unequal distribution of income.

About the Speaker:
John M. Carey is the John Wentworth Professor in the Social Sciences and the chair of the Government Department at Dartmouth College. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the author or co-author of over 75 academic articles and 5 books, including Legislative Voting & Accountability (Cambridge UP 2009) and Presidents & Assemblies: Constitutional Design and Electoral Dynamics (Cambridge UP 1992). His research focuses on the design of constitutions and electoral systems, and on legislative politics. He has consulted on electoral system reform in Nepal, Afghanistan, Jordan, Tunisia, Yemen, South Sudan, Israel, Mexico, and the Philippines. Research, datasets, and citations to published work are available on his website at:

Past Events:

Nations Under God: How Churches Influence Public Policy

Thursday, February 5; 4:10-5:30

About the Event
How do churches shape public policy, and why does their influence vary across countries, even similarly religious ones? Existing accounts have focused on political parties and voters. In contrast, I argue that churches are at their most powerful when they obtain direct access to the state and policymaking institutions, writing legislation, vetting officials, and even running sectors of the state. But such access is available only to churches with high moral authority, those perceived by the public as representing the common good and national interest. Where churches in Christian democracies have gained such moral authority by dint of defending the nation against a foreign regime, state, or colonial power, they are in a position to gain institutional access – without popular backlash against overt and partisan church politicking.

About the Speaker
Anna Grzymala-Busse is the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professor of European and Eurasian Studies in the Political Science Department at the University of Michigan. She is the author of three books and several articles on political parties, corruption, post-communist political development, and religion and politics.

Market Reform, Party System (De-)Alignment, and the Crisis of Representation in Latin America

Thursday, February 12; 4:10-5:30

About the Event
This presentation will explore how economic crises and the “critical juncture” of market liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s transformed party systems and political representation in Latin America. Some patterns of market reform aligned party systems programmatically and stabilized electoral competition, whereas other patterns of reform de-aligned and destabilized party systems, leaving them highly vulnerable to extra-systemic forms of social and electoral protest in the post-reform period. The crisis of political representation in the region, as well the character of political shifts to the left since the late 1990s, have thus been heavily conditioned by divergent national experiences during the critical juncture of market reform.

About the Speaker
Kenneth M. Roberts is Professor of Government and Senior Associate Dean for the Social Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University. His teaching and research interests are focused on Latin American political economy and the politics of inequality, particularly the intersection between political parties, populism, and labor and social movements in the Andean region and the Southern Cone. He obtained his Ph.D. from Stanford University, then taught at the University of New Mexico before joining the faculty at Cornell. His most recent work, Changing Course in Latin America: Party Systems in the Neoliberal Era (Cambridge University Press, 2014), studies the transformation of party systems and political representation during the critical juncture of market liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s. He is also the author of Deepening Democracy? The Modern Left and Social Movements in Chile and Peru (Stanford University Press, 1998), and the co-editor of The Resurgence of the Latin American Left (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011) and The Diffusion of Social Movements (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Paths Out of Dixie: The Democratization of Authoritarian Enclaves in America’s Deep South, 1944-1972

Thursday, April 9, 2015; 4:10-5:30

About the Event
Professor Mickey will discuss his recent book on the recent completion of America’s belated democratization, how different southern states experienced their transition to democracy differently, and the legacies and lessons of these experiences for contemporary southern, and American, politics and economics.

About the Speaker
Robert Mickey is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Paths Out of Dixie: The Democratization of Authoritarian Enclaves in America’s Deep South, 1944-1972 (Princeton University Press). He is currently at work on a book about the politics of America’s public sector unions since 1980. In the first half of the 1990s, he worked in Prague for the EastWest Institute, a non-profit organization providing policy assistance to post-communist regimes in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the former Soviet Union. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard’s Government Department.

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