EU4A6      Half Unit
Reconciliation and Crisis: Politics in Southern Europe

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Yaprak Gursoy CBG 7.04


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Fudan) and MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.  The course will be capped and admission is not guaranteed.

Course content

When compared with their Northern counterparts, countries that lie on the Southern flank of Europe share different historical, political and socioeconomic trajectories. The interwar period that witnessed civil wars, authoritarianism and coups d’état transitioned into a more stable period through democratisation and EU membership in the 1970s-1990s. During this period, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey (to varying extents) reconciled their long-lasting clashes between left and right politics, resettled debates over unitary versus federal structures and accommodated religious identities within politics. This phase of political resolution occurred decades later than other European countries that were also a part of the Western alliance during the Cold War.

Yet, the domestic arrangements that brought about relative stability to domestic politics in Southern Europe faced a series of new crises in the past 15 years.  The financial crisis of 2008 separated Southern European members from other EU countries, once again. As party systems changed and populist parties asserted new demands, local differences and calls for regional independence heightened. The arrival of refugees through the Mediterranean and land borders, as well as growing Euroscepticism, compounded these problems while the pandemic has added extra pressure to these crisis-ridden systems.

Taking into consideration the past and the present, this course investigates whether and to what extent Southern European countries are moving toward a new settlement. What lessons can be drawn from the period of reconciliation in the 1970s-90s? In what ways are the continuing problems the legacies of past conflicts? This course will seek answers to these questions by examining five Southern European countries through a comparative lens. While considering the unique dynamics of each country, common elements in their historical trajectories will be brought out by specifically examining the following issues: 1. the collapse of military regimes, and the process of democratisation and Europeanisation 2. economic crises and their political impact 3. rise of populist parties and party system change 4. regional governance, separatism and independence movements.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Lent Term. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 essay in the LT.

Students will lead the class discussion by presenting a topic and discussing the presentations of their classmates. In this way students will take active part in two weeks during the term and will work in pairs and  teams. Additionally, students will write a short essay of 2000 words, answering one of the discussion questions listed in the course syllabus on one Southern European country. Both types of formative assessment will give the students an opportunity to explore at length topics that were discussed in class, citing the relevant literature and engaging in discussions in oral and written form.

Students will receive guidance and feedback on their formative coursework in preparation for their summative submission.

Indicative reading

  • Yaprak Gürsoy, Between Military Rule and Democracy: Regime Consolidation in Greece, Turkey and Beyond, 2017
  • Leonardo Morlino and Francesco Raniolo, The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Southern European Democracies, 2017
  • Donatella della Porta, Massimiliano Andretta, Tiago Fernandes, Eduardo Romanos, and Markos Vogiatzoglou, Legacies and Memories in Movements: Justice and Democracy in Southern Europe, 2018
  • Robert M. Fishman, Democratic Practice: Origins of the Iberian Divide in Political Inclusion, 2019
  • Anna Bosco and Susannah Verney (eds.), The Politics of Polarisation in Southern Europe, 2020
  • Daniele Albertazzi and Davide Vampa, Populism in Europe: Lessons from Umberto Bossi’s Northern League, 2021
  • Caroline Gray, Territorial Politics and the Party System in Spain: Continuity and Change Since the Financial Crisis, 2021


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the period between LT and ST.

Students will conduct independent research through a comparative analysis of two countries in Southern Europe and write an essay on a topic relevant to the politics of these countries. Students will choose their topics in consultation with the instructor.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication