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POLVOA31/S27 Scandinavian Politics Today III: W(h)ither the 'Nordic Model' 5–10 ECTS
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Intermediate studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Degree Programme in Politics
Political Science
School of Management

General description

Aims: 1) To describe, analyse, compare and contrast the nature of politics and policy-making in the five Nordic states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden 2) To adopt a thematic approach to understanding politics in the region

Objectives/outcomes: 1) At the end of the course students should be able critically to review the main features of the political systems of the Nordic countries and to place Finnish practice in a wider comparative perspective. The broad focus in this final teaching period will be on legislative-executive relations and i) whether there is a distinctive Nordic parliamentarism, and ii) whether there is a Nordic model of government and iii) whether there has been a 'presidentialisation' of the executive. Topics covered will include 'How democratic are the Nordic parliaments?' The corollary of this question will be determining the evaluative criteria and reflecting on the influence of the premises of participatory democracy and deliberative democracy in the region. Referenda and citizens' initiatives. A discussion of semi-presidential government will take due note of the new constitution in Iceland and changes to the presidential office in Finland.  the size, structure and partisan composition of governments; the frequency of minority governments (Denmark, Sweden and earlier Norway); 'surplus majority' governments (Finland); the shift towards 'bloc coalitions and potential alternation in government (Norway and Sweden); the persistence of across-the-blocs, 'anything goes' governments in Finland; The government at work (including informal sessions); the demise of semi-president government in Finland; what sort of president do Finns want? Towards a 'presidential' prime minister in the Scandinavian countries?


The course will be structured around four overarching themes:

  1. Rules, behaviour and Nordic democracy in comparative perspective: Did Lijphart get it right?
  2. The Scandinavian model of government: Is it just a distant memory?
  3. Is there a distinctive Nordic model of parliamentarism?
  4. Is there a ‘crisis of democracy’ in the Nordic states?

Seminar questions will include:

a)     What do Nordic MPs do?

b)    Can we speak of prime ministerial government in Scandinavia?

c)     ‘Minority governments work best where they are most common’ How far is this true in Scandinavia?

d)    ‘The institution of the presidency is simply outdated’

e)    How useful is the notion of ‘policy style’?

f)      Does Scandinavian government deserve its reputation for transparency?

Enrolment for University Studies

Email registration to david.arter@uta.fi by March 1 essential


David Arter, Teacher responsible


18-Mar-2014 – 24-Apr-2014
Lectures 24 hours
Tue 18-Mar-2014 - 15-Apr-2014 weekly at 14-16, Main building D11
Thu 20-Mar-2014 - 24-Apr-2014 weekly at 14-16, Main building D10b
17-Apr-2014 , No lectures


Numeric 1-5.

Evaluation criteria


Lecture attendance/seminar participation + course essay


Huom!! This replaces the earlier essay title

Maximum length: 6 double-spaced A4 pages in English or Finnish

Deadline: May 5th

David Arter, Scandinavian Politics Today Second Edition contains basic information

Supplementary Reading will be posted later