Your paper will be a country ‘case study on Portugal.’ For this project you first choose a state from the list below.
• Demographics. Give a brief overview of the population. Write about the population size, its density, the relative size of its generations, and the existence of any identity divisions (such as ethnicities, cultures, languages, classes), as well as any other factors that are politically, economically, or socially relevant.
• History. Briefly summarize the major historical events and personalities that have shaped the current government structure, or otherwise influenced political developments in the country. Don’t try to mention every important event but pay particular attention to “watershed” events, that is, events that caused significant changes in the social, political, or economic life of the country.
• Political culture. Examine the ethnic, religious, or linguistic divisions within the country, emphasizing the impact these divisions have had on the political development of the country, and what the government has done (if anything) about those divisions.
• Structure of government. Describe the general structure and organization of the government. Identify the key state institutions such as executive and bureaucratic offices, legislative bodies, high courts, etc. State what the powers and duties are of these institutions, and how they operate (or fail to operate, as the case may be).
For example, if you were doing your country study on the United States you would describe it as a federal republic with three co-equal branches of government at the national level, fifty sub-national governments. You would explain the division of powers between the federal and state governments (“federalism”) and describe the powers and duties of each of the three branches of the federal government (“separation of powers”), and the system of checks and balances. Within each branch you would identify the key offices and agencies (executive branch would include the office of the president, the cabinet departments and other agencies of the bureaucracy; the legislative branch consists of the House and the Senate, etc.) and explain what they do, and how they do it. You would also emphasize the role of courts, and comment on the degree of independence with which they operate, and the power of the courts to hold the other branches accountable.
• Electoral system, if applicable. Describe the type of electoral system used in the country, and identify the key offices staffed by elected officials. Analyze the fairness of the electoral system in comparison with that of other countries.
• Human rights. Here you should refer to reports from human rights organizations, news reports, and reports from the US and other governments regarding respect for and protection of human rights.
• Role of political parties. Identify the major political parties, if any, and describe their ideologies. Explain the impact each has had, or wishes to have, on the political system of the country.
• The economic system. Describe the state of the economy in the country, including GDP, GDP per capita, general stage of development, pattern of income distribution, major imports and exports, and major trading partners. Indicate the degree to which the government tries to manage or direct the economy, and how it does so. Describe any significant welfare state programs in the country if possible, or the country’s general approach to welfare programs.
• Classify the regime type, based on what you’ve learned in class about the different kinds of regimes. Explain whether the regime is a democratic one or an authoritarian one, or something in between. If it’s an authoritarian regime, explain what kind it is. Explain clearly why you think the regime should be thus classified.
• The major political issues the government of the country is currently dealing with. Here you will have to research news reports from reputable organizations to know what’s going on. Focus on the major issues the country is faced with, and what the country’s government is doing (or failing to do) about them.
As I read and evaluate your papers I will be very interested in seeing how well you have integrated the concepts we have studied in the course into your paper. Bear that in mind as you write it; the degree to which your paper reflects understanding of these concepts will have a direct bearing on your grade.
Your paper must be typed, double-spaced, 12-point font exactly, Calibri or Arial. There is no set requirement for length, though I expect your paper to consist of between eight to ten substantive pages (excluding charts, graphs, photos, etc., and list of resources used). The information in the paper must address the topics described above. Charts and diagrams are encouraged if they support the points you are making (add them to the end as appendices).
Include a list of sources you actually used at the end of your paper (the list does NOT count as one of your 8-10 ‘substantive’ pages).
Make sure your paper doesn’t contain contradictions. I’ve seen papers that say, for instance, that a particular institution in a country is responsible for “A”, and later on the paper says that another institution is responsible for “A”.
Be consistent with spelling. Don’t capitalize a term in some cases but not in others. I’ve seen many papers that will capitalize every other use of terms like “president” or “legislature.” That’s not good. Capitalize proper nouns (“President Smith signed the bill…”) but not generic nouns (the president signs bills into law or vetoes them”). If you are giving the name of a particular, unique, government institution such as “the House of Representatives” you capitalize it. If you are referring to the legislative branch in general, you don’t. Example: “The president submits his budget first to the House of Representatives. From there is goes to the Senate.” Note that “the president” is a generic term (it’s not a specific president, it could be anyone who’s president), but that “the House of Representatives” is a specific, unique institution, as is the Senate.
Have someone proof read your paper before you turn it in. Do not trust your own ability to spot spelling and grammatical errors. Also, having someone else read your paper can help you identify parts of it which are not clear, or are not organized logically.
Finally, when you are referring to events in the past, please use the past tense. For example, you might write “The Normans invaded England in 1066,” not “In 1066 the Normans invade England.” I hate trying to read things like that.