Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Assistant Professor: Adrian J. Shin

Second Advisor

Associate Professor: Jennifer Fitzgerald

Third Advisor

Instructor: Jason Potter


Why do some regimes survive while others fail? Conventional literature emphasizes the impact that a country’s institutional structure and resource-wealth has on its political stability. My research investigates the institutional structures of two states, Venezuela, and Trinidad and Tobago, under the period of colonization. The model looks at the distinct tactics and decisions utilized by different colonial powers. These decisions created contrasting institutional structures in the two countries. The institutional structures either benefitted or constrained domestic actors, altering the likelihood that measures of constitutional change or institutional overthrow would occur. The model controls for resource-wealth in order to uncover the mechanisms that facilitate political stability in resource-rich environments. The findings suggest that an inclusive institutional structure is more likely to be formed when a colonial power settles in a colony and incentivizes migration. In periods before and after independence, domestic actors were less likely to overthrow the institutional structure when the colonial power established a degree of institutional performance. The impact that resource-wealth has on political stability is most significant when constitutional consolidation is allowed. In conclusion, colonial institutions precede domestic alterations and as a result, certain alterations become more likely than others.