Unstable democracy: Colombia vs Venezuela

Unstable democracy: Colombia versus Venezuela

Introduction to Comparative Politics

Final paper

Instructions and guidelines

Instructions and submission

Write a 2,000 words research essay on one of the two topics below, and respecting the guidelines presented in this document.

Also read: The Courts and the Challenge of Democracy


Unstable democracy: 

Over the past ten years, Colombia’s democracy scores have stabilized and more recently improved, whereas Venezuela’s scores have simultaneously dropped. Despite the similarities between the two countries, how can we explain their opposite trajectories?

Objectives of the assignment

The main goal of this exercise is to practice comparative thinking. You will have to apply and combine elements of the lectures and textbook chapters to contemporary cases that are of interest for comparativists in political science.

The comparative analysis is based on a variation of most similar or most different research design, which you will have to justify (why this research question? Why the comparison between these cases?).

Consequently, it is crucial that you structure your argument with hypotheses and a well-organized demonstration. The research question is already given to you in the above list of topics. Guidelines on how to write a research essay will be provided in class and posted online.

Finally, in order to succeed with this demonstration, you have to rely on academic sources dealing with similar issues and/or cases.



Below is a list of required readings for each of the two topics. This is meant as a way to: 1) show you what relevant academic sources are; and 2) help you to build your argument and find relevant material.

You need to use at least 5 academic references in addition to the ones listed here.

Democratic Instability in Colombia and Venezuela

Gamboa, Laura. 2017. “Opposition at the Margins: Strategies Against the Erosion of Democracy in Colombia and Venezuela.” Comparative Politics 49(4): 457-477.

Rochlin, James. 2011. “Who Said the Cold War is Over? The Political Economy of Strategic Conflict Between Colombia and Venezuela.” Third World Quarterly 32(2):237-260.

Weyland, Kurt. 2013. “The Threat from the Populist Left.” Journal of Democracy 24(3): 18-32.


NOTE: the textbook is not an academic reference.

In addition to these academic references, you are welcome to use non-academic sources such as journalistic sources, think tank or NGO reports, etc. Your paper should have at least ten sources altogether.

Additional guidelines on what academic sources are and how to find them will be given in class and posted online.

Unstable democracy: Colombia versus Venezuela Citations

Improper citation is by far the most common mistake leading to plagiarism. All of your citations must be referenced in both your paper and in the bibliography. References featured in the bibliography but not used in the paper will not be taken into consideration when grading your paper. Additional recommendations on how to avoid plagiarism will be given in class and posted online.

Block quotes: as a general rule of thumb, it is always better to reformulate an argument or an example taken from an academic source with your own words rather than do a direct quotation. If you need to use direct quotation, please keep in mind that the standard practice is no more than one block quote per 1,000 words, which means a maximum of two in your paper.

Citation styles: You are free to use one of the three following citation styles, as long as you pick up one only and use it consistently in your paper: APA (American Psychological Association); Chicago; MLA (Modern Language Association of America). Concordia Library’s website features style guides for all three.


Length: 2,000 words (margin of error: plus or minus 10%), excluding title page, footnotes and bibliography.

Font: Times New Roman; 12-size; double spaced; 2.5 cm margin.

Please include a title page, page numbers and a bibliography.

Please include a word count at the bottom of your title page.

Unstable democracy: Colombia versus Venezuela

Last Updated on October 9, 2020 by Essay Pro