Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 2020


McGill, A. 2020. Institutional Form and its Influence on Instability Following the Assassination of a Head of State. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Ashlee McGill 2020.


The period following an assassination is one of fear and uncertainty for citizens of a nation after their leader has been assassinated. However, different nations experience assassinations differently; while some collapse and result in failed states, other nations have seen leaders rise to power. Thus, I examine how institutional forms—democracy, autocracy, and anocracy—influence and structure how a country experiences instability following the assassination of a head of state. I do this through a qualitative case study of three assassinations: John F. Kennedy of the United States in 1963; Rafael Trujillo of the Dominica Republic in 1961; and José Antonio “Chichi” Remón of Panama in 1955. The results show that although institutional form may structure how states experience instability and the assassination, they do not determine the final outcomes.