Unformatted text preview: Mexican Politics
"Poor Mexico...so far from God, and so close to the United States! -Porfirio Diaz I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map...* *This is what happens when the last thing the instructor hears on his way out the door in the morning is the kids' Dora the Explorer DVD... Mexican Politics: edging towards democracy?
Political system in place since 1917 has promoted (relative) stability at the cost of democratization Ruling party (Institutional Revolutionary Party) has presided over significant socioeconomic development (Mexican economy is 10th largest in world) but much of country's promise remains unfulfilled Setting
103.5 million people High geographic and ethnic diversity Primarily urban, although 25 million still live in rural areas Regionalism: North more industrialized, closer ties with US, higher % of whites; center more "urbane" and sophisticated, mestizo; south more rural, higher concentration of indigenous people Evolution of Mexican Politics
PRI dominated Mexican politics until 2000, with election of PAN candidate Vicente Fox Power in Mexican system overwhelmingly concentrated in presidency; power also concentrated in central government, not states (despite federal constitution) Heavy state intervention in Mexican economy; strong control over interest groups (corporatism) Two other features: clientelism and corruption Historical background
Aztec empire defeated by conquistadores from Spain in 1519; large degree of intermarriage and interbreeding between Spanish colonialists and indigenous tribes High degree of exploitation of indigenes by colonialists (mining, agriculture) Independence resulted from split between pro-Spain and anti-Spain colonialists, not from revolt by mestizos or Indians Early political conflicts in Mexico
Split between Conservatives (pro-Church, promonarchy, strong central govt) and Liberals (anti-Church, anti-monarchy, federal system a la United States) led to high degree of instability in Mexican politics in 19th c. Instability weakened Mexican state, allowed US to defeat Mexico and annex present-day California, AZ, NM, Texas, etc. Struggles against foreign intervention (US, France, etc.) have helped forge Mexican national identity The "Porfiriato"
Rule of dictator Porfirio Diaz characterized by high levels of economic growth, penetration of Mexican economy by foreign investors (esp Americans), racist policies directed against indigenous inhabitants Many Mexicans felt cheated of benefits of development, rise in economic nationalism; peasants in villages increasingly forced off of communal lands (ejidos) Diaz overthrown in 1910 at beginning of Mexican Revolution Mexican Revolution
Bloody civil war: nearly 1,000,000 dead, much destruction of property Factions included peasants seeking more land, political liberals, economic nationalists Despite destruction, revolutionary experience helped break down regional barriers and forge stronger national ID "Constitutionalists" triumphed; new constitution reserved mineral and oil rights to Mexico, enacted some land reforms, legalized org labor, reduced power of Catholic Church The creation of PRI
After assassination of President Obregon in 1928, renewed civil war loomed; party leaders under Plutarco Calles created new political party to solve problem of political succession New system permitted circulation of elites within party, forbade re-election, increased power of presidency at expense of other institutions Political reforms under PRI
Lazaro Cardenas (1934-40) instituted reforms associated with PRI system Land reform: creation of ejido system Established National Peasant Confederation to represent peasants Labor organization: created Mexican Workers' Federation, corporatist-style "peak assn" Nationalized oil industry; US permitted this since it was distracted by coming war in Europe Political institutions
Ruling party was organized into four sectors representing workers (CTM), peasants (CNC), military, and state bureaucrats Members of sectoral groups had privileged access to decision makers Interest groups instrumental in mobilizing voters for elections; ruling party seldom lost Primary institution: presidency
Mexican presidency holds primary levers of power within system; described as "constitutional," "metaconstitutional," and "anticonstitutional" Constitutional: those powers formally given to Mexican president Metaconstitutional: amendment power, role of "chief legislator," designation of successor, domination of lower levels of govt. (customary norms) Anti-constitutional: ability to violate legal code and avoid prosecution (weak rule of law) Presidency, cont.
President dominates legislative process; no presidential bill blocked from 1930s through 1990s Advantages of incumbency and power over corporatist groups consolidated PRI power Inability to seek re-election for most posts makes PRI members dependent upon president Career incentives for PRI members
Most high positions forbid re-election; in order to advance within party members must seek out new positions every three to six years Clientelism (patron-client relationships) essential part of system Dependence upon president for career advancement meant little resistance to his agenda, little concern for constituents (since pols couldn't be re-elected anyway) Central government dominated local govts despite formal federal arrangements How did central govt dominate local govts?
Federal government collects largest portion of tax revenues which are then "shared" with local governments, giving the latter strong incentive to make nice with federal government State and local politicians had to stay on good side of president, lowered returns from challenging executive Absence of re-election meant no local political machines Mexico and the conditions for democracy
1. State institutions: absence of re-election meant no means of keeping politicians accountable to electorate; presidential sovereignty replaced popular sovereignty 2. Elites: PRI leadership had vested interest in maintaining political monopoly BUT some liberal elements within PRI have supported greater rule of law in order to maintain political legitimacy and intra-elite stability Conditions, cont.
3. Homogeneity: Mexico divided between those of European descent (blancos), mixed descent (mestizos), and indigenous peoples (Indios). The latter are socially, economically, and politically marginalized 4. National wealth: high levels of overall development but extremely high level of inequality which hinders development of democracy (rich fear redistribution at hands of politically empowered poor) Conditions, cont.
5. Private enterprise: large private sector and market economy but significant state intervention: state has historically subsidized loans, protected industries from foreign competition, built infrastructure, preferentially allocated contracts to favored businesses; many Mexicans were economically dependent upon PRI and reluctant to challenge its monopoly on power Conditions for democracy
6. Middle class: middle class is divided between those most dependent upon PRI (e.g. employees of state, teachers, politicallyconnected businesspeople) and those with greater latitude to criticize party 7. Support of disadvantaged: many would support greater political openness but do not have opportunity to do so; dominance of PRI over labor and peasant groups limits their voice and options to criticize govt Conditions, cont.
8. Political culture, participation, etc.: PRI patronage networks and clientelism have decreased incentives for civil society by dispensing benefits on individual basis (it's cheaper and less politically risky to do so on individual rather than group basis); democratic attitudes and support for democracy constrained by government institutions and policies Cultural and informational influences on democracy
9. Education and freedom of information: higher education correlates with lower support for PRI; in poorer, illiterate areas, PRI is stronger (voters in those areas more vulnerable to coercion, "persuasion") Mexican press politically docile until 1970s; TV and radio strongly controlled by PRI until last decade or so; most Mexicans get their news from radio/TV so media' capacity to check power limited Economic development
ISI pursued by Mexican state after WWII, created "Mexican miracle" until 1970s; high growth, urbanization, industrialization Downsides: unequal growth, worsening conditions for peasantry, cities incapable of providing services to poor; commercial agriculture grew at expense of peasants Increase in rural immigration to US ("safety valve" for Mexican state, source of cheap labor for US) Economic policies, cont.
ISI's last gasp in 1970s high levels of government spending Government of Lopez Portillo (1976--82) spent lavishly, borrowed from Western banks using projected oil revenues as collateral; oil prices dropped, set off debt crisis worldwide Economic restructuring aimed at re-orienting economy; neo-liberalism reduced size of state sector but disproportionately affected poor Features of neo-liberal reform in Mexico
Lowered barriers to imports (weakened protection for domestic industries) Reduction or elimination of state subsidies on staples (cooking oil, tortillas) Lowered social spending Privatization of state-owned enterprises Lowered barriers to foreign investment Outcomes of economic reforms
Higher levels of foreign investment, increased competitiveness of Mexican industry Increased economic growth Social costs: greater levels of income inequality, higher unemployment; ending subsidies hurt poor more than wealthy or middle class Increase in size of informal economy Financial crisis of 1994--95
Sudden withdrawal of foreign capital in response to investors' concerns about continued growth of Mexican economy More unemployment, emigration to US; Mexican exports more competitive but consumers of imported goods hurt Mexican currency saved by bailout plan assembled by Clinton and US Congress Democratization in Mexico
Multiple challenges to PRI hegemony in Mexico: Opposition party governors in several states Opposition party mayors in Mexico City, Monterrey, Ciudad Juarez Grassroots organizations created to weaken PRI's clientelist networks Armed rebellion in Chiapas directed against govt. Factors behind democratization in Mexico
Modernization: increased urbanization and industrialization changed the structure of Mexican society the society in which Cardenas created peak orgs in 1930s no longer existed; increased heterogeneity of interests (the more interests, the harder it is to create policies that will please the majority); however, modernization alone does not explain PRI's decline Policy and Political Problems for PRI
First policy failure: 1968 student protests directed against high cost of Mexico's hosting Olympic games; demonstrations violently suppressed (death toll still unknown) Second failure: debt crisis of 1980s; government demonstrated incompetence by squandering money from oil boom, then nationalizing banks (which strengthened PAN) Policy and Political Problems for PRI, cont.
Neo-liberal economic adjustment policies which disproportionately affected poor and working class strengthened left wing led by PRI defectors 1985: Government's inept response to earthquake in Mexico City cost it prestige and compelled citizens to form self-help groups to organize relief efforts 1988: Probable electoral victory by opposition candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas quashed by PRI fraud Political Opposition in Mexico
1977: Government lowered entry barriers to new political parties and reserved 100/400 seats in Chamber of Deputies for opposition parties (the hope being that the opposition would compete against itself) Electoral watchdog agency made independent from government in 1990s; campaign finance rules reformed too New parties
Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD): formed by left-wing defectors from PRI; party has been unable to articulate a coherent ideology since economic nationalism no longer viable policy; faction-ridden but still able to mount viable electoral challenge to both PRI and PAN, especially in poorer regions in the South New parties, cont.
National Action Party (PAN): Currently holds several state governorships as well as presidency under V. Fox (2000-- present); main party of gradual/legal reform; pro-market, positions itself as more "reasonable" opposition alternative to more "radical" leftist PRD; mostly middle-class in orientation, although more "catch-all" in recent years Media and politics in Mexico
Televisa (primary TV network) formally strong supporter of PRI; however, in 2000 Televisa and TV Azteca (other major network) remained neutral Print media more critical over past 20 years; eroding government monopolies on advertising and newsprint supply weakening PRI's control over print media Human rights in Mexico
Fox's government has declassified information on Mexican security forces' "dirty war" against leftists in 1960s and 1970s (abuses included torture, executions, and "disappearances") Government's HR record still spotty: corruption, torture, drug trafficking still problematic; >200 Mexican journalists killed over past 10 years; HR activists threatened by government agents Conclusions re: democratization in Mexico
State institutions no longer solely controlled by PRI; administrative decentralization also weakening power of center Elites: PRI and opposition elites alike not likely to favor return to old-school singleparty dominance, but "dinosaurs" within PRI still resisting reform Conclusions, cont.
Homogeneity: indigenous people more assertive, more inclined to assert their rights and make demands on government (allies found within intelligentsia and political elite); Chiapas rebellion attracted international attention and support National wealth: inequality still a problem; regional poverty in south linked to globalization Conclusions, cont.
Private enterprise: more entrepreneurs supporting PAN; wealthy beneficiaries of PRI policies still support party, though Middle class: strongly support democratization and both opposition parties (PAN and PRD) Disadvantaged: corporatist control of workers and peasants by PRI orgs has broken down Conclusions, cont.
Participation and civil society: numerous NGOs, associations, and advocacy groups supporting wide variety of causes; more awareness and support for political reform Education/freedom of info: fewer illiterates means more critical, demanding electorate; journalistic quality improved as well International environment: largely favorable, especially w/media attention during elections Politics in Brazil
Eleventh largest economy in world Fifth most populous country in world; Sao Paulo alone has 18 million people Largest country in Latin America Chronic political instability, severe governability problems between center and regions, one of the worst income distributions in world The obligatory map Regionalism in Brazil
Roughly divided into four regions: Northeast: poorest region in country; once center of sugar production; drought-stricken; home to 28% of population Southeast: richest, most industrialized region; major cities (Sao Paulo, Rio, Belo Horizante) located here; wealth based on coffee; 39% of population South: mostly temperate, agrarian; 14% of population West/Amazon: 13% of population; has suffered severe environmental degradation as a result of government development policies Maps of regions and land usage Land usage map Socioeconomic development
Brazil pursued ISI policies similar to Mexico's beginning in 1930s Expansionist fiscal policies Protectionism Infrastructural development (roads, bridges) High level of state participation in economy High population growth, urbanization Highly complex, almost ungoverable society Political development
Main features of Brazilian politics: frequent military intervention in political system Some interventions short-lived, but military controlled political system for >two decades (1964--85) Interventionist state: financing, infrastructure, regulation State corporatism: control of interest groups (labor, business) Clientelism and corruption: patron-client ties have frequently led to abuse of public resources Political Development, cont.
Federalism: states have sought greater autonomy from central government at same time that central government, concerned about fragmentation and national security, has sought to increase control over states Weakness of party system: parties are personalistic/regional vehicles for attaining political power; usually undisciplined, little sense of national (rather than particularistic) interest Brief historical background
Region colonized by Portugal Independence declared by Dom Pedro I, who proclaimed the Brazilian Empire (1822--89) Monarchy overthrown by coffee grower-backed military coup in 1889 Old Republic: formally democratic but power monopolized by coffee-growing So Paulo and cattle-ranching Minas Gerais (politics of caf com leite); two states dominated political system, rotated power; local rule through coroneis (analogous to Mexican caciques) Historical background, cont.
Military intervened in 1930 as political elites grew more polarized, installed Getulio Vargas as president Vargas and Estado Nvo (1930--45): Threatened by neo-fascist integralista movement and communist-inspired National Liberation Alliance (both movements manipulated by Vargas), Vargas imposed dictatorship The Estado Nvo
The Estado Nvo concentrated power in the hands of the central government at the expense of the states Labor movement was controlled by state-run corporatist organization that kept working class politics under control State intervention in economy increased Centralization of power placed geographic power distribution issues at center of Brazilian politics (centralism v. federalism) Restoration of democracy
Brazilian participation in WWII on Allies' side created political dilemma: how could dictatorship fight to preserve democracy? Democratic government restored 1946 (Second Republic, 1946--64) Vargas elected president in 1951, but fear among anti-communist military of his drift to the left led to his overthrow and suicide in 1954 Instability under Second Republic
Left/populist governments under Kubitschek produced high growth and industrialization but also created trade imbalance and inflation problems Ascension of Joo Goulart (left-leaning politician) to presidency increased anxiety among members of military Goulart faced economic crisis: inflation, leftist mobilization of workers, opposition from right wing; Goulart tried to gain support through land reform policies but was overthrown by military Military rule: 1964--85
Military practiced selective repression of dissidents on left, less severe than that directed against "subversives" in Chile after 1973 or Argentina after 1976 Military allowed democratic institutions to continue functioning, albeit with severe restrictions and after manipulating rules Existing political parties abolished in 1966 Most repressive stage: 1968--74; president given sweeping powers to control opposition Repression under military
Military delegated most anti-opposition responsibilities to intelligence agency (National Intelligence Service, or SNI) SNI's autonomy and tactics worried more "liberal" members of military who feared it might turn on them Power centralized at expense of legislature and state governments Moderates began slow liberalization process in 1974 Political "Decompression"
Military govt created artificial parties: ARENA (pro-regime) and Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) Despite weakness and strict electoral rules, opposition still won elections Military's developmental policies increased GDP but increased debt (borrowed during 1970s) and worsened inequality Military's legacy in Brazil
Environmental damage in Amazon due to largescale "development" projects (deforestation, desertification) Unworkable developmental model High levels of debt Bloated bureaucracy Income inequality Weak political parties Over-centralized government Democratization in Brazil
Opposition candidate Tancredo Neves wins ballot in 1985 but dies before taking office; Progovernment candidate Jos Sarney takes office Gridlock between congress and president resulted in Sarney's resort to extensive presidential patronage politics; hyperinflation ensued (2,000% by end of term) Successor Fernando Color de Mello resigned after impeachment on corruption charges in 1992 (ironically after being elected on anticorruption platform...) Democratization in Brazil, cont.
Opposition fought military rule on two fronts: Electoral arena: opposition party fought military's allies Non-electoral arena: grassroots associations, labor movement fought for democratization of local governments Military controlled timing and pace of democratization process Why did Brazilian government take authoritarian route?
State institutions: presidentialism combined with weak parties lead to permanent minority coalitions in congress; federalism led legislators to vote against their parties' bills if local constituents opposed them; presidents tempted to rule by decree or otherwise bypass legislature Obstacles to democracy, cont.
Elite commitment: Traditional elites, including local political bosses (coroneis), governors, and other local actors, respected letter but not spirit of democratic rule (democracy a means to an end rather than an end in itself) Military elites: lukewarm to hostile to democracy Technocrats staffing state bureaucracy wanted masses demobilized in order to "plan" the economy more rationally Obstacles, cont.
Social cleavages: ethnic and racial differences less salient in Brazil than in US or other societies; ethnicity a cause of prejudice but not ethnic conflict National wealth, maldistribution: Brazil's national wealth highest on continent, but income distribution is highly unequal; rural poverty, landlessness permit local political bosses to dominate political system (local bosses quick to use violence to bolster their rule); populist politicians promising relief for poor push upper and middle classes towards authoritarian responses Obstacles, cont.
Private enterprise: private sector initially supported military regime, which controlled inflation and working class mobilization, but began to oppose regime after being excluded from investment opportunities Middle class: middle class favored democracy but stability and prosperity as well; middle class turned against military when its children began to be arrested as "subversives" Obstacles, cont.
Disadvantaged never in a position to act on democratic preferences even if they had them; labor unions controlled by state until 1977 with rise of "new unionism" movement; grassroots groups supported democratization but were vulnerable to military repression until onset of political "decompression" in 1970s Obstacles, cont.
Citizen participation, civil society, political culture: during Second Republic, many groups were semi-loyal at best to democratic institutions; strong tradition of patrimonialism (sense that social and economic resources are the "property" of high-ranking political actors) also weakened democracy; low levels of education also weakened civil society Obstacles, cont.
Education, freedom of information: like Mexico, Brazil's mass media strongly biased towards TV rather than print; high levels of illiteracy and limited years of schooling as recently as 1997; regime control of TV simplified task of controlling public's access to news International environment: US helped 1964 coup leaders overthrow Goulart (sympathetic to conservatives/anti-communists within Brazil); coup might have happened anyway, but US supported it nonetheless Democratization since 1985
Opposition politician Tancredo Neves indirectly elected president in 1985 but died prior to assuming office; VP Jose Sarney took over Sarney had to engage in patronage politics in congress in order to get bills passed, which undermined policy coherence 1989: Fernando Collor de Mello elected but impeached in 1992; Itamar Franco took power, followed by Henrique Cardoso and Workers' Party candidate Ignacio da Silva ("Lula") Why did authoritarianism collapse in Brazil?
Military split from within between hardliners (duros) and softliners or liberals (blandos); also, liberal elements feared the SNI Successful repression of leftist "threat" removed part of rationale of military rule Military sought to increase its popularity by reducing repression but also stacked electoral deck with pro-military pols Authoritarian collapse, cont.
Economic problems mounted for military regime: high levels of debt resulting from post-oil crisis borrowing binge, increased labor militancy Critical allies began to abandon regime: businesspeople who saw state-run enterprises created under military govt as competitors for markets and resources and who resented lack of bureaucratic accountability; private sector also began to oppose military mismanagement of economy Authoritarian collapse, cont.
Elements of middle class deserted regime when stability promised by military was exceeded by threat of government repression; benefits of supporting authoritarianism began to be exceeded by costs Poor (urban and rural) began to organize and to promote wide variety of causes: environmentalism, women's rights, better access to public services; Catholic Church also became more vocal supporter of democratization New Republic and its political institutions
Separation of powers system: president (directly elected) is head of state and head of govt; bicameral congress (Chamber of Deputies and Senate) Powers of both houses roughly equal Supreme Court has power of judicial review State governors (26 in all) also have ample powers Political System, cont.
Presidents have difficult time assembling legislative majorities for their initiatives Large number of weak parties Representatives chosen by PR; each state (plus fed district) serves as electoral district Composition of each party's delegation depends on number of individual write-in votes each candidate receives; name recognition more critical than party label or affiliation Name recognition comes from either political patronage and rewarding constituents with pork Porky pathologies
Dependence upon patronage rather than party discipline means that representatives will concentrate on rewarding constituents in district even if that means crossing party lines; little incentives for party loyalty Weak parties: much party switching, both during and after elections; parties do not hold representatives accountable to electorate Legislation thus has high transaction costs: president must assemble coalitions of support issue by issue; dependence on pork makes controlling spending difficult and increases inflation Pathological pork and the presidency
Presidents contribute to environment of clientelism by using federal budget allocations and federal jobs to reward supporters in congress (supporters may demand more when next vote comes around, though) Legislature has vested interest in status quo and little support for reform Federalism in Brazil
Congress overrepresents smaller states from Northeast and Amazon, both of which are poorer and more dependent upon central govt support Apx half of government tax revenues returned to state and local govts w/o explicit mandates; funds then used for patronage and influencing congressional delegates Women in Brazilian politics
Women's movements emerged with liberalization of overall political system in 1970s and 1980s, demanded greater political representation and policy reforms (e.g. day care, abortion rights). Catholic Church and culture of male supremacy has hampered development of feminism in Brazil; women still politically underrepresented Human Rights in Brazil
Weak central government, local political bosses, economic inequality have contributed to widespread human rights violations (torture, forced labor, killings) Peasant activists (e.g. MST) have been killed by local politicos Prevalence of street crime in major cities has led to covert support for killings of street children (apx. 3/day in Rio); corrupt judiciary seldom convicts suspects Comparisons between Mexico and Brazil
Strong central state makes fragmentation unlikely Local corruption and patronage problematic in both states, but state structure in Brazil worsens problem Both states have struggled to reform post-ISI economies Corruption: Brazil ranks 59th in 2004 CPI, Mexico 64th (n=145) Income inequality problematic in both cases Conclusions, cont.
Mexico's more sophisticated media, higher level of literacy, and proximity to US may provide advantages in democratic consolidation Mexico's party system more developed, less prone to party switching, higher level of party discipline Human rights violations especially prevalent outside urban areas less police accountability, legacy of "dirty wars" against leftists and other dissidents ...
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- Spring '05
- Mexico City, PRI, high levels, Institutional Revolutionary Party