Did you know Mexico City is the 2nd largest city
in the world?
*Adapted from AP Comparative Government and Politics by Ethel Wood.
Zapatistas and Chiapas
Newly industrialized countries
Sovereignty, Authority and
Spanish arrival in early 16th century
Centralized and authoritarian rule
Significant economic growth and
decentralization reshaping political
Revolution of 1910-1911
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
Divisions within elite
Instability and legitimacy issues
Some important characteristics of the national identity are:
The importance of religion
Some geographical features that have influenced the
political development of Mexico are:
Mountains and deserts, varied climates
A long (2000-mile-long) border with the
106 million population
Political and Economic
Independence in 1821
From 1519 to 1821 Spain controlled the area that is
Social status hierarchy, with Spanish born in Spain on
top and the native Amerindians on the bottom.
Colonialism left several enduring influences:
NEW COUNTRY (1810-1911)
Spain finally recognized Mexico's independence
Stability and order did not follow, with a total of
thirty-six presidents serving between 1833 and
Important influences during this period were:
instability and legitimacy issues -
rise of the military.
domination by the United States
liberal vs. conservative struggle
Porfirio Diaz - one of Juarez's generals - staged a military coup in
1876 and instituted himself as the President of Mexico with a
promise that he would not serve more than one term of office.
Ruled Mexico with an iron hand for 34 years.
Influences of the "Porfiriato" are:
foreign investment and economic growth
growing gap between the rich and the poor
Diaz' regime ended with a coup from within the elite, sparking the
Revolution of 1910.
Influences since 1910
The Revolution of 1910 marked the end
of the "Porfiriato" and another round of
instability and disorder.
THE CHAOS OF THE
EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Revolution of 1910
caudillos - political/military strongmen from
different areas of the country - rose to
challenge one another for power.
Two popular leaders - Emiliano Zapata and
Pancho Villa - emerged to lead peasant
armies and establish another dimension to
Which led to…
Constitution of 1917
Conflict with the Church
The Establishment of the PRI
THE CARDENAS UPHEAVAL -
1934 - 1940
“The Roosevelt of Mexico” brought change
Redistribution of land
Nationalization of industry Investments in public
Encouragement of peasant and union
Concentration of power in the presidency
THE EMERGENCE OF THE
TECNICOS AND THE
Citizens, Society and
Cleavages that have direct impact on the
Urban v. rural
Mestizo v. Amerindian
North v. south
Protests: citizens included in political
Chiapas – Zapatista uprising
Oaxaca – 2006: fraudulent elections
Roots in warlordism and loyalty to the early 19th century
Most positions within the President's cabinet are filled
either by supporters or by heads of other camarillas that
the President wants to appease.
compromise among contending elites
behind the scenes conflict resolution
distribution of political rewards
control in the hands of the government elite
2006: Controversy over the Presidential election
Factors that influence voter behavior today:
PRI controlled elections on local, state, and national
Competing parties exist
Voter turnout high in 1994 - 78%
Over 60% last two presidential elections
Factors that influenced presidential election 2006
PRI = Umbrella party over elites
Public protests are acceptable
PRI – state corporatism: controlled
Old state corporatism
Mexico is a country in economic and
Political parties becoming more
Political and economic reforms have
altered the ways that government officials
Or Less Developed?
GNP per capita
Somewhere in the middle
Mexico - especially in recent years - has developed
some democratic characteristics, but still has many
vestiges of its authoritarian past.
Another often used standard for considering a country
a democracy is the longevity of democratic practices.
If a nation shows consistent democratic practices for a
period of 40 years or so (a somewhat arbitrary
number), then it may be declared a stable democracy.
Mexico does not fit this description.
Three largest parties:
PRI - The Partido
party is characterized by:
a corporatist structure
PAN - The National Action
PAN's platform includes:
less government intervention in the economy
clean and fair elections
good rapport with the Catholic Church
support for private and religious education
PAN is usually considered to be PRI's
opposition to the right.
PRD - The Democratic
PRI's opposition on the left.
Their presidential candidate in 1988 and 1994
was Cauhtemoc Cardenas
PRD has been plagued by problems
trouble defining a left of center alternative to the
market-oriented policies established by PRI.
Their leaders have also been divided on issues poor
Cardenas is not as charismatic as his famous
Directly elected president, Chamber of Deputy
Representatives, and Senators, as well as a
host of state and local officials.
Typical voter profiles are:
PRI - small town or rural, less educated, older,
PAN - from the north, middle-class professional or
business, urban, better educated (at least high
school, some college)
PRD - younger, politically active, from the central
states, some education, small town or urban
Campaign finance restrictions
International watch team
The election of 2000 broke all precedents
when a joint PAN/PRD candidate -
Vicente Fox - won the presidency, finally
displacing the 71 year dominance of PRI.
Elections of 2006
Elections in Mexico today are :
Competitive primarily in urban areas.
patron-client system encourages bribery and
Pressure for fairer elections
PRI lost in both houses
Calderon v. Obrador
Business interests have networked with
political leaders to protect the growth of
commerce, finance, industry and
State corporatism v. neocorporatism
Labor has been similarly accommodated
within the system
Powerful interest group = Educational
PRI monopolized media
In 1980’s, media became more
Access to broader range of political
Mexico is a federal republic with three
Democratic in name, traditionally the country
has been authoritarian and corporatist.
Theory v. Practice:
According to the Constitution of 1917, Mexican
political institutions resemble those of the U.S.
Actually, Mexican system is very different from that
of the United States.
Strong presidential system.
Fox v. Labastida 2000
This election may mark the end of patron-clientism and
the beginning of a true democratic state.
Policy making in Mexico had centered on the
The president almost always was a member of the
preceding president's cabinet.
Calderon v. Obrador 2006
The President is the Head of the United Mexican States,
which is the official name of the country.
Directly elected by the people
Fixed term of six years (sexenio). The President cannot
The President appoints a Cabinet of 17 Secretaries, plus a
Comptroller General and the Attorney General
President Vicente Fox's administration: Special
Coordinators have been appointed for Public Policies, the
Citizens Alliance, the Strategic Planning and Regional
Development and the National Security Council.
In 1991 Fox ran for governor
Ran again in 1995 and won after significant electoral
In 1997 Amigos de Fox formed - a Mexican-style
PAC - to help Fox seek the presidency.
Fox won the hearts of the Mexican voters. His
pragmatic approach steered the conservative party
more toward the middle, and even captured PRD
support, after PRD became disenchanted with
Rule of law
Andres Manuel Lopez
President Felipe Calderon
Almost 1 1/2 million people work in the federal
bureaucracy, most of them in Mexico City.
Officials are generally paid very little, but those
at high and middle levels have a great deal of
Para-statal sectors (quangos)
Chamber of Deputies
All legislators are directly elected
PRI's grip on the legislature slipped earlier than
it did on the presidency.
A competitive multiparty system begins to
Chamber of Deputies and
Within Congress, senators
and deputies debate and
make new laws or change
Each state is represented
by four senators, and the
people are represented by
deputies (similar to MPs).
Elections for the Chamber
of Deputies (500 seats)
are held every three years,
and for the Senate (128
seats) every six years.
Mexico does not yet have an independent judiciary, nor
does it have a system of judicial review.
Constitution of 1917 is still in effect, it is easily
amended and does not have the same level of
legitimacy as does the U.S. Constitution.
Federal and state courts
The Supreme Court is the highest federal court, and on
paper it has judicial review, but in reality, it almost
never overrules an important government action or
Historically, then, the courts have been controlled by
the executive branch.
Vicente Fox has vowed to work for an independent judiciary.
Military generals dominated Mexican politics
throughout the 19th century and into the early
Depoliticizing the military
Military has been heavily involved in efforts to
combat drug trafficking, and rumors abound
about deals struck between military officials
and drug barons.
Policies and Issues
Standard of living has improved greatly since the 1940s.
Rates of infant mortality, literacy, and life expectancy have steadily
Provision of health and education services have expanded, despite
severe cutbacks after the economic crisis of 1982.
"THE MEXICAN MIRACLE"
Between 1940 and 1960 Mexico's economy grew as a whole by
more than 6 percent a year.
Industrial production rose even faster, averaging nearly 9 percent
for most of the 1960s.
All this growth occurred without much of the inflation that has
plagued many other Latin American economies.
A growing gap between the rich and
the poor was a major consequence of
the rapid economic growth.
Rapid and unplanned urbanization
One of the most dramatic economic
turnarounds in modern history.
Sharp cuts in government spending
Problems persist today, particularly those
of income inequality, urban planning, and
Policies and Issues
Maquiladora and NAFTA
The EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Front began
in 1994 in the southern state of Chiapas in protest to
the signing of the NAFTA treaty.
The Zapatista rebellion was based on ethnicity - the
Amerindian disaffection for the mestizo, urban-based
It has since spread to other areas and ethnicities, and it
represents a major threat to Mexico's political stability.
Tradition of authoritarianism works
Modernization of the economy, the
political value of populism, and
democratic revolutionary impulses work
CFE (Federal Election Commission)
Terms to Know
Porfirio Diaz Municipio
Emiliano Zapata PRONASOL
interdependence Mexico’s miracle
Pendulum theory Mexican Revolution
What are the lasting consequences of the
Mexican Revolution on contemporary
Explain the unique characteristics of the
office of the President of Mexico.
Evaluate the term limitation rule of non-
reelection for Mexico.
Why was the Chiapas insurgency
Explain the significance of Mexico’s
efforts at election reform.
Discuss the control of media and its
relevance to the election process.
What are the trade-offs between
developing an export led economy and a
self-sustaining, subsistence based
Discuss the development and rules
regarding the separation of church and
state in Mexico. Why was there an anti-
clerical movement and what role does
the church now have in Mexican politics?
What did Porfirio Diaz mean by the
statement: ‘Poor Mexico! So far from
God and so close to the United States.’
Compare the nationalization of Mexico’s
petroleum and its domestic
consequences with that of Nigeria.