Mexican Political Culture Population ► Over 100 million people in Mexico 60% Mestizo 30% Amerindian (Indigenous) 10% other (European, Asian, etc.) ► Most populated Spanish-speaking country in the world ► 75% of Mexico’s population live in urban areas (Mexico City’s population is 18 million) ► Population in northern part of Mexico more prosperous than central & southern Mexico Farther south you go, the greater the poverty National Identity Mexicans share a strong sense of national identification based on common history, dominant religion and language Importance of religion (Catholicism) Patron-clientelism (“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”) Economic dependency Patron-Client System in Mexico ► Roots in warlordism and loyalty to caudillos (political-military leaders) during 19th century In return for supporters’ loyalty he granted them favors Led to establishment of camarillas ► Distribution of political rewards to those willing to play by formal/informal “rules of the game” ► Keeps control in the hands of the elite ► Modernization and legitimate democracy tend to break up the patron-client system as networks get blurred in large population centers, and more formal forms of participation are instituted Camarillas ► Camarillas – a politician’s personal following in a patron-client relationship ► Exchange of offices and other benefits for support ► Within the PRI, up until the election of 2000, most positions within the president’s cabinet were filled by supporters or heads of camarillas that the president wanted to appease ► Peasants in camarillas received jobs, financial assistance, family advice, and even food & shelter in return for votes for the PRI Part of what allowed PRI to stay in power for over 70 years Citizens, Society, & the State ► Traditionally Mexican citizens have interacted with government through patron-client system ► Because camarillas so interwoven in Mexican politics, most people have had some contact with government during their lives ► Clientelism has generally meant that the government had the upper hand through its ability to determine which interests to respond to and which to ignore ► Role of citizens in Mexico is changing as political parties have become competitive and democracy becomes more firmly entrenched Political Participation ► Historically characterized by revolution & protest ► Mexican citizens have generally been subjects under authoritarian rule of the political elite ► Citizens sometimes benefited from patronage, but legitimate channels to policy-makers were few ► Today, citizens participate through increasingly legitimate and regular elections Protests ►Tlatelolco (1968) – student protest led to a massacre by government troops (400 killed). ►Zapatista Uprising (1994) – Chiapas rebellion reminded Mexicans that some people still lived in appalling conditions, and poverty and lack of education were still serious problems Elections ► Citizens in Mexico directly elect the president, Chamber of Deputy Representatives, and Senators as well as most local & state officials ► Elections are generally competitive, specifically in urban areas ► Members of congress elected through dual system of “first-past-the-post” and proportional representation 32 senate seats are determined nationally through a system of proportional representation that divides the seats according to the number of votes cast for each party (128 Senate seats in total) In the Chamber of Deputies, 300 seats are determined by plurality within single-member districts, and 200 are chosen by proportional representation Voter Behavior ► PRI era PRI controlled local, state, & national elections Voting rates high because of patron-client system Election day festive, accompanied by free food, music, and celebrations Corruption extensive Challengers easily defeated with “tacos” – stuffed ballot boxes ► Post-PRI era Competing parties have existed since 1930s, but no real legitimacy until 1994 78% of eligible citizens voted in 1994 64% voted in 2000 Both much better than 49% of 1988 when PRI corruption was at its height Factors influencing Voters ► Age Younger voters were more likely than older voters to support Vincente Fox and Felipe Calderon’s PAN, and older voters more likely to support the PRI ► 59% ofall student voters chose PAN ► 19% voted for the PRI ► Education The more educated voted for Fox and the PAN (2000) ► 60% of those with a college education voted for Fox ► 22% of college educated voted for Labastida, the PRI candidate ► Region PRI evenly supported throughout the regions of the country PAN received majority of its support from the north and center-west (better educated areas) Cleavages ► Urban vs. Rural – Mexico’s political structure put into place in early 20th century when most of population was rural. PRI and patron-client system were intended to control large numbers of illiterate peasants in exchange for small favors from politicos. Today Mexico is 75% urban, with a literacy rate of about 90%. Urban voters less likely to support PRI, more receptive to political and economic reform. ► Mestizo vs. Amerindian – only about 10% of Mexicans speak indigenous languages, but about 30% consider themselves Amerindians. Amerindians marginalized, predominantly rural, and poor. This cleavage tends to define social class, with most of Mexico’s wealth in the hands of the mestizo population. ► North vs. South – north almost like a different country than the area south of Mexico City. Majority of educated citizens and Mexico’s wealth lies in the north. Southern Mexico primarily populated by Amerindians, characterized and led by Zapatista Movement in Chiapas.
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