Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Thought on Mexican Democracy

Much has been made in the study of Democratic Transition literature in the Latin American region, particularly with regard to Mexico and the end of the 70 year dominance of the PRI of Mexico's Presidency. With the election of Vicente Fox in 2000, many speculated that perhaps Mexico's democracy had matured. And some note that the victory of Calderon (from Fox's PAN party) is further evidence of the consolidation of Mexico's democratic transition. However, I have always believed that it's not the transition away from the PRI that would be the critical reference framework for analyzing the state of Mexico's democracy, but what will lead to the end of the PAN's rule and what a transition back to the PRI (or to another party -- i.e. the PRD) will look like and mean. I think it's the character of the cyclical transition of power that is critical to measuring a democracy's consolidation and maturity. And we still have yet to see that in Mexico. If the PRI returns to the Presidency in 2012, will there be a kind of throwback to the "old" days out of some sense of nostalgia for a more stable situation? If the PRD gains the Presidency in 2012, will this augur an even greater weakness of the stability of Mexico's political system and usher in a kind of unstable minority coalition kind of ruling arrangement? If the PAN wins again in 2012, are we looking at a kind of post-modern variation on the single-party model that is substituting for the old PRI in the minds of the Mexican population? These questions can only be answered if and when the PAN loses the Presidency. And that hasn't happened yet.