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Mexico's New Politics: The PAN and Democratic Change

David A. Shirk
Mexico's New Politics: The PAN and Democratic Change
ISBN: 978-1-58826-294-3
ISBN: 978-1-58826-270-7
2004/279 pages/LC: 2004014910

"As the title promises, this is a broad treatment of the PAN as an organization, in the electorate, and in government. But it also delivers more than promised: as Shirk describes the party's history and struggles, he presents a surprisingly complete and extremely clear description of the old system under the PRI and Mexico's democratization process. Shirk clearly got 'inside' the PAN and opened what scholars have sometimes called the 'black box' of intraparty affairs. The text glimmers with juicy detail as a result. Comes as close to a page-turner as one can hope for in the social science of political parties. This readable, informative, and comprehensive work should be read by students of Mexico and assigned in undergraduate courses."—Kenneth F. Greene, Latin American Politics and Society

"A well-written, illuminating, and insightful exploration of Mexico's second-largest party."—Chappell Lawson, The Americas

"Shirk's book does an excellent job of analyzing the causes and consequences of the rise of the PAN and Vicente Fox's victory in 2000.... This book will make an excellent addition to undergraduate courses on Latin American and (particularly) Mexican politics.... Makes important contributions to scholarship on the history of the PAN and on contemporary Mexican politics."—Benjamin Goldfrank, Comparative Political Studies

"[An] authoritative history of the National Action Party (PAN)."—Richard Feinberg, Foreign Affairs

"A valuable, accessible contribution to our knowledge of Mexican politics.... the analysis of recent political events and forces is superb."—Joseph Klesner, Kenyon University


Mexico's presidential elections in July 2000 brought victory to National Action Party (PAN) candidate Vicente Fox—and also the hope of democratic change after decades of single-party rule. Tracing the key themes and dynamics of a century of political development in Mexico, David Shirk explores the evolution of the party that ultimately became the vehicle for Fox's success.

Shirk examines the factors that constrained democracy in postrevolutionary Mexico, as well as the protracted democratic transition that occurred over the last few decades. In the process, he shows that Fox's victory was also the triumph of a new Mexican politics in which voters, candidates, money, and media-driven campaigns—not party leaders or machines—drive political competition. Indeed, Fox's ability to bring democratic change to Mexico, Shirk demonstrates,was fundamentally constrained by the very trends that brought him to power, with enormous implications for Mexico's political present and future.


David A. Shirk is associate professor of political science and international relations at the University of San Diego.


  • Introduction: Mexico's Democratization and the Rise of PAN.
  • The Democratization of Mexican Politics.
  • The Origins and Development of the PAN.
  • The Rise of the PAN.
  • The 2000 Presidential Election and a New Era of Mexican Politics.
  • The PAN in Power: The Challenges of Governance.
  • Mexico's New Politics and the Prospects for Democracy.