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Subnational Politics and Democratization in Mexico

Wayne A. Cornelius, Todd A. Eisenstadt, and Jane Hindley, editors
ISBN: 978-1-87836-739-6
1999/369 pages
U.S.-Mexico Contemporary Perspectives Series
Distributed for the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego

"Treatments of subnational politics in Mexico and other Latin American countries have been tardy in coming, but the recent literature is heartening.... Subnational Politics and Democratization in Mexico is a valuable contribution to that emerging literature."—Edward J. Williams, American Political Science Review

"[This book] brings out the diversity of regional experiences and complements a focus on electoral processes with an interest in popular movements and identities."—Rob Aitken, Bulletin of Latin American Research

"This collection makes a major contribution to the comparative study of democratization.... Analytically, the causal arrow between national and subnational political change can go both ways, and this volume begins to disentangle the complex threads that link a nation's center to its regions." —Jonathan Fox, American Journal of Sociology


This volume highlights the growing disjuncture between Mexico's recently accelerated transition to democracy at the national level and what is occurring at the state and local levels in many parts of the country. Subnational political regimes controlled by hard-line antidemocratic elements linked to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) remain important in late-twentieth-century Mexico, even in an era of much-intensified interparty competition. The survival and even strengthening of state and local authoritarian enclaves in states like Puebla, Tabasco, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and the Yucatán raises serious questions: To what extent will failure to democratize in states and localities where little or no political change has occurred constrain or disrupt the national-level democratization process? How can Mexican leaders engineer a deconcentration of political power and a fiscal decentralization that do not simply strengthen authoritarian elites in the periphery?

Drawing on recent field research in ten Mexican states, the contributors show how the increasingly uneven character of democratization in Mexico can be a significant obstacle to the completion of the process in an expeditious and low-conflict manner.


Wayne A. Cornelius director emeritus of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS), University of California, San Diego (UCSD).


  • Subnational Politics and Democratization: Tensions between Center and Periphery in the Mexican Political System—Wayne A. Cornelius.
  • PRD Local Governments in Michoacán: Implications for Mexico's Democratization Process—Kathleen Bruhn.
  • Democratization and Local Political Party-Building: The PAN in León, Guanajuato—David Shirk.
  • Alternation and Political Liberalization: The PAN in Baja California—Víctor Alejandro Espinoza Valle.
  • A Case of Opposition Unity: The San Luis Potosí Democratic Coalition of 1991—Tomás Calvillo Unna.
  • The Movimiento de Damnificados and the Democratic Transformation of Citizenry and Government in Mexico City—Ligia Tavera-Fenollosa.
  • The "El Barzón" Debtors Movement: From the Local to the National in Protest Politics—Gabriel Torres.
  • The Emergence of Ethnic Identity and Political Alternation in Oaxaca—Luis Hernández Navarro.
  • Zapotec and Mexican: Ethnicity, Militancy, and Democratization in Juchitán, Oaxaca—Jeffrey W. Rubin.
  • Indigenous Mobilization, Development, and Democratization in Guerrero: The Struggle of the Consejo de Pueblos Nahuas del Alto Balsas against the Tetelcingo Dam—Jane Hindley.
  • Resisting Neoliberalism, Constructing Citizenship: Indigenous Movements in Chiapas—Neil Harvey.
  • Electoral Federalism or Abdication of Authority? Confrontation between the President and the PRI over Tabasco's Governorship—Todd A. Eisenstadt.
  • After the State Withdraws: Neoliberalism and Subnational Authoritarian Regimes in Mexico—Richard Snyder.
  • State Electoral Conflicts and National Inter-Party Relations in Mexico, 1988-1994—Jean-Francois Prud'homme.