Democratic Transition from Authoritarian Electioneering: The Instituto Federal Electoral and the Development of the Mexican Electoral System, 1946-2000
Hendrix, Cullen Stevenson
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this SIP will examine electoral system creation and reform in Mexico. In that sense, it is neither about democratization nor elections per se. It is about the institutions that have facilitated the coexistence of authoritarian rule and the ballot box, and the subsequent liberalization of these institutions, making for more transparent electoral processes and allowing for the greater electoral competitiveness that ,is linked to democratization. Elections, in the Mexican context, have been traditionally understood as a means to manufacture legitimacy for the ruling party, to bathe the actions and policy of the governing elite in the warm waters of "popular mandate" (Middlebrook 1985, 3-4). While serving secondary functions such as regulating the alternation of power and providing a forum for popular concerns and politics, elections, until very recently, have not served to facilitate competition between competing political ideologies nor to present a legitimate threat to the governing elite. This is an oft-reached conclusion in literature concerning Mexican politics. What is generally found to be lacking, however, is an in-depth examination of the electoral system itself, and the specific attributes that made it particularly successful at regularly renewing the power of the PRI. Likewise, discussion of contemporary Mexican politics generally addresses electoral reform within the greater context of regime decay and nascent democracy. While this study will incorporate analysis of the causal links between electoral reform and party politics, the main focus will be the specific changes to the Mexican electoral code, especially as embodied in the 1996 reforms to the COFIPE and several related statutes, that have made electoral processes more transparent, equitable, and allowed for increased opposition representation in both elected positions and in the institutions that govern the electoral process itself. Additionally, this SIP will seek to explain the circumstances that led the PRI to initiate the reform process. Once these changes have been explored, the focus of the SIP will then tum to the ramifications of electoral reform as they influence congressional representation, the politics of the nation's capital, the internal politics of the parties themselves, and prospects for regime decentralization and further democratization.