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The Sources of Democratic Responsiveness in Mexico

Matthew R. Cleary

Publication Year: 2010

Matthew Cleary investigates the political sources of improved government responsiveness in contemporary Mexico. He draws on existing theoretical frameworks that explain responsiveness (the degree to which government output matches public preferences) as a function of electoral accountability mechanisms, direct participatory pressure, or a combination of the two. Cleary demonstrates that electoral competition is not the cause of improved responsiveness among Mexican municipal governments. Instead, he attributes responsiveness in the 1980s and 1990s to a prior qualitative shift in participatory politics that began in the 1970s and continues to this day. The inability of electoral competition to improve responsiveness is, Cleary argues, a function of Mexico's political institutions. The book demonstrates the implications of thinking broadly about the variety of strategies that citizens use, on a daily basis, to influence the behavior of politicians. The Sources of Democratic Responsiveness in Mexico exposes serious flaws in conventional understandings of electoral competition in Mexico. Cleary's careful critique of electoral accountability theory and his theory of participatory responsiveness address broader theoretical and conceptual issues that extend beyond the Mexican situation. The book will interest students and scholars of comparative democracy, Mexican politics, and Latin American politics.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. v

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pp. vii-xii

This book is the product of my attempt to broaden my own understanding of how democracy works. I hope that it will broaden the reader’s understanding too. When democracy works well, it produces outcomes—in the form of policies, services, public goods, protections, or some other output—that are beneficial to, and desired by, the citizenry. I refer to the process of generating these outcomes as ...

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Chapter One. What Good Are Elections in Mexico?

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pp. 1-20

... possible by providing mechanisms for popular control, policy responsiveness, or government accountability. Some argue that elections are the only reliable means to these ends and that, accordingly, competitive elections are a sufficient condition for political democracy. 1 But recent research has begun to cast doubt on the ability of ...

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Chapter Two. Elections and Democratic Responsiveness

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pp. 21-52

... in Mexican elections has produced real changes. The PRI has now lost two consecutive presidential elections. Federal and state legislatures are far more plural than they used to be and are more assertive because of it (Beer 2003). And in contrast to the era of PRI dominance, party alternation in power is now a real possibility ...

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Chapter Three. Political Participation and Democratic Responsiveness

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pp. 53-80

... in democratic theory at least since the publication of Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.1 For Schumpeter, democracy’s distinguishing feature is the peaceful competition for power among elites, while the citizenry is relegated to the solitary, almost passive role of voting. As a positive theory of democracy, Schumpeter’s ...

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Chapter Four. Testing Hypotheses about Responsiveness: The Public Services Approach

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pp. 81-118

... about the political causes of democratic responsiveness. According to the first, government is more responsive where elections are more competitive. According to the second, government is more responsive where participation is more frequent. I have also discussed several ways in which the two independent variables in question (electoral ...

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Chapter Five. Testing Hypotheses about Responsiveness: The Public Finance Approach

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pp. 119-146

... findings. With respect to the provision of public services, the available evidence suggests that the primary political source of responsive government is to be found in levels of political participation and engagement. There is very little evidence to support the view that municipal governments are rendered more responsive through mechanisms of ...

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Chapter Six. Electoral and Participatory Mechanisms in Action

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pp. 147-182

... contradicts several common claims about Mexican politics. It is just not possible, given the results of this analysis, to sustain the argument that the rise of electoral competition in Mexican municipalities is generally responsible for significant improvements in the quality of local government. Nor can we maintain that elections ...

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Chapter Seven. Conclusion: The Sources of Democratic Responsiveness in Mexico

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pp. 183-202

The introduction to this book justified the study of politics in Mexican municipalities by appealing to important and unsettled questions about the nature of democratic governance. It then proceeded to delve into the minutiae of municipal politics, offering lengthy discussions on the nature of public utility provision, party politics, citizen governance ...

Appendix Fractionalization Indices as Measures of Electoral Competitiveness

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pp. 203-210


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pp. 211-232

Works Cited

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pp. 233-248


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pp. 249-253

E-ISBN-13: 9780268076863
E-ISBN-10: 0268076863
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268023010
Print-ISBN-10: 0268023018

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: Figs./tables removed; no rights.
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 694144490
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Sources of Democratic Responsiveness in Mexico

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Political participation -- Mexico.
  • Mexico -- Politics and government -- 2000-.
  • Elections -- Mexico.
  • Government accountability -- Mexico.
  • Democracy -- Mexico.
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